Women in Public Service Project

Students (spring 2014)

Shawar Ali

Shawar Ali

Shahwar Ali


Shahwar Ali is studying Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, and Communications at Berea College. Shahwar is originally from Islamabad, Pakistan. During the summer of 2014 she was awarded the Jerome W. Hughes Humanities Award to study Turkish Language, and Migration and Urbanization at Koc University, Turkey. Since then she has developed passion for travelling, international development, grant writing, photography, poverty alleviation, and public health. After she completes her undergraduate studies, she intends to travel to Africa and work there for awhile before returning to graduate school. If you want to reach Shahwar, you can email to her at: alis@berea.edu

Gloire Bayeba

Gloire Bayeba

Gloire Bayeba


I’m a standing sophomore majoring in Women and Gender Studies and Economics with an international politics and policy concentration. I was born in Democratic Republic of the Congo and raised in Gabon. From an early age I witnessed how the government can mistreat and deny freedom to those who disagree with their views. My family and I were derailed, humiliated and forced to leave the Congo by the government. This experience has driven me to strive for justice for the people of the DRC, especially women who are marginalized and seen as second class citizens.

I was unaware that there was a course that discusses critical global issues affecting women daily. During my freshmen year at Berea College I realized my passion for wanting to be educated in that field of study. In the future, I see myself working with those who will be uplifting Africa and will be working on expanding young African women’s rights. To be able to achieve this goal, I would like to become a United Nations ambassador so I can represent my country in order to draft laws that protect the underrepresented and misunderstood women.
Erica Berejnoi

Erica Berejnoi

Erica Berejnoi


"Extracurricular activities have always played an important role in my life, starting as early as an altar girl for my community church.

Before coming to Berea College, I worked in Bolivia for an organization called 'Exposaludable.'  This group holds an annual fair to promote a healthy lifestyle. They offer healthy products and services so the citizens know what was available to them. My two years with EBAES  led me to discover my passion for sustainability practices.

During  my first year as a Bonner Scholar at Berea, I was responsible for making a presentation about something I was passionate about; I  made recycled paper and talked about the importance of  taking care of our natural resources so that future generations can also enjoy the environment. I plan on continuing my focus on sustainability practices, so that more and more people realize  the importance of this movement for the good of our society."
Katie Boyd

Katie Boyd

Katie Boyd


Katie Boyd is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and is currently a senior at Berea College pursing a degree in Sociology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Prior to her transition to college, Katie graduated from high school as number four in her class with a 4.1 GPA. Also to mention, she served as President of the National Honor Society. On top of many of her achievements, Katie has been featured on FOX 6 News, Cox Radio, Birmingham News and AL Magazine to discuss her success story as a Cristo Rey Alumni. She is a proud Bonner Scholar and active alumni of Cristo Rey, Emerging Scholars and the ACE Program.

Katie is a recent graduate of Inroads, a program designed to help business gain greater access to diverse talent through continuous leadership development of diverse students and placement of those students in internships at many of North America’s top corporations, firms, and organizations.  She has worked for her sponsoring company, Vulcan Materials Company, through Inroads for four consecutive summers. Katie started her first internship at the age of 15 and she has obtained experience and knowledge in fields such as Accountants Receivables, Procurement and now in Human Resources.

Katie plans to further her education by obtaining her MBA and PhD to accommodate her career in Human Resources and Criminology. Through her Summer of Service as a Bonner Scholar she established “Rising Scholars,” a program designed to enhance teenagers from urban communities with the skills and resources to become successful in their future endeavors.

Through her labor at Berea College, she is the Student Director at the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS).  Berea College has been a great experience for her and she is very thankful for all of her mentors and professors that impacted her life. Katie quotes “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise,” (Maya Angelou). Every day, Katie strives to reach hearts of others through service.
Jacob Burdette

Jacob Burdette

Jacob Burdette


Jacob Burdette is a senior at Berea College and is majoring in Sociology with minors in Women's and Gender Studies and Latin. He has been involved in leadership roles since a very young age through the Boy Scouts of America, which culminated in his Eagle Scout Project to beautify and retrofit Temple Beth-El in Beckley, WV.

While attending college, Jacob was extended the opportunity to participate in various leadership roles, most notably his positions as Freshman Class Vice-President, Sophomore Class President, Junior Class President, and Research Developer of the Berea Community Food System Assessment. He was able to coordinate and participate in various campus and community-wide initiatives through his capacity in the former three, and was able to design a consumer-based survey regarding food security and availability through the latter.

Jacob now serves as Vice-President of the Berea College Student Government Organization and as Communications Director of the Mortar Board National College Honor Society. Jacob is employed as Editor-in-Chief of Apollon​, the undergraduate e-journal at the college, and will begin teaching secondary math in Eastern Kentucky in the Fall of 2015 through Teach for America. Although he has held many types of leadership role, he is always looking to expand upon his current experience-base, and thoroughly appreciates the opportunity extended to him by the Women in Public Service Project.
Kt Burlett

Kt Burlett

Kt Burlett


Kt Burlett is a Junior Women's and Gender Studies major at Berea College. If there could be one word to describe her, the only word that would come close is multi-faceted. In her studies, Kt has expressed interest in a variety of different topics including the genocide of women and girls, sexual and domestic violence, diet and health, the prison pipeline system, comprehensive sex education, prostitution, human trafficking, issues of inter-sexuality, child birth,  male and female media representations, online sexual predators, cyber violence, sustainability, and much much more.

In exploration of a few of her interests, Kt will spend the summer of 2014 interning in Portland, Oregon. She will work with a non-profit organization known as The Cupcake Girls. The Cupcake Girls are a group who provide non-judgmental support to exotic dancers. Following her internship, Kt will be studying gender and sexuality in the Netherlands on a study abroad program during the fall of 2014. Her proposed research during this time is the menstrual experiences of Dutch-Moroccan Muslim immigrant women in Amsterdam.

Finally, after graduation, Kt plans to participate in a doctorate program to receive her PhD. Upon completion of her degree, she wants to teach Women's and Gender Studies. Kt would also like to work a multitude of other jobs during her lifetime. To name a few, these include 911 operator, doula, member of a non-profit, public speaker, political activist, and an author. Her goal is to change the world and she's determined to make it happen.
Natalie Cao

Natalie Cao

Natalie Cao


I am currently a sophomore Education Studies major, intending to pursue a doctorate in Education Leadership. Being born and raised in a developing country – Vietnam – I understand deeply the crucial role of good education in fostering both society and individual liberty.

I was the co-founder of Vietnam Youth Education Support Center, an organization aiming at creating more opportunities for Vietnamese students to participate in extracurricular activities. Besides, growing up in an environment that did not favor women as those who take care of things beyond their home, I am intensely passionate for raising awareness of women’s capacities. My life goals are to reform the rigid Vietnamese education system, to build the schools where students are excited to learn and teachers are happy to teach, and to have a happy family as many other women dream about.
Mira Denton

Mira Denton

Mira Denton


Mira Denton is a Senior Political Science major with a minor in Philosophy. Since a young age, she has been socially and politically engaged in her home community of White Pine, Tennessee.  In high school, she actively campaigned for local officials in school board elections, and was a regular volunteer for Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries. She also founded a senior class giving program, leaving her high school with a legacy of volunteerism and creating a tradition of giving that each senior class continues to uphold.

Since coming to Berea College, she has fostered her commitment to service by holding leadership roles in multiple campus organizations, such as the Speech and Debate Team and Student Government. She has been an advocate for social and education equality in Appalachia by sitting on the Board of Directors for multiple local nonprofit organizations, including the STAY Project. Her true passion lies in advocating for equal opportunity in education policy. Through her personal experience and work with Upward Bound, she saw the need for education equality, and has recently been working with a civic engagement nonprofit, Project Pericles, to advocate for the needs of impoverished students in her home state of Tennessee. After graduating from Berea College, Mira intends to further her commitment and passion for education equality by running for public office and pursing a law degree.
Janice D'Souza

Janice D'Souza

Janice D'Souza


My earliest leadership experience was at an Indian non-profit where we taught under privileged children English and basic computer skills. I was the Vice President of Public Relations and helped raise funds and awareness for the organization, which was recently recognized by Michelle Obama.

When I came to America from India, I became involved in student government at Berea, first as Senator-at-large and in my junior and senior year as the Executive Vice President working closely with the college president and the board of trustees among others. I serve as the student representative on different committees including Strategic Planning which looks at institutional changes on a macro level.

In 2012, I helped start a campaign for social investing in our college endowment. I am also a Berea Ambassador who engages with alumni and philanthropists. My other leadership positions on campus have been President of the Cosmopolitan 'International' Club and now as the President of the Canterbury Club.
Tahira Ebaady

Tahira Ebaady

Tahira Ebaady


I am a junior double major in Political Science and Business Management. I am from Afghanistan, a country where Islamic Sharia law is used to justify violence against women. A society where women still have to go the extra mile, and work twice as hard and make extra sacrifices to prove that they are equal to men.

Being born in a traditional and male dominated country, I feel blessed to be able to break the bastions of traditions and stereotypes that discriminate against women and position them in a lower level than men. Only few people in this world are given the privilege to bring a change to their society and break the chains of patriarchy and ultimately give hope to millions of women who had no hope before. I want to be that hope for women and to show them that taking their own lives through self immolation is not the way out; that they should fight and never give up.

My ultimate goal in the future is to be able to build secularism as a form of government in Afghanistan and make religion a private practice that is not corrupted by politics and not misused to treat women unfairly. In addition, to make sure that all the harmful traditional practices that violate women’s rights be criminalized.
Moondil Jahan

Moondil Jahan

Moondil Jahan


Although I have interests in Biological Sciences, Art History, Religion, Performing Arts and Entrepreneurial Leadership, Public Service has always appealed to me. I realized the importance of this field while serving as a Youth Advisor at U.S. Ambassador's Youth Council (U.S. Department of State).

As I delve into unleashing my natural skills, I have discovered that I have a passion for translating research into action, i.e. utilizing resources for the benefit of public.
Candice King

Candice King

Candice King


Candice King is a Junior Economics major with focus in International Economic Policy. She is also double minoring in Peace and Social Justice Studies, and Sustainability Environmental and Natural Sciences.  Candice is from Wichita, Kansas and is a proud mother of three and resides with her husband and children in the Berea College Ecovillage. She has been a consistently active member of her various communities for the last 20 years, has been an elected member of the national committee of the Socialist Party- USA , was a regular facilitator in the Occupy movement (in Kansas), and has freely volunteered her time and labor to multiple community groups, university organizations, non-profit organizations, and causes since she was in the fifth grade. Candice is dedicated to a life of activism, and public service.

As someone who is a self-identified (and card-carrying) member of the revolutionary leftist movement, Candice is motivated to promote and precipitate a global shift away from the hegemony of western ideals. She holds steadfast to the belief in the necessity of a revolutionary change in the status quo, in order to better reflect principles involving collectivism, environmentalism, and egalitarianism. Candice is devoted to the ideal of a world without exploitation, arbitrary borders, marginalization or stratification. Her greatest hope is to experience a world that values equality for all, greater than it does profit, within her lifetime.
Angie Li

Angie Li

Angie Li


Angie Li is a Computer Science major at Berea College. She works as the Student Web Development Manager at the Alumni Relations Office. She has gravitated towards leadership roles since her freshman year in high school.

She has held office positions in National Technical Honor Society, FCCLA, and JROTC. It was here that her interests for public service culminated. This interest only grew with her experience in the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good program, which sought to help small business owners increase their economic vitality.

Experienced in community outreach, in both rural and urban areas, she has delved into communities of many sides of the economic spectrum. She is able to work under pressure with a calm demeanor and has good decision making skills. Angie hopes to channel these abilities to make a positive impact on her community.
Brenna Mahoney

Brenna Mahoney

Brenna Mahoney


Brenna Mahoney is originally from Marquette, Michigan where she was a young participant of the Eagle Alliance advocacy campaign for clean water and protection of the Yellowdog Watershed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She took her passion to Northern Kentucky prior to college where she continued her work with water through several river cleaning groups and sessions.

From a young age her deep empathy for others drove Brenna to seek service as an outlet. Her passion for Public Service stems from her research in the field of Psychology with Dr. Wendy Williams at Berea College. Her studies have led her interests to advocate for collective action, social class, and poverty.

Brenna is a Senior at Berea College and is in pursuit of a BA in Psychology. After graduation, Brenna is seeking a position in Bloomington, Indiana where she plans to continue advocating for women, children, and the disabled.
Aziza Morris

Aziza Morris

Aziza Morris


My name is Aziza Morris and I am a senior at Berea College. I am majoring in Communication, with minors in both Women’s and Gender Studies and African-American Studies.

I am interested in pursuing career-related (and mentoring) opportunities to grow as a leader. Youth outreach and community programming, in terms of public relations, are two areas I gravitate toward. I am committed to social justice issues in both my personal and professional lives.
Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen


Tran Nguyen is a sophomore at Berea College working towards a B.S. in Public Policy with a concentration in Women's and Gender Studies. Recently, she has been accepted to the 2015-2016 General Course Program at London School of Economics and Political Science. Tran's research and professional interests center around public policies, women's rights, entrepreneurship, and international relations in Southeast Asia.

One of 20 students admitted to Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program, she has discovered an interest in the entrepreneurial mindset and design thinking. She believes that teaching entrepreneurship to women is an effective strategy to empower them for leadership. As a candidate for the 2014 Stanford-Venture Well University Innovation Fellow Program, she is working with the staff and faculty to promote entrepreneurship and innovation on Berea's campus.

Prior to her enrollment at Berea College, Tran volunteered with various organizations such as YMCA and the Friends For Street Children Association (FFSC). She also participated in international youth conferences, namely the 2012 ASEAN Student Forum and the 2013 International Student Week in Ilmenau (ISWI).

Outside the classroom, Tran serves in the Student Government Association as the Secretary of Health. She is an active member of Berea College's Speech and Debate Team. She loves traveling and learning about different cultures in the world. In her free time, she also enjoys playing piano and singing.
Megi Papiashvili

Megi Papiashvili

Megi Papiashvili


I am an international student from the Republic of Georgia, double-majoring in Spanish and Political Science. Growing up, many of my friends and I had virtually no chance to read books. In Georgia, the library system was and still is very convoluted, which discourages children to start and enjoy reading. Part of the problem is also the fact that, because of the low income rate, most Georgian parents cannot afford to buy books for their children.

The older I get the clearer it becomes how crucial it is to help children have access to books. No child should be denied the chance to read the books that will give them knowledge and experience to make the right decisions in their lives. It is my biggest goal to work on the projects that help libraries simplify their overly complicated systems, and help children have access to books to read.
Kathryn Pliml

Kathryn Pliml

Kathryn Pliml


Kathryn Pliml first acted on her passion for social service at seventeen, travelling to Honduras for two months in order to volunteer as an assistant teacher at a local elementary school and a mentor at a local orphanage. She came to Berea College with her eyes set on pursuing a career in social justice and has done so through various volunteer experiences and internships.

She has spent her time studying child development and social work, and has worked closely under case managers at the therapeutic foster care agency in Berea, KY. Most recently, Kathryn traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she spent time honing her Spanish language skills and learning from government social workers in the area. She has also worked with a community in Grand Rapids, MI that provides a housing-first model for addressing homelessness.

Her passions lie in the struggles that women in poverty have to endure in the face of social injustice, and her involvement in the Women in Public Service Project plays a large role in further development of this heartfelt passion.
Nadine Umutoni

Nadine Umutoni

Nadine Umutoni


My name is Nadine Umutoni, a senior double major in Peace and Social Justice Studies and Communication.  I was born in Rwanda, and grew up in Tanzania and hence my knowledge of Swahili, English, Rwandese and French.

I am currently the Service Learning Program Manager at the Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) and the Community Friendship Coordinator at the Center for International Education (CIE).

I am more than honored to be among the twenty scholars chosen annually  into the CAUX Scholar Program. This one month educational experience that takes place in Switzerland teaches students to analyze conflicts, to understand the factors that create and sustain conflicts and provide practical understanding of approaches to resolving conflicts.

Having lived as a refugee, I have developed an interest and passion for working with refugees across the world. I have had the privilege of working with the Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of  Atlanta where I was the Resettlement Intern. Here, I worked hands on with the newly arrived refugees, and help them resettle in the United States. I have got also the opportunity of interning with the Caritas of Austin in the Refugee Employment department.

Upon graduating from Berea, I look forward to pursuing a Master’s degree in either Public Service, Diplomacy or Conflict Resolution, and later on pursuing a career with working with Refugee International Organizations across the World.

In my free time at Berea, I volunteer with the Adopt-a-Grandparent, where I spent some time each week to interact with the elderly in our community. I have been volunteering for three years now, and I learn something new every time I visit with them.

I am honored to be part of the Women In Public Service Project where I have been inspired by many women leaders who visit my class weekly. Through the Women in Public Service class, I will strengthen my confidence skills as a woman, and achieve my goals of becoming a woman leader.
Kerstin Wright

Kerstin Wright

Kerstin Wright


I hail from the beautiful town of Aiken, South Carolina. I am the youngest of three children from wonderful parents who always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up.  I aspire to be a criminal attorney that fights for social justice.

Berea College requires you to look at the issues in the world, and when I looked at these issues I found one that touched my heart.  I have developed a passion for fighting against human trafficking.

So many people in the world are enslaved for sex, labor, or various other things. Specifically, sexual violence is something that touches my heart. I know that human trafficking and specifically sex trafficking are giant issues that one person cannot end, but one person can start a change. Berea College and the courses that I have had the opportunity to take are giving me the tools to be the person to start that change.

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