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Strauss Center Announces 2021 – 2022 Brumley Next Generation Scholars

May 28, 2021 |

The Strauss Center is very pleased to announce the acceptance of eleven undergraduate students to its 2021– 2022 class of Brumley Next Generation Scholars. The program’s new class comprises an impressive group of undergraduate students drawn from schools and departments across the UT campus.

This one-year program consists of two core components.  First, the students will take a 3-credit research training and professional development course, taught in the fall of 2021 by Dr. Stephanie Holmsten and Dr. Michael Mosser. This course is designed to introduce students to policy work, including basic skills in policy research, analysis, and writing. Students will be trained on designing research strategies and proposals, conducting policy analysis, writing resumes and statements of purpose, crafting op-eds and blog posts, and planning for the steps in their career development. Second, in the spring semester, the Next Generation Scholars will refine the ideas generated and workshopped in the fall in order to place them in venues such as op-eds, policy memos, communications with elected representatives, or the like.

Involving undergraduates in international affairs and civic engagement early in their career is a vital part of the Strauss Center’s mission to prepare the next generation of leaders to help develop solutions to the most pressing public policy challenges.

Meet the 2021 – 2022 Brumley Next Generation Scholars: 

Isabel Ayala is a rising senior majoring in Government and Asian Studies with a specialization in East Asian security and foreign policy. Her academic and professional interests revolve around the security implications of bilateral and multilateral relationships in the Asia-Pacific region. As a Spring 2021 Bill Archer Fellow, she researched various initiatives to participate in vaccine diplomacy, increase diversity in the State Department, and engage in Japan and ASEAN diplomatic endeavors as an intern for both the Office of Congressman Joaquin Castro and the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs under the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Impact (IDOC). With hopes to make a positive impact on her local community, Isabel is also actively involved in promoting civic engagement and has interned in both chambers of the Texas Legislature. Currently, she is exploring the facets of Japanese foreign policy with the East-West Center in Washington D.C. as a research intern. With mission to further U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, she is planning on attending law school after graduation to specialize in international law. Isabel is looking forward to joining the Brumley Next-Generation Scholars Program to research and expand on policy issues with a group of like-minded, passionate individuals.

Katherine Birch is a rising senior at UT Austin, double majoring in International Relations and Global Studies as well as Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Her professional research and policy background focuses on international security, with a particular interest in Russian hybrid warfare, disinformation campaigns, and the transatlantic security of the United States and its Central and Eastern European allies. Throughout her junior year, Katherine contributed to several research initiatives within the Department of Government and UT’s Global (Dis)Information Lab on projects relating to Russian disinformation campaigns in Central Europe and the Russian Federation’s manipulation of certain cultural figures’ legacies to legitimize its great power agenda. An active member of the Longhorn community, Katherine currently serves as the president of Students for Central and Eastern Europe, UT Austin’s first human rights advocacy organization dedicated to engaging students with ongoing social and political rights issues within these regions. Additionally, she has been an Undergraduate Fellow with the Clements Center for National Security for the past three years. This summer, Katherine will intern with the Institute of International Relations Prague where she will research the effects of disinformation efforts about COVID-19 in diminishing Central European citizens’ confidence in democratic governance. This spring, Katherine will proudly represent UT Austin as she participates in the Archer Fellowship Program in Washington D.C. In her spare time, Katherine enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, learning new languages, and forcing her friends to try out any new recipes she finds.

Jake Cosgrove is a rising sophomore majoring in International Relations and Global Studies and Middle Eastern Studies with a minor in Arabic. Jake is currently involved with Central Texas Model United Nations, and sits on the Office of the Secretary-General as the UnderSecretary-General of Committees. He also serves on the leadership panel of the International Relations and Global Studies Council as the chair of the International Security team. Jake’s interest in international relations and related fields can be traced back to high school. Starting his freshman year, he became involved in Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB)—a program that brings together Muslim, Jewish, and Christian teens from Israel, America, and Palestine to discuss and explore identity, service, leadership, and conflict resolution. Through JPB, Jake learned the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the region through personal interactions with teens who shared a desire for dialogue about the possibility of peace.  This experience gave Jake the foundation to develop his own perspectives and to become an advocate for peace and change. Whether it be working for the Departments of Defense or State on brokering constructive dialogue between ethnic groups in the region or getting on-the-ground experience working for a non-profit organization overseas, Jake knows that his path forward includes graduate school and a career-long focus on Middle Eastern affairs.

Peter Denham is a rising senior from Pasadena, California, majoring in Plan II Honors and pursuing the Clements Center’s certificate in Security Studies as well as a minor in Business. Peter’s professional interests lie in public service and in the nexus of national security policy and law. Over the pandemic summer of 2020, he interned remotely with ACERTAS Analytics, a decision analytics firm specializing in predictive modeling of geopolitical and business risk. At ACERTAS, he researched global security, political and environmental trends, and helped prepare strategic analytical reports and risk assessments for private and public sector clients. Peter is a 2021 Summer Fellow at the Hertog Foundation, where his studies and research will focus on free speech. Peter’s additional academic pursuits include international relations, constitutional design, and nation building. Peter has developed a passion for international relations through his extensive travel experience — including to Africa, South America, South East Asia, and throughout Europe — which has enabled him to hone his linguistic and intercultural communication skills. Before starting college, he studied abroad on a gap year at language programs in Montpellier and Biarritz, France. As a Brumley Scholar, he hopes to examine interdisciplinary topics such as how climate-driven immigration pressures will affect immigration policy in coming years. On campus, he has also been a Clements Center Undergraduate Fellow since 2019. Peter is excited to begin his Plan II senior thesis on the history of American nation building in Iraq.

Caleb Ford is a rising senior pursuing a BSA in Mathematics with minors in Economics and Government and a certificate in Elements of Computing. He currently serves as the Internal Editor-in-Cheif for Catalyst, the College of Natural Sciences’ official student publication. Before transferring to the University of Texas, Caleb attended Lone Star College in Houston, where he was Vice President of the Honors College and represented Lone Star at the 2018 National Model UN Conference in New York City. He has presented research on the representation of Iroquois and Morrocan ideals in the U.S. Constitution and the Italian Five Star Movement’s e-democracy advocacy at conferences around the country and continues to be interested in the ways technologies can revolutionize, and damage, the governing process. While attending the University of Texas, Caleb has aided for Texas Rep. James Talarico and interned with Public Spend Forum, a technology startup specializing in connecting government buyers through advanced AI. During his last year, he is excited to continue learning about how developing technologies might redefine governance for a new generation.

Mary Ann Hurtado is a Venezuelan-American rising senior majoring in Government, International Relations and Global Studies and pursuing a certificate in Security Studies through the Clements Center for National Security. Mary Ann currently serves UT’s International Relations and Global Studies Council (IRGC) as Co-President and Central Texas Model United Nations (CTMUN) as Under-Secretary-General of Logistics. Before transferring to the Forty Acres, Mary Ann conducted undergraduate research projects on topics ranging from climate change history to nuclear proliferation, became an award-winning international delegate at National Model United Nations (NMUN), traveled to Normandy, France for a human rights boot-camp sponsored by the French Embassy in the U.S., and interned at the City of Houston’s Mayor’s Office of Trade and International Affairs. Outside of academia, Mary Ann’s love for civic engagement landed her work opportunities on Beto O’Rourke’s Senatorial campaign, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s re-election campaign, and her current role as an Advocacy and Field Organizer for Texas Rising and Texas Freedom Network. Recently named a Sidley Pre-law Scholar, Mary Ann aspires to study constitutional law and one day represent the City of Houston in the United States Congress. For now, she enjoys writing music, learning French, and fighting for voting rights.

Sterling Mosley is a rising junior studying International Relations & Global Studies, Government, Economics, and History with a minor in Portuguese and certificates in Security Studies and Business Spanish.  He is particularly interested in territory policy as he pursued a history honors thesis on Puerto Rican Nationalism and a International Relations honors thesis on the various differences on how different countries administer their territories.  Outside of class, Sterling is involved in the Innovations for Peace and Development research lab as a member of the Political Economy and Sovereignty Team and is co-lead for the Governance Team.  Sterling is also the vice-president of International Relations & Global Studies Council, co-president of Intercultural Conversations, internal director for Students for Central and Eastern Europe, an officer in UT Young Historians, an officer in the Young Conservatives of Texas, and a member of the Senate of College Councils.

Tanya Raghu is a rising senior majoring in Plan II Honors, Middle Eastern Studies, and Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures. Her academic interests focus on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East region with an interest in diplomacy and state fragility. She spent the summer prior to her enrollment at UT, studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan through the U.S. State Department National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program. This experience led her to be a scholar in the Arabic Flagship Program and, additionally, be selected for a Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to continue her Arabic coursework for the fourth and final year. This summer, she will be returning to Amman as part of a winning student-faculty team for the 2020-21 President’s Award for Global Learning (PAGL) for a project pertaining to water scarcity in Texas and Jordan. In addition, this past semester she served as a research assistant in the UT Government Department for Dr. Jason Brownlee investigating South Asian migration to Dubai. On campus, she is currently a Clements Center for National Security Undergraduate Fellow and serves as the founder of UThink, a progressive think tank addressing issues faced by students at the university level. Post-graduation, she looks to pursue a career in international journalism and government as a public facing scholar.

Jujhar Singh is a rising junior studying International Relations and Global Studies with a focus on security studies. He is also part of the Arabic Flagship program with the goal of reaching superior proficiency in the language. Jujhar’s interest in the Middle East began in high school where he learned about its global importance and current plight in his Human Geography class. His interest in public service also began at the same time as he participated in service projects in the Boy Scouts. To study Arabic in an immersive environment, he spent a gap year in Morocco with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship which was facilitated by the State Department’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs. At UT, Jujhar is involved in the International Affairs Society, a student organization committed to connecting students with an interest in foreign affairs. He also volunteers with the Refugee Student Mentorship Program where he teaches English to young Afghan elementary school students.  During the Spring 2021 semester he interned at the Jordan Information Bureau where he informed Jordanian diplomats about relevant US policy positions and monitored current events in the Middle East. After graduating from UT, Jujhar hopes to participate in his capstone year with the Flagship program on the Boren scholarship to set the foundations for a career in public service. He enjoys learning about different cultures and while in government, he hopes to use his language skills to improve intercultural communication between Americans and Arabs. He is interested in research about the root causes of crisis in the Middle East and how the United States can play a positive role in helping the region achieve its full potential. After government service, Jujhar hopes to mentor young people with similar goals and mold the next generation of civil servants.

Nikola Skerl is a rising senior studying International Relations and Global Studies with a minor in Arabic and a certificate in Applied Statistical Modeling. A previous senior fellow at the Clements Center for National Security, he is deeply fascinated by the intersection of ethics, decision making, and public policy. On campus, Nikola dabbled with Model United Nations, Student Government, and worked with Innovations for Peace and Development on anti-terrorism financing. In response to COVID-19, he helped found the College Health Alliance for Texas which connected over a dozen Texas universities’ student governments to synthesize student activism. Furthermore, Nikola is passionate about giving back to his community and serves as the current Chair of the Texas Blazers, an honorary service organization acting as official hosts for the University of Texas. In his free time, you can find him running, exploring Austin, or burning himself trying to cook a new recipe.

William Tran is a rising senior majoring in International Relations and Global Studies as well as Government and pursuing certifications in Security Studies and Core Texts and Ideas. His academic interests include researching and dealing with issues that involve national security and East Asian politics. William has also been an Undergraduate Fellow for the Clements Center for National Security since June 2020 and a researcher on the Innovation for Peace and Development’s Data4Peace Team since September 2020, focusing on analyzing territorial control and disputes in Afghanistan. Throughout his college career, William has served as a member and logistics officer for Texas Model United Nations, helping to schedule conferences for UT Austin’s competitive Model UN team, and senior mentor for the Texas Global Macro Team, focusing on research concerning the power and implications of the Chinese financial services industry. As of Fall 2021, he will also be serving as an Undergraduate Member of UT Austin’s Student Conduct Board. Given his Chinese-American background, William can also speak Cantonese and Vietnamese and is currently in his third year of learning Mandarin. When William isn’t focused on international security or foreign affairs, you can expect to find him reading novels about alternate history, watching Korean dramas, hiking, or attempting to learn a new language.

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