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14 Students Poised to Change the World

A grid of photos of 14 diverse, smiling students.
These 14 students and recent graduates are challenging the status quo, shining a light on problems, asking big questions, and proposing innovative solutions.

Challenging the status quo. Shining a light on problems. Asking big questions. Proposing innovative solutions.

These 14 IU students and recent graduates have accomplished so much—just in their time at IU—that it’s hard not to feel hopeful for the future.

A woman with brown skin and shoulder-length, curly, brown hair lifts her chin to the side and smiles broadly. She is wearing a black blazer over a white button-up shirt with pinstripes. She has a nose ring, small hoop earrings, and round, metal-framed eyeglasses.

Salina Tesfagiorgis, senior/first-year MA student
International Studies and Human Rights and International Law
BA/MA Program
IU Bloomington

Tesfagiorgis is a co-founder of Enough is Enough, a peaceful protest in Bloomington in June 2020 that drew thousands in response to George Floyd’s killing and has since grown into an organization focused on building community and advocating for police accountability. As a member of the Hamilton Lugar School’s dean’s advisory board, Tesfagiorgis pitched Black Lives Matter as a Global Movement, a course that will be available at IU in winter 2020.

Two portraits inset into one image. The portrait on the left features an olive-skinned man with dark, wavy hair looking at the camera. The portrait on the right features a man with light-brown skin and short, black hair smiling closed-mouth.
Left – Ahmed, Right – Koraganji

Vakar Ahmed, MS’20
Veda Narayana Koraganji, PhD student
Intelligent Systems Engineering
IU Bloomington

Winners of IU’s 2020 Cheng Wu Innovation Challenge with their project on creating affordable limb prosthetics, Ahmed and Koraganji will use their $7,500 prize money to purchase simulation software and raw materials to test their Modular 3D-Printed Elastomeric Prosthetics project and bring it to market.

A woman with light skin and long brown hair smiles. She is wearing a black blazer over a black-and-white print top.

Lauren Meadows, BA’20
Political Science, History, Spanish
IU Bloomington

Meadows was the 2020 recipient of the Herman B Wells Award, given to a senior who has excelled academically and is an established leader within the IU community.

After graduation, Meadows headed to Washington, D.C. One of only 12 junior fellows at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Meadows will research populism, polarization, and political representation in the U.S. and internationally.

A smiling woman with pale skin and shoulder-length, brown, curly hair. She wears a heart-shaped locket and dark jacket over a pale purple shirt.

Tara Hodson, BS’20
Communication Studies
IU East

Hodson started pursuing her college degree in 1990 but never finished. Family, work, and bilateral sensorineural hearing loss got in the way.

But 30 years later, Hodson has completed her bachelor’s degree through IU East online. In 2019, Hodson was a Summer Research Scholar and developed “Successful Communication Strategies for the Hard of Hearing in the Workplace,” a research project aimed at increasing workplace inclusion through tips and strategies for employers.

This degree isn’t the end for Hodson. She’s currently pursuing her Master of Science through IUPUI.

A man with dark skin and a shaved head smiles. He is wearing a blue-and-red checked button-up shirt and sits at a piano.

Alan Tyson, PhD student
Music and Arts Technology
School of Engineering and Technology

An accomplished musician with a passion for mathematics education, Tyson is researching and developing MuSciQ, a methodology and future digital app that breaks down songs, or parts of songs, through math techniques. He’s finding that music can be a useful intervention for math anxiety that can start as early as elementary school and plague individuals well into adulthood.

A woman with wavy, black hair and pale skin smiles with her mouth closed. She is wearing wearing a purple shirt and small hoop earrings.

Ashley Lopez, senior
Political Science
IU Southeast

As co-chair of the Indiana Latinx Leadership Conference, Lopez helped bring the ILLC to IU Southeast for the first time in the event’s 20-year history.

In the spring of 2020, Lopez was one of only four students in Indiana to receive a Verizon Communications Intern Scholarship, in recognition of her work as an intern with the Indiana General Assembly, getting a front-row seat to the legislative process.

A white man with short, medium-brown hair and dark-rimmed eyeglasses smiles.

Zachary Patterson, BS’20
Computer Science
IU Kokomo

During his senior year, Patterson worked with Professor M. Abdullah Canbaz to create an algorithm for more efficiently distributing available human organ donations.

In December 2019, their publication documenting this project was accepted for the International Conference on Complex Networks and their Applications, which accepts only about 25 percent of submissions.

A woman with tan skin and long, black hair sits in a lab smiling. She is wearing a white lab coat and purple rubber gloves.

Carmen Zavala, BS’20
IU Bloomington

During her freshman year at IU, Zavala’s mother died of an opioid overdose. That tragic event led Zavala to change her major and dedicate herself to helping others affected by opioid addiction.

As an Advanced Summer Research Scholar, Zavala worked in an IU lab researching non-addictive pain treatments as part of IU’s Grand Challenge initiative Responding to the Addictions Crisis.

A woman with light skin and dark-blonde, slightly wave hair stares ahead. The left corner of her mouth is slightly lifted. She wears a white button-up shirt and a small pendant on a thin necklace chain.

Coral Lee Dorsch, BFA’20
Graphic Design, Cinematography
IU South Bend

On a mission to save the world’s coral reefs, Dorsch is using her cinematography skills to shine a light on the devastating effects of climate change on coral habitats.

A woman with brown skin and short, cropped hair smiles broadly. She wears and black-and-white striped blazer and has her arms crossed at her chest.

Shanalee Gallimore, PhD student
Higher Education and Student Affairs, Counseling Psychology
IU Bloomington

Gallimore is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious John H. Edwards Fellowship, awarded to an IU graduate student who demonstrates good citizenship, character, and an attitude toward public service.

“Through my research and my profession, I will work toward helping to create an environment in which minorities do not have to deny certain parts of their identities in order to be considered successful,” Gallimore says.

A woman with olive skin smiles at the camera. She wears dark-rimmed glasses, a floral print top, and an orange-red hijab.

Laila Nawab, BS’20
IU Northwest

From a self-proclaimed shy high school student, Nawab grew into a confident leader in her time at IU Northwest, serving as president of the Student Government Association and in leadership roles with the Muslim Student Association and Student Activities Board.

With the support of the Minority Opportunity for Research Experience grant, this aspiring physician worked on a multidisciplinary research project related to hydroponics. Up next is med school.

Two portraits inset into one image. The portrait on the left features a smiling man with medium-brown skin and short, dark hair wearing a black suit with a red tie. The portrait on the right features a smiling man with light-brown skin and short, dark hair wearing a black suit with a gold tie.
Left – Saunders, Right – Gilani

Jordan Saunders, med student
Aaron Gilani, med student
IU School of Medicine

Saunders and Gilani are two of the IU School of Medicine students (along with Alexandra Jostes and Eric Galante) who co-founded Prescribe it Forward, a national nonprofit providing free mentorship to aspiring doctors.

The program is geared toward those who might not otherwise have a mentor in the field—especially underrepresented minorities, first-generation, LGBTQ+, nontraditional, and otherwise disadvantaged applicants.

This article originally appeared in the fall 2020 issue of IMAGINE magazine.

Written By

Andrea Alumbaugh

A native Hoosier, Andrea Alumbaugh is a graduate of IU (BAJ’08) and a senior writer at the IU Foundation.

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