Media CenterStavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program Announces Class of 2024 Paideia Fellows

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program Announces Class of 2024 Paideia Fellows

Philadelphia, PA – March 31, 2021—The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program announces the acceptance of 20 students into the class of 2024 SNF Paideia Fellows. SNF Paideia Fellows are a select group of undergraduate students committed to developing the knowledge, skills, and values needed for effective, ethical, and civil dialogue in a diverse world.

Beginning sophomore year, SNF Paideia Fellowships provide the opportunity to more fully integrate dialogue, wellness, service, and citizenship in a Penn education through a structured combination of academic courses, co-curricular events, and hands-on leadership experiences. Fellowships encourage and support students’ ability to connect their public roles as community members with their academic, personal, and professional lives in healthy, sustainable, and fulfilling ways. The program cultivates opportunities for students to practice robust and respectful civil dialogue with others across a wide range of political, social, and cultural differences.

The Class of 2024 Paideia Fellows includes:

Yasmin Abdul Razak, C’24, Hometown: Selangor, Malaysia — Yasmin is a College of Arts and Sciences student planning on majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics as well as Sociology. Originally from Malaysia, Yasmin came to Penn to expand her academic knowledge but also, through dialogue and engagement with different social contexts, she was looking to develop a more diverse ideology and belief system. Through the SNF Paideia fellowship program, Yasmin hopes to learn how to engage in a balanced a fruitful conversation in an ethical and intersectional framework. As a Malay-Muslim student, one of the issues Yasmin cares most deeply about is diversity. She is inspired by the program’s commitment to promote citizenship across difference and is excited to be a part of the community.

Sarah Asfari, C’24, Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina — Sarah is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences with an interest in sociolinguistics, foreign languages, and sociology with hopes to major in Linguistics and Modern Middle East Studies. Sociolinguistics is the study of regional and identity-based variations in language and Sarah would like to learn more about how others use language to express themselves, their identities, and opinions through dialogue. She sees her academic studies as a gateway to understanding the history of linguistic discrimination that sometimes underlies larger conversations about race, racism, elitism, and other social issues. Sarah is excited to ground her academic studies with experiential practice through the fellowship program.

Shayan Ashraf, C’24, Hometown: New York, New York— Shayan is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences with plans to major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics as well as a possible minor in Comparative Literature. He is a Bengali Muslim-American born a citizen in America and has worked with asylum seekers at the New Sanctuary Coalition in New York City, translating their stories from Spanish to English, writing affidavits, and filing for work authorization. These experiences have given Shayan an appreciation for the value of dialogue across difference, not simply for the ends it may accomplish, but also for generating empathy and as a means of survival. The SNF Paideia Fellowship program fits his interests in the social sciences and he hopes to use the experience to further his investigation into what it means to be a citizen and apply his academic interests to community change.

Jenna Bao, W’24, Hometown: San Jose, California — Jenna is a student in the Wharton School and plans to major in Statistics and Operations Management and minor in Data Science. She hopes that the SNF Paideia Fellows Program will be instrumental in equipping her with the necessary skills to navigate the process of learning about the world around her and to find ways in which to serve various communities. She also expects that by taking interactive courses surrounding wellness, service, citizenship, and dialogue, her understanding of these fundamental concepts will deepen and become more nuanced. Jenna is the Vice President of Social Impact at Wharton’s Marketing Undergraduate Student Establishment, where the committee takes on pro-bono fundraising, advocacy, and consulting work to tackle important social issues like homelessness, environmental sustainability, and racial injustice. They also focus on student wellness through hosting a Wellness Week each semester.

Tanay Chandak, EAS’24, Hometown: St Louis, Missouri — Tanay is a student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, with an interest in Computer Science. When he lived in Saint Louis, he collaborated with leaders in low-income communities to provide musical instruments to students who couldn’t otherwise afford them. As a computer scientist, he hopes to use his skills to provide greater opportunities in lower-resourced areas. In addition to his interest in computer science, Tanay is also keen on linguistics and learning different languages, including basic Amharic, Korean, Filipino, Berber, Sanskrit, and Spanish. Tanay hopes to utilize the SNF Paideia fellowship to understand what the combination of linguistics and computer science can accomplish.

Steven Chen, C’24, Hometown: Warminster, Pennsylvania — Steven is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences with ambitions to major in Biology or Health and Societies and minor in Urban Education. As an SNF Paideia Fellow, Steven is eager to further integrate wellness, service, citizenship and dialogue with his interest in the intersection of health and education. He hopes to contribute to improving health literacy by developing a trusting connection between minority communities and healthcare providers through education. Steven is eager to develop his own dialogue skills to better empathize with patients and connect them with the appropriate medical and financial resources. He hopes to bring the skills he grows through the fellowship program with him into the medical field, developing a sense of security for patients and addressing root causes of health disparities and their effects on minority patients.

Alexander Eapen, C’24, Hometown: Elkridge, Maryland — Alexander is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences and is considering majors in International Relations and Health and Societies. He sits on the University-Wide Committee on Diversity and Equity, writes opinion pieces for the Daily Pennsylvanian and participates in student government, all of which contribute to his interest in dialogue across difference and learning about the lived experience of others. He hopes to explore career options in medicine, policy, public health, or some combination of the three and wants to use his time as an SNF Paideia Fellow to do so. Alex believes in the power of his voice and the voices of others and feels that the human voice contains the power to change minds and heal hearts if only we are willing and brave enough to share.

Matt Friedman, EAS’24, Hometown: Chappaqua, New York — Matt is a student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, with an interest in computer science and design. He was inspired to be a Fellow through the SNF Paideia designated course Grit Lab and looks forward to engaging in a holistic education through the Program. Matt’s experience in computer science and design provides him with a unique perspective that is both data-driven and abstract. He is interested in marketing, data analytics, and using his skills to combat manipulative marketing. He hopes to focus his Fellowship on the prevention of harmful marketing campaigns that rely on misinformation, unsolicited data collection, and suppression of marginalized voices.

Brinn Gammer, C’24, Hometown: Hazleton, Pennsylvania — Brinn sees herself as a life-long activist and enjoys using her public speaking skills to help others. She hopes to use the SNF Paideia fellowship to refine her skills as an activist in the communities in which she hopes to serve. Brinn joins us from the College of Arts and Sciences and is considering a wide array of majors, from law to neuroscience and public policy. In her time volunteering in high school, she tutored non-native English speakers, organized peaceful protests, and started a local domestic violence awareness project. She is hopeful that by continuing to be vulnerable and open with others, sharing stories, and engaging in authentic discussion, we will start to bridge political divides.

Isaac Gateno, C’24, Hometown: Houston, Texas — Isaac joins us from the College of Arts and Sciences where he is considering a major in Political Science or Philosophy. He hopes to use his time as an SNF Paideia Fellow to gain listening and understanding skills to be an engaged citizen that will in turn develop his sense of civic duty to carry out his educational and career goals. His concern for the growing divide among American politics, inability to pass legislation across the aisle, and lack of civil discourse has inspired him to want to make connections with his peers through listening and understanding and he hopes to translate these skills to his work. He wants to help promote constructive dialogue, encourage respect and political wellness, participate in service to bridge polarized parties, and in doing so, fulfill his civic duty.

Maeve Gonter, Nu’24, Hometown: Middleton, Wisconsin — Maeve is a nursing student with interests in sexual and reproductive health and aspirations to be a women’s health nurse practitioner and certified nurse-midwife. Maeve sees dialogue across difference as critical to her success as a health care professional and hopes to develop skills that will help her engage in uncomfortable dialogues with colleagues, patients, and families, as well as further her interests in cultural competency, patient advocacy, the politics of nursing, and patient care. The SNF Paideia Fellows program will provide Maeve the opportunity to grow through service, staying focused on her field of study but also learning to nourish a sense of individual wellness that is connected to her wider community.

Pavan Iyengar, C’24, Hometown: Orlando, Florida — Pavan is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences and a student in the Vagelos MLS Program, with plans to major in biochemistry. He hopes to broaden his education to gain a better understanding of how to bring about change. As an aspiring physician, he sees health as a complex interplay between personal, societal, and political factors. Pavan views the Fellows Program as an opportunity to develop the necessary skills to be an effective patient advocate and to work with community leaders, policymakers, and individuals to maximally benefit the community. Part of his future role as a physician and scientist will be to build trust with the public, offering guidance and expertise on relevant policy questions and calling out questionable interpretations of data. This requires skill in dialogue and a community-oriented mindset that is at the core of the SNF Paideia Fellowship Program.

Lynn Larabi, C’24, Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Lynn is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences with interests in International Relations, Modern Middle Eastern Studies, Urban Policy, or Sustainability and Management. She gained an appreciation for the value of critical discourse through the Social Justice Research Academy and looks forward to continuing to engage in dynamic dialogues through the SNF Paideia Program. A Philadelphia native and first-generation student, Lynn brings an enthusiasm for advocacy work that impacts underserved populations. Lynn is interested in environmental education and sustainability and aims to develop her public speaking and critical thinking skills in order to represent immigrant families and address environmental concerns.

Jane Muni, Nu’24, Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya — Jane is a student in the College of Nursing pursuing a degree in Nursing. She hopes that her time as an SNF Paideia Fellow will help her to develop her own voice and the skills to empower others to advocate for improved health outcomes for women and especially for women of color. As an international student from Kenya, she will bring a unique perspective from her experience in her home community. She hopes to embrace opposition through listening and dialogue to help communicate with others to develop innovative ideas.

Hannah Norman, C’24, Hometown: Newport News, Virginia — Hannah is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences and is pursuing a major in International Relations. She is interested in exploring a career in journalism or law, with a specific focus on the intersection between each of her interdisciplinary interests and hopes to use the SNF Paideia program to help gain a greater understanding of global issues. She lived in Cambodia for 8 years before coming to Penn and observed the way many other fields impacted governance and international relations, including how bilateral relations influenced medication shipment and healthcare protocol, how arts were used as a medium for influencing governance, and how conflicting interpretations of international law influenced trials of political figures.

Eleni Pisinos, C’24, Hometown: Tullahoma, Tennessee — Eleni joins us from the College of Arts and Sciences and plans to major in Political Science. She hopes to use the SNF Paideia Fellowship as an opportunity to improve her public speaking skills and her ability to discuss contentious issues in a civilized manner in order to engage with her local and global communities. Using her experience in a family with diverse perspectives, she wishes to cultivate dialogue by applying what she has learned and to expand upon it with faculty, professors, and fellow students in the program. Eleni is interested in a career as an international human rights lawyer and hopes to use dialogue to understand differences between individuals and to bridge social, cultural, and political divides.

Deborah Olatunji, Nu’24, Hometown: New Castle, Delaware — Deborah, or Deb as her friends call her, is currently a student in the School of Nursing. She hopes by joining the SNF Paideia Fellows program that she will be joining a family of empathetic listeners and dynamic problem-solvers who have a desire to make social change on an individual and community level. She is driven to be engaged and bring her community together in the pursuit of mental health and education advocacy through the exploration of self and society. She understands that the practice of intentional dialogue with others allows her to think critically and deeply about issues that are currently affecting the population, like racial injustice, gender inequality, voter suppression, and climate change. Deborah is the host of a talk show, The Voices of Disruption Podcast, where she brings communities together to share stories of culture, reflection, empathy, vulnerability, and joy. The show’s catchphrase, “let’s disrupt together now!” was modeled after Deborah’s philosophy of collective empowerment, the idea of amplifying the people around her in their own definitions of success while pursuing what wakes her up!

Hana Stauss, C’24, Hometown: Newport Beach, California — Hana is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences and hopes to pursue a major in Architecture, Design, or Computer Science. She appreciates the SNF Paideia Program’s emphasis on bridging intellectual discourse and practical application. Hana recognizes some of the barriers in computer science education and the struggles of women in computer science. She hopes to work in the community to foster a sense of holistic civic engagement and to communicate with people with differing backgrounds and perspectives. She is passionate about creating effective, sustainable products for social good through the intersection between design and technology.

Mira Sydow, C’24, Hometown: Johns Creek, Georgia — Mira is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences with interests in Urban Studies, Political Science, and Design. She is passionate about political work and was drawn to the expanded notion of service reflected in the SNF Paideia Fellows Program. She is interested in learning more about the dynamics at play between institutions and communities both in her hometown as well as in West Philadelphia. She sees storytelling as a powerful tool for creating an environment for honesty and reflection and has experience writing for 34th Street as well as working with an international organization that empowers women in South America through storytelling. Inspired by SNF Paideia’s focus on integrating theory and practice, Mira looks forward to the opportunity to develop her interests in community organizing through political science, urban studies, and design with both academic rigor and hands-on experience.

Elizabeth Weise, W’24, Hometown: New York, New York — Elizabeth looks forward to joining a community of fellow students passionate about engaging in civil discourse and learning from each other. She is a student in the Wharton School hoping to major in Business, Economics, and Public Policy (BEPP), but also plays on the Varsity Squash team and serves on the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board. She is interested in law, politics, and policy, believing strongly in the necessity of civil and empathetic dialogue for meaningful change. Her time working in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office taught her the value of diverse thought especially in terms of law and policy. She aspires to use the skills she learned in the District Attorney’s Office and her time as an SNF Paideia Fellow to engage with individuals whose backgrounds and views differ from her own.

More information about the Fellows will be available throughout the summer on the SNF Paideia website and social media channels.

About The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Paideia Program

Through the intellectual and financial support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the SNF Paideia Program serves as a hub for civic dialogue in undergraduate education at Penn. SNF Paideia collaborates with many campus entities to promote opportunities for students to develop the knowledge, skills, ethical frameworks, and experiences necessary to be informed, engaged, and effective community members and leaders in society. The SNF Paideia Program encourages the free exchange of ideas, civil and robust discussion of divergent views, and student and community wellness through SNF Paideia-designated courses, a Fellows program, and campus events. For more information visit our website at


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