Dwight Hall Students Win Prestigious Honors for Leadership and Service—Rhodes Scholarships and Yale-Jefferson Award

Christina Pao ’20, Marwan Safar Jalani ’20, and Liana Wang ’20 have won coveted Rhodes Scholarships. Established in 1903, Rhodes Scholarships are one of the most prestigious international graduate scholarship programs in the world. Rhodes Scholars have gone on to work at the forefront of public service, government, education, the arts, NGOs, commerce, research, and other sectors.

Keera Annamaneni ’20 has received the 2019 Yale-Jefferson Award. Modeled after the national Jefferson Award (known as the “Nobel Prize for public service”), the award recognizes those who inspire the Yale community through innovative, impactful, and sustained service for the greater good.

Each of these students gained social change leadership experiences at Dwight Hall.

ChristinaChristina Pao ’20 is completing a double major in political science and classics, as well as an M.A. in political science. Pao has been deeply involved in campus organizations related to sexual assault and survivorship and currently serves as a member of the Title IX Advisory Committee at Yale. She has worked with the International Rescue Committee alongside refugees in Washington State, and cites her service through Dwight Hall as an Urban Fellow and a Summer Fellow as essential for forming the basis of her world view. When learning of her Rhodes Scholarship, Christina wrote to Dwight Hall Program Manager Mark Fopeano, “Thank you so much for writing my letter of recommendation and for being so supportive throughout my Yale career. I am so grateful!”

MarwanMarwan Safar Jalani ’20 is the first Yale student to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in the Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine region. At Yale, he is pursuing a B.A. in political science, and is part of the undergraduate program on human rights at the Law School. Marwan served on the United World College Syrian National Committee and as president of the Yale Refugee Project, a Dwight Hall student-run member group. He enjoys cycling, writing poetry, and performing spoken word. He is one of the first Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance-Dwight Hall Summer Fellows. Marwan remarked, “I owe much of my path to Rhodes Scholarship to my summer experiences, including my 2017 summer internship at the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven, supported by the YANA-Dwight Hall Summer Fellowship.”  

LianaLiana Wang ’20 is majoring in economics. Her research examines shifting patterns of inequality in the United States, and the impact of the tax and welfare system in addressing inequality. Liana served as a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow with New Haven Legal Aid Association and Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project during the 2017-2018 academic year. Liana is the first undergraduate co-director of the Lowenstein Human Rights Project, a human rights law clinic at Yale. A volunteer tax preparer, she assists low-income residents in New Haven in filing tax returns. She is also an award-winning columnist at the Yale Daily News. Liana is the first in her family to attend college, and plans a career as an economist focusing on labor, public finance, and social policy. 

KeerthanaKeerthana Annamaneni ’20 was one of three recipients of the Yale-Jefferson award honored on November 22, 2019. Keera has given back in extraordinary ways and reflects upon her experience as a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow and a Summer Fellow as essential to her formation as a leader. Growing up, she was captivated by the childhood stories of her south Indian parents. Interested in direct service work, she utilized the storytelling skills she inherited to spotlight larger systemic problems, both as a journalist and as a Dwight Hall Summer Fellow with the Bronx Defenders. Keera has also served the New Haven federal defenders and the Connecticut Innocence Project, as well as the Yale student publication, The Politic (editor). 

Congratulations to Christina, Marwan, Liana, and Keera! You are flourishing as social change leaders, and Dwight Hall sends best wishes for your graduate school and career pursuits.

Photo Credit: Marwan Safar Jalani by Egan Jimenez

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