Kennedy Scholars 2018

Dr Laura Heath 27 
Harvard School of Public Health MPH

Laura is currently an Academic Clinical Fellow in Primary Care, with a particular interest in behavioural medicine: the intersection of lifestyle choices and population health. Laura studied medicine at Cambridge and UCL, following a highly successful academic career at her local state school in Leicestershire.Proactive in seeking out opportunities, Laura has worked with research groups in women’s health and sexual health at UCL, before moving to Oxford for her Academic Foundation Programme. Here, she has worked on projects with the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group and on clinical trials for weight loss interventions in primary care.   She welcomes the opportunity to spend time at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Harvard. The MPH will also give her skills in epidemiology and the science of public health practice, which will equip her to continue research alongside her clinical practice. Laura is also a keen runner and looks forward to exploring the Boston trails.

Ronak Jain 23 
Economics Doctoral Programme Harvard GSAS

Ronak’s goal is to become an academic development economist.  She hopes to work with Michael Kremer, the Gates Professor of Developing Societies at Harvard.  Ronak began undertaking research projects at ‘A’ level, achieved a prize-winning First in Economics at Cambridge and was ranked first in the first year of her MPhil at Oxford where her thesis is pushing boundaries in both theoretical modelling and structural econometric estimation. Alongside her degrees, Ronak has continued to gain experience in development research projects – with DfiD, at Oxford Policy Management, and at the Centre for Civil Society in New Delhi where research in education has led to her MPhil thesis. At Cambridge, Ronak was selected and sponsored for Churchill College’s Next Generation Leaders Development Programme. Her undergraduate dissertation was Regional Winner for Europe in The Undergraduate Awards, Economics. Ronak’s GCSEs were taken in a school where over 20% are eligible for free school meals.

Renée Kapuku 21 
Harvard Graduate School of Education EdM

Renée writes: “my experiences as a Black African growing up in a working-class household in Haringey have decisively shaped my passion for increasing educational opportunities for students in hardship.” Renée was the only student at her school to achieve 10 A*s at GCSE and the first from that school to be admitted to Oxford, with a Moritz-Heyman scholarship enabling her to meet the costs of a degree.  She is the first generation in her family to attend university.  Renée intends to tackle the double-bind of low income and reduced access to human capital, seeking to resource parents and guardians in supporting their children.A summer as a strategy consultant with Project Rousseau in New York increased Renée’s awareness that educational inequality is both an urgent local and an international problem.  The international and entrepreneurial vision of the IEP degree at Harvard is grounded in practical application.  It will equip her to push for changes in policy.

Ife Kubler-Agyemang  23
Harvard Law School LLM

Ife’s desire to become a barrister with a human rights practice is shaped by her determination to represent those left voiceless before the court. She grew up in a deprived London borough and through joining Newham Swords Fencing Club she recognised a stark difference in outlook and opportunities between children in her community and those she competed against. Ranked British under 18 Champion (2010) she competed internationally for GB for 5 years. Whilst at the University of Bristol, Ife resurrected the Research for Legal Change Forum to review the impact academic research can have in reshaping unjust areas of law. Her dissertation, ‘Honey, we shrunk the disability concept’, arose from pioneering work as a student advocate successfully representing 6 clients with disabilities in social security appeal tribunals.  The LLM will enable Ife to return to the UK with a practical and comparative understanding of civil liberties and human rights protection.

Beth Kume-Holland 23 
Harvard GSAS Special Student

Beth will be affiliating with the Department of African American Studies’ Social Engagement Initiative alongside studying filmmaking, hip-hop, policy and the changing depictions of issues of race relations and social justice in our shifting media landscape. She is both a writer and aspiring filmmaker, looking forward to screenwriting and producing in Harvard’s Department of Visual Studies. Since graduating from Oxford, Beth has worked in the film industry and as a researcher both for the University’s History Faculty and Citibank’s ‘Global Perspectives and Solutions’ series. Beth has also graduated from Sutton Trust and LSE’s Pathways to Law Programme, McKinsey’s National Leadership Academy and received nationwide community awards. She is heavily involved with access work and last year co-ordinated and ran the Oxford UNIQ ‘Race and Protest’ summer school, the same access programme for students from less-privileged backgrounds that she herself attended, aged 17.

Tsiona Lida 24 
Harvard GSAS Special Student

Tsiona is a historian with an interest in the use and abuse of emotion in personal and national narratives – the ‘dark matter’ of history. As an undergraduate at Edinburgh, an Erasmus grant took her to Berlin, where the History of Emotions prompted thinking beyond traditional historical categories. Her studies there culminated in a research paper for a Max Planck Institute summer school. Tsiona developed research from an internship with NGO Zochrot in Tel Aviv into her dissertation on emotion, narrative and the Israel-Palestine land dispute. She was awarded the departmental prize as the most distinguished graduate in History. Her year at Harvard follows an MSc by Research and a thesis on the role of emotions in Hannah Arendt’s writing on Israel, which drew on political theory and philosophy. In anticipation of future doctoral study, Tsiona will take full advantage and range from pure ‘history’ courses to Middle Eastern Studies and the interfaculty Mind/Brain/Behaviour seminars.

Aniruddh Raghu 22 
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Doctoral programme MIT

Aniruddh won a bronze medal representing the UK at the International Physics Olympiad in 2014 and has been in receipt of 2 competitive scholarships whilst completing his Engineering degree at Cambridge, one from the IET and one from BP. He will work with Prof. Dina Katabi's group at MIT CSAIL, at the intersection of Machine Learning and health sensing. Aniruddh hopes to collaborate with clinicians during his PhD and for his research work to help improve the quality of patient monitoring and care. After his doctorate, Aniruddh expects to work in industrial research. Outside of academia, Aniruddh is a trained Indian Classical violinist with 12 years of experience. He also works to promote student engagement with community-focussed IT projects. Aniruddh will be funded by MIT and enjoy the additional benefits arising from being within the Kennedy Scholar group.

Dr Vatshalan Santhirapala 29 
Harvard School of Public Health MPH

Vatshalan graduated from Imperial College and is currently training in Anaesthesiology in London. In 2015, he was elected to the Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (UK).  He has a notable background in clinical research for which he has won numerous prizes, published articles and presented internationally. Vatshalan's main passion lies in Global Surgery: the delivery of safe, affordable surgical care in low and middle income countries. In addition to his MPH, he has been selected as the first anaesthesiologist to be awarded the Paul Farmer Fellowship in Global Surgery. Vatshalan is also a fellow of the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research and is currently creating an open access course on Global Surgery to raise awareness and advocate for health policy change. Vatshalan is most looking forward to immersing himself in global healthcare research and the opportunity to be mentored by world-leading clinicians in his chosen field.

Sam Sherman 25 
Harvard Kennedy School MPP

Sam has pursued his interest in humanitarian aid and international development since first taking part in a humanitarian mission to Northern Kenya during the 2011 East Africa Crisis. At Cambridge he studied Politics with a focus on conflicts and aid, graduating with First Class Honours. He then joined the International division of the Civil Service Fast Stream, undertaking posts in DFID’s Middle East and North Africa Department and elsewhere in Government. Most recently Sam has been working closely with the UN World Food Programme and other DFID partners to test how drones could be used to address humanitarian challenges, for instance by delivering critical medical aid following sudden-onset emergencies. At the Kennedy School of Government he will have the opportunity to examine the political economy of his field and to further explore humanitarian innovation. Sam is completing a final, short-term assignment in DR Congo before starting at Harvard.

Danielle Worden 23 
Harvard GSAS Special Student

Having graduated first in her year from UCL Laws, Danielle has decided to dedicate her career to fighting human trafficking.  Her dissertation, ‘Sex Trafficking: Towards a Human Rights Paradigm’ received the UCL Law Faculty Research Prize and was published in the International Journal of Human Rights in 2018. It critiqued the use of international criminal law to tackle human trafficking and proposed an alternative framework informed by human rights law. However, as human trafficking is a multifaceted issue, Danielle will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to her Harvard studies through courses ranging from those taught by globally-renowned trafficking specialist Siddharth Kara at the Kennedy School to ‘International Human Rights Advocacy’ at Harvard Law School.  Despite receiving three training contract offers, Danielle will apply for pupillage next year as she believes a career at the bar offers the best platform from which to utilise the law to combat human trafficking.

Scholar Profiles
Camilla Cavendish, 1989
"I had wanted to broaden my horizons, but I had never imagined just how limited those horizons were..."
Camilla Cavendish, 1989