Chancellor’s Scholars

Class of 2022

Natalie Britton

My name is Natalie Britton, and I’m a senior economics major (with four minors/certificates including Geographic Information Systems, something I’d never heard of before Pitt!) from Allentown, PA. I’ve always been passionate about environmental issues, and my time at Pitt has led me to aspire to a career centered around environmental justice. After graduation next year, I hope to take a gap year working either domestically or abroad before pursuing a master’s in environmental management or public health.

Outside of the classroom, I’ve tried out several clubs and volunteering experiences that have helped me explore the awesome neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Something I’ve especially enjoyed has been leading an Adopt a Block street clean up team in Oakland with my service club Circle K. Because it was outdoors and covid safe, this activity helped us to stay connected with our new members even during the pandemic, which felt really rewarding considering the freshmen were having such a tough year. Another experience I’ve really loved has been serving as an undergraduate teaching assistant and peer tutor. It’s been really fun helping younger students get through tough classes and navigate the adjustment to college life.

Being a Chancellor’s Scholar was my first glimpse at what it feels like to be part of an interdisciplinary community. The people I met through the program have such a wide range of interests and majors, and they helped me feel comfortable exploring my interests on campus right from the start. This past summer I had the opportunity to join another interdisciplinary community while working on research regarding the relationship between environmental justice and public housing. My summer cohort at the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation was mostly made up of engineers, and it was awesome to be a part of a community where we could all learn something new from one another although my research looked so different from theirs. Everyone at Pitt has really encouraged me to seek out a multidisciplinary experience at every step of the way, and that has been my favorite part of my time here.

Renee Cantor

Hi! My name is Renee Cantor (she, her) and I am a senior at the University of Pittsburgh. I am double majoring in English literature and fiction writing (so I like to joke that I am double majoring in English and English) and minoring in Spanish. I am also a Chancellor’s Scholar.

A big part of my academic career at Pitt has been my independent research. I am specifically interested in American environmental literature and using it to study the relationship the United States has with nature, one in which land is a point of pride but is also mistreated. This began with a study of Appalachian Trail thru-hiking memoirs and their connection to American Romantic and Transcendentalist texts from the 19th century, specifically Henry David Thoreau’s “Walking.” Overall, my project is focused on literature about camping and wilderness pilgrimages. This summer, I was awarded the Summer Undergraduate Research Award through Pitt’s Office of Undergraduate Research and I am now working on writing my thesis. This will culminate in a BPhil, which is jointly awarded by Pitt Honors. Looking forward, I want to pivot to focus more on writing instead of literary studies, so I will be applying for MFA creative writing programs.

Outside of academics, I am an editor for Forbes & Fifth, Pitt’s interdisciplinary research journal. I have also been a board member of Pitt’s chapter of Challah for Hunger since freshman year. In my free time I love reading, writing, hiking, and baking. My idea of bliss is hammocking outside of the Carnegie Library with a good friend and a book. I’m also convinced that I have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe (and I will share it with you).

Being a Chancellor’s Scholar has given me the space and freedom to explore my different academic interests freely, without financial stress or the fear that my studies are “impractical.” Furthermore, curiosity and exploration have been encouraged right from the start of my academic career; the course I took freshman year with my fellow Chancellor’s Scholars, which introduced us to academics from across the university, inspired me to explore classes in different departments. I am also constantly inspired by my peers, their interests, and the work they are doing.

Lori Huang

I am currently a senior majoring in Biological Sciences with minors in Chemistry and Korean. In conjunction, I am pursuing the Honors Distinction and Asian Studies Certificate. I’m hoping to apply to medical school next year after graduating and taking a gap year. Besides STEM, I am also interested in design and creativity and have served as the co-Art Director of The Pitt Pulse, Pitt’s student-run scientific literary magazine, since I was a freshman. I also volunteer at the UPMC Children’s Hospital as a Patient Ambassador to guide and greet patients and their families. 

Being a Chancellor’s Scholar has allowed me to pursue and explore these varied interests throughout my time at Pitt. I’ve had the pleasure to meet accomplished peers and faculty and foster connections that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to. The Chancellor’s Scholarship is what pushed me to commit to Pitt and I am very glad and grateful that I did. The education is truly vigorous and I have met some fantastic people here. 

I hope that I can stay in Pittsburgh in the future for my gap year and perhaps career. In my free time, I like to explore Pittsburgh’s restaurants and local businesses (I have been to a cat café and there’s a place where I want to make my own candle soon!) and I’m sure that there are many more places that I have yet to discover.

Bobby O’Brien

I’m a senior at the University of Pittsburgh’s Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, where I am pursuing degrees in Politics & Philosophy (BA) and Natural Sciences (BS) with minors in Gender Studies and Economics. My academic interests lie in queer theory, public health education and promotion, and the history and philosophy of medicine.

As a student at Pitt, I discovered a passion for working with youth through the Ready to Learn tutoring and mentoring program, as part of the Center for Urban Education. This work led me to take a gap year in 2020, during which I served with KEYS AmeriCorps as a teacher’s assistant at Brashear High School in the Beechview neighborhood of Pittsburgh. In this role, I also served as a faculty advisor for the school’s Rainbow Alliance, which ignited my interest in working with LGBTQIA+ youth. In addition to tutoring and mentoring, I have spent three years as a research assistant in the School of Public Health on a project to develop an interactive video game to help sexual and gender minority youth cope with bullying. My work on this topic has been featured at the American Public Health Association Conference and in the Games for Health Journal.

This fall, I will be taking part in the Elsie Hillman Honors Scholar program, where I will be working with True T Pittsburgh, an organization that celebrates queer people of color through creative art, community health, and social activism. I credit Pitt Honors and the Chancellor’s Scholarship with providing incredible opportunities (like the Elsie Hillman program) to explore their academic interests and make a difference in the local community. After graduation, I hope to continue my work in public service and community health sciences by fighting for inclusive and affirming healthcare practices for queer patients in Pittsburgh.

My favorite animal is the gentoo penguin, and in my spare time I love to read, bake, and play with my border collie Olive.

Samantha Wismer

Hello! My name is Samantha Wismer, and I am a Senior Mechanical Engineering Student. I am from Erie, Pennsylvania, but with all the family I have in Pittsburgh, it has always felt like a second home.

During the school year I am part of Theta Tau, a co-ed professional engineering fraternity. Through them I have all sorts of opportunities to serve the community, grow professionally, and bond with my fellow engineering students. I am also an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Thermodynamics, Statics and Mechanics of Materials 1, and Introduction to Electrical Circuits. For this work, I have been recognized by the Mechanical Engineering and Material Science department with an Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant award. Additionally, I am an Undergraduate Academic Coach through the University’s Study Lab. I also work under Dr. Matthew Barry as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. With him I have published two conference papers focusing on Engineering Education.

During the Summer, I have interned for GE Transportation, a Wabtec Company and Westinghouse Electric Company. During the summer of 2020, I worked with Dr. Barry to write a textbook for Statics and Mechanics of Materials 1. We plan to publish the book externally after the text’s second implementation within the University this fall.

I plan to pursue an advanced degree after graduation with a focus in Nuclear Engineering. Where I will pursue that degree, even I do not know.

To me, being a Chancellor’s Scholar means the University of Pittsburgh saw me as a person with potential to do great things; someone they wanted to invest in to make sure that potential could be reached.

Class of 2023

Sophie Beacom

My name is Sophie Beacom, and I’m a junior at the University of Pittsburgh. I’m from a small town just outside of Columbus, Ohio called Grandview Heights. After moving there when I was three, I grew up through elementary, middle, and high school with about the same 70 kids in my grade. When we all began to look for colleges, I found out about Pitt through some great recommendations given to my mom. I drove through the Fort Pitt tunnel for the first time as the sun set, and a couple months later I was lucky enough to learn that I’d received the Chancellor’s Scholarship.

That first view of the city of Pittsburgh held so much potential, and being a Chancellor’s Scholar has afforded so many opportunities to realize that potential. I’m pursuing a major in Political Science and a major in Urban Studies, but within the cohort of Chancellor’s Scholars, I’ve met people taking classes on everything from rocket science to propaganda. An important value of the Honors College in my time at Pitt has been “crossing boundaries.” Essentially, that also summarizes what the Chancellor’s Scholarship has meant to me; crossing boundaries of mentorship, creativity, and expectation to carve out my own academic and professional spot in the world.

Going forward, I’m considering a five-year masters program through the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Although I’m uncertain of my specific path, I’m extremely interested in working on the issue of affordable housing in Pittsburgh, and how it can be considered through concepts in political theory. The opportunities I’ve been provided by the Honors College alongside the many diverse neighborhoods of Pittsburgh have sparked a passion for studying how we answer social justice questions on the stage of the city, and I can’t wait to continue this pursuit over the remainder of my time at the University of Pittsburgh.

Anna Baskin

Hello! My name is Anna Baskin, and I study computer science, international studies, and Arabic. I am interested in using cutting-edge techniques in machine learning and data analytics to enhance our understanding of international politics and current events, with a special focus on the Middle East. As a Computer Science major who is also pursuing a Bachelor of Philosophy in International Studies, I appreciate the flexibility and interdisciplinary nature of the Honors College. I was excited to come to a school which not only allowed, but actively encouraged the pursuit of such diverse interests.

At Pitt, I’ve had the opportunity to develop my research skills under phenomenal professors. As a research assistant for Professor Ross Harrison, I gathered and synthesized research papers, news articles and primary sources on historical Iranian empires for his upcoming book on the foreign politics of Iran. With Professor Michael Colaresi, I learned the basics of machine learning while deconstructing his ViEWS algorithm, an early-warning system for conflict in Africa which uses geographic, political, economic data to predict political violence. Outside of the university, this summer I completed an internship with the defense contractor ManTech, where I researched and developed optical character recognition technology which allows computers to read text from images.

To me, being a Chancellor’s Scholar is not just about being a good student. Chancellor’s Scholars are active learners, excited to learn about the world and overflowing with new ideas about how it could be improved. Drawing on the Honors College’s interdisciplinary nature, Chancellor’s Scholars are eager to combine their varied interests to form new, exciting perspectives. The scholarship, and indeed the Honors College as a whole, exists to support these new ideas and help students cultivate and combine their passions.

Ellie Cook

I am a junior from Oak Hill, Virginia. I am majoring in History and Psychology with a minor in Africana Studies. I intend to attend law school after graduation and plan to become a lawyer to focus on issues involving racial inequality and mass incarceration and to work to exonerate individuals who were wrongfully convicted.

While at Pitt, I co-founded College Advocates for Top Care and Health (C.A.T.C.H.), a student organization to promote Black health and raise awareness of Black issues through educational discussions, advocacy, community engagement, and collaboration with local nonprofits and activists. C.A.T.C.H. aims to help Black people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, those who lack access to adequate healthcare, Black trans people, incarcerated Black people, and others in the Black community. I currently serve as President of the organization. In addition to C.A.T.C.H., I am the Outreach Chair for Eat@Pitt, a student organization that supports small restaurants owned by immigrants by visiting, meeting with the owners, sharing a meal, and then writing an article to promote the business. I also tutor Somali Bantu refugees for Keep It Real and am a member of the fundraising committee for the Crisis Relief Club.

In my sophomore year at Pitt, I interned for the Lissa Geiger Shulman campaign for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Bryan Neft Campaign for Judge in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and the Nicola Henry-Taylor Campaign for the Court of Common Pleas, where I worked with campaign staff to reach out to voters.

The Chancellor’s Scholarship has given me a community of passionate peers who encourage me to become a better student by diving deeper into my studies and exploring different and exciting avenues of interest.

Loretta Donoghue

My name is Loretta Donoghue (they/them), and I am a Chancellor’s Scholar at Pitt’s Honors College. I am majoring in Africana Studies and Political Science with the intention of pursuing a graduate degree in refugee studies. The majority of my classes, research, and extracurriculars revolve around my passion of supporting refugee youth. This includes my jobs at ARYSE and Open Field, two nonprofits that help refugee youth find a sense of belonging and get accustomed to their transitions; my research on human security with Dr. Dave Fraser that I will be conducting this fall with GSPIA students; and, my role as co-president and founder of Soccer for Social Change, a Pitt-affiliated club that finds volunteer opportunities with refugee support organizations for interested college students.

I simply cannot overstate how meaningful the Chancellor’s Scholarship has been for me. Without it, I would undoubtedly lack the financial security to attend a four year university. Of course, there is nothing wrong with attending community college, but many of the marvelous opportunities I have found at Pitt are, unfortunately, not accessible to most junior colleges. Being a Chancellor’s Scholar is not an easy task — we are expected to rise to any challenge and push each other to find our greatest selves — but with the support of the Honors College mentors, the financial security of the scholarship, and the multitude of opportunities in the city of Pittsburgh, I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined when I first stepped foot on campus two years ago. As I enter my third year of university, I am proud of all that I have accomplished thus far, and I am infinitely grateful that my scholarship allowed me to get where I am today.

Michelle Furmansky

My name is Michelle Furmansky and I am a junior majoring in Economics and Politics & Philosophy. In addition, I am studying Spanish and Portuguese to prepare for future traveling and connect with more people abroad. My academic interests are rather scattered—I enjoy studying everything from international trade to poetry to legal history to languages like Spanish and Portuguese. Being a Chancellor’s Scholar has encouraged me to explore these fields without the pressures of graduating as soon as possible and only taking classes which could be deemed more “practical”. I am thinking about pursuing law school or graduate school after graduation with a focus in economic policy or prosecuting financial fraud.

In terms of extracurriculars, most of my time is devoted to working for and with nonprofits. I have been a member of Incline Consulting Group, a student pro-bono consulting group which helps nonprofits in the Pittsburgh area, since the spring of 2019. I began working with ICG as a consultant, then as a project manager, and now I am the Vice President of Community Relations. Through this organization, I have worked directly with three Pittsburgh nonprofits including Coraopolis Youth Creations, and have recruited and designed projects for six other nonprofits in my current role. In the future, I hope to expand Incline’s impact across a greater diversity of nonprofits and increase its number of student volunteers.

I also devote much of my time to the nonprofit Literacy Pittsburgh, where I teach English as a Second Language twice a week to an adult student who immigrated from El Salvador. As the daughter of immigrants myself, this has been a very rewarding experience. I find it very important to help others receive the same resources which so greatly benefited my family. I hope that over the course of the next few months, I can help my student reach an intermediate level of English such that she will be able to navigate her workplace, the supermarket, and other daily situations with more ease and understanding.

Outside of nonprofit work, I am the Vice President of a club called Emerging Business Issues, which discusses current events in a business context, and the Vice President of Panther Swing, Pitt’s swing dance club. In addition, I founded and currently run the Chancellor’s Scholars Network, an alumni and student organization which brings current and former Chancellor’s Scholars together over events like alumni Q&As and learning about food insecurity in Pittsburgh. The number of interesting and driven people that I have met through this experience has made me incredibly grateful to receive this scholarship. Above all else, the ability to connect with other passionate and intellectually curious individuals has been the best part about being a Chancellor’s Scholar.

Celeste Lintz

I am a third-year bioengineering student at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in cellular engineering technologies with focus in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and molecular biology. Additionally, I am a political science minor with a passion for the public policy process. I am interested in looking at the intersection between policy and STEM.

For the entirety of 2021, I have an engineering co-op with the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi S.A., working at their Genzyme location in Framingham, Massachusetts. Headquartered in Paris, France, Sanofi is known for its multinational presence as a worldwide leader in cardiovascular and central nervous system health, diabetes, internal medicine, oncology, rare disease research, and vaccines. At Sanofi Genzyme, I am a biologics co-op with the Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) department within their Industrial Affairs business unit. I work closely across the HSE team to design and implement technology solutions to enhance productivity and efficiency in data management within the department and across the Framingham campus. Thus far, I have led multiple campus-wide projects to enhance current signage efforts, documentation and audit finding observations, and +QDCI (corporate-required daily meetings) processes.

Outside of academics, I am an active member of extracurriculars on campus. I am on the Pitt Collegiate D1 cheerleading team, representing Pitt at sporting and promotional events. Also, I am on the executive board of a couple of organizations. I am the 2021-2022 External Vice President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) as well as the Fall 2021 Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of the Zeta chapter of the social engineering sorority, Phi Sigma Rho. Growing up as a member of a military family, my experiences with the Navy have shaped my world view. In the coming years at Pitt, I hope to find ways to volunteer and give back to my military community because this community has given so much to me.

As a Chancellor’s Scholar, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by the guidance and support of the Honors College. I am not limited as an engineering major to simply the Swanson School of Engineering – I am able to pursue my dual passions in political science and public policy, as well. Starting in the Fall of 2021, I plan to work with Honors Mentor Dave Fraser on the new working group at the Ford Institute for Human Security that focuses on international development and sustainability. This will allow me the opportunity to be exposed to applied development policy-oriented research outside of my engineering major.

Vandana Macha

My name is Vandana, and I am currently a third-year student at the University of Pittsburgh. I am pursuing a degree in economics as well as a certificate in global health. I came into Pitt being interested in global health, and after taking a few classes, I learned that many of the public health issues that occur worldwide can be addressed through policy. A large part of the policy-making process involves analysis of the costs and economic impacts of various policies.  This motivated my decision to pursue a degree in economics. Combining this with the global health certificate allows me to understand the intersection of these two subjects of study.

In an effort to learn more about health economics and health policy analysis, I have been working as a research assistant under a health economist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. Working as a research assistant has given me insight into the steps involved in policy analysis, and how looking at the efficiency of past policies can help inform future policy decisions. My interest in global health and global affairs has also motivated me to be involved in Pitt Model United Nations. This club has allowed me to expand both my knowledge of current international affairs as well as improve my public speaking skills through civil debates. After graduating from Pitt, I hope to go to graduate school to study public health policy with a focus in health economics and pursue a career in policy analysis.

Being a Chancellor’s Scholar has enabled me to fully explore my interests in this area of study. It has exposed me to a community of students with diverse and interdisciplinary interests, which has given me motivation to dive deeper into the topics I find interesting. The community of Chancellor’s Scholars is filled with people who are passionate and dedicated to improving communities through their respective studies. Learning about what others in this community are interested in and working towards has allowed me to reflect on my interests and figure out how I can use what I am studying to create a positive impact on the community around me.

Charlie Taylor

My name is Charlie Taylor and I’m a junior majoring in History of Art & Architecture and Classics, with a minor in French. My research interests surround the role of gender in early and medieval Christianity, with an emphasis on visual culture. Last semester, I received an Archival Scholars Research Award to explore the role of gender in three illuminated—or richly illustrated—manuscripts in Pitt’s library system. After graduation, I’d love to pursue my PhD in Art History, Medieval Studies, or Digital Humanities.

Outside of school, I’m on the editorial board for The Pitt News. I started my first year as a writer, and last year I moved to Culture Editor. This year, I’m the Engagement Editor, meaning I handle social media, as well as events that help us connect with our audience. I’m also part of an improv group, Ruckus, and Pitt Ballet Club. Beyond Pitt, I volunteer for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, working to take and catalogue 3-D scans of items in their Egyptology collection.

Being a Chancellor’s Scholar has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people, and I’m very aware of what an incredible opportunity I’ve been given. I’m not sure I would have the confidence to pursue my goals were I not a Chancellor’s Scholar; the scholarship has put me in touch with faculty and other students who encourage me, challenge me, and inspire me to be my best self.

Class of 2024

Margaret Balich

Hi! My name is Margaret Balich; my pronouns are she/her; and I’m a sophomore here at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Nonfiction Writing. I’m currently taking some architecture classes to decide if I want to major in that, too! Outside of academia, I’m the Music Director at WPTS-FM and the Art Editor of Collision Magazine. I love practicing French (j’aime pratiquer le français), writing, playing my guitar, collaging, and exercising in my free time.

I am so proud and thankful to be a Chancellor’s Scholar. Because the program covers my tuition and housing costs, I’m able to focus full-time on my classes and my passions, like being a director at Pitt’s radio station. I don’t need to work to pay back loans, so I can simultaneously take 18 credits, complete 10 radio office hours per week, meet weekly with Collision, and maintain a fulfilling social life. I love this university and the people I’ve met so far—everyone, especially those at the Honors College, has been welcoming and helpful since the beginning of my freshman year. Without the support of this scholarship, my family, my friends, and the Honors College, my college experience would have been much more stressful during the pandemic. Knowing that I had a network of support motivated me to continuously succeed past my own expectations last year.

Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity to thrive at the University of Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to finally meet the Chancellor’s community in person this year!

John Finnell

Hi, my name is John Finnell, and I am part of the class of 2024.

Before coming to Pitt, I lived in Wallingford, PA, and attended the same small school from pre-k through twelfth grade. During my time in high school, I did not leave many sports unplayed, clubs untried, or classes untaken. I spent a lot of time trying as many things as possible to answer the seemingly impossible question—what do I want to do with my life?

After much deliberation, I decided to pursue an education in business at Pitt. More specifically, a double major in Finance and Marketing with a certificate in Business Analytics. Outside of the classroom, I am part of the American Marketing Association and the Socially Responsible Investment Portfolio.

In addition to being accepted into Pitt’s Honors College, I also had the incredible opportunity to apply for and receive one of the Chancellor’s Scholarships. Being a Chancellor’s Scholar means that I have amazing connections in the Honors College for research and academic exploration, a network of motivated students, and support. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and encourage prospective students to put their best foot forward and take advantage of every opportunity.

Joy Gimei

Hi, I’m Joy and I am from a suburb outside of Columbus, OH. I am currently a sophomore intending to major in Information Science and minor in Spanish. In school I enjoy the subjects of math and science, but outside of school I love to engage in the community, explore new places with my friends, play my ukulele, sing, and experiment with fashion. I felt that the technology world was the best fit for me because it prompts me to use my logical and analytical skills while also engaging my creativity, and I felt Information Science was the best major for me because it allows me to learn how I can use my communication skills when interacting with the systems and people of a company. The ultimate goal is to graduate with a consulting job that allows me to travel, and then land a job as an IT Program Manager for a big fashion, social media, or music streaming company.

Being a Chancellor’s Scholar is one of the greatest honors I’ve had thus far in my life; it has been an indication to me that Pitt Honors not only believes in my academic potential, but my capability of impacting both the Pitt community and the world at large. The investment the University of Pittsburgh has made in me has further motivated me to take advantage of everything Pitt has to offer and engage in my community. Currently, I am the Social Media Manager of OASIS, Interning for the Creative Director of Wazobia, a Photographer for Humans of Pitt, and a Member of Delta Delta Delta. I hope that this is only the beginning and can’t wait to see what this year will bring!

Hattie Lindey

Hello! My name is Hattie and I’m a sophomore Politics and Philosophy major at the University of Pittsburgh. I was born and raised in Perryopolis, Pennsylvania, a small rural town about an hour south of campus.

Going into my first year at Pitt, I felt directionless. I knew that I loved politics and felt passionate about building programs that sought to improve the lives of others, but I couldn’t recognize how I would turn these interests into tangible projects within the Pitt community. One way the Honors College and being a Chancellor’s Scholar at the university has greatly impacted my educational experience is by giving me the resources and support to explore and engage in a variety of projects on campus. During my first semester, I took a seminar with the other Chancellor’s Scholars where we were tasked with creating a project centered around the theme of “activism.” Through this assignment, I began working on a research topic investigating biased algorithms in healthcare with a few other students in my Chancellor’s Scholars cohort. Nearly a year later, we’re just getting started on a research study investigating the role mobile health clinics and federally qualified health centers in the Pittsburgh community play in increasing access to health services within the city. Not only did the project start in the Chancellor’s Scholar seminar, but we were also given funding from the University Honors College Equity and Social Justice Research Fund to further our research, as well as countless hours of support from the Scholar Mentors and other UHC staff members in developing the study.

For me, being a Chancellor’s Scholar at Pitt has meant having the ability to explore different areas of interest and having the support in developing meaningful and impactful projects centered around those passions. I could never have anticipated that I’d be so passionate and involved in a project centered around health research in the Pittsburgh community. Luckily, my time as a first year Chancellor’s Scholar has given me the ability to work with other incredible students with similar interests on a project that I love contributing towards.

Outside of researching mobile health clinics, I’m also a member of Pitt’s mock trial team and a brother in Phi Alpha Delta, Pitt’s pre-law fraternity. This past summer, I started working as a Global Ties Mentor where I get to mentor incoming international students and plan events centered on forging connections between domestic and international students on campus. Lastly, I’m working on a project with a fellow Honors College student that aims to create a community-driven policy hub for younger advocates to access knowledge as power and prepare them to participate in policy decisions that affect their lives. Through the UHC’s Racism Pandemic Project Fund and the ongoing support of the Honors College faculty, we’ve been able to continue to work to develop an important resource for students on Pitt’s campus. Being a Chancellor’s Scholar has truly shaped the way I approach research and community engagement projects on campus. Without the support and expertise of the Honors College staff, my experience as a Pitt student would be completely different.

Alexandra Lopez

My name is Alexandra and I am a sophomore at Pitt. I’m majoring in environmental engineering and am also pursuing a Certificate in Sustainability. I’m from Austin, Texas, so choosing to apply and go to a school in western Pennsylvania was a big decision. I give credit to Dr. Murrell, the Chancellor Scholar-Mentors, and the welcoming people of the Honors College who made the seemingly impossible notion my reality. The people I met at the scholarship interviews, and got to know better throughout the next year, allowed me to arrive on the Pitt campus excited about the opportunities I would be able to pursue. I met enthusiastic and kind students and faculty who inspired (and continue to amaze) me by their intellectual and extracurricular ambitions. I had support pursing my own academic endeavors such as joining the Society of Women Engineers, and then continuing on to become a co-chair for outreach events. To me, being a Chancellor’s Scholar means joining a community filled with endless support and new opportunities. I will be forever thankful to those who helped me find my new home 1200 miles away.

Victoria Malomo

Hi! My name is Victoria Malomo and I am currently a sophomore studying in The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. I intend to major in mathematics and am interested in elementary education. I am also pursuing a certificate in American Sign Language as I hope to eliminate a communication barrier when interacting with the many different people I encounter every day. Moreover, I am fascinated by the intricate, highly complex, and diverse nature of the deaf community in Pittsburgh and my hometown. I grew up in Rochester, NY and, besides the brutal winters, it will always be one of my favorite cities.

So far, I have enjoyed exploring Pittsburgh in its entirety. I am especially intrigued by the seemingly endless presence of tasteful cuisine at every street corner. In my free time, I love exploring all facets of art. I enjoy singing, writing songs, and listening to all kinds of music. But my favorite pastime activity by far is discovering new music through old and new vinyl alike. In high school, I found my love of engaging in community service and serving others. Community outreach has molded me into the student, friend, and citizen that I am today. I have learned so much from meeting people of diverse backgrounds through listening to the life experiences that shaped them. I am so eager to start serving the greater Pittsburgh area particularly in the surrounding school districts.

Being awarded the very generous Chancellor’s Scholarship has been one of the biggest blessings in life. I have been able to meet so many passionate students equally as excited to leave a mark on the people and places we come in contact with. To be a Chancellor’s Scholar means to be at the forefront of the intersection of scholarship, research, and innovation. I can already foresee this scholarship opening doors to not only engage in research with remarkable faculty members and my classmates, but to also push myself out of my comfort zone in exploring subject matters I wouldn’t have considered before. I will forever be grateful to the University of Pittsburgh and the Honors College for granting me with this life changing opportunity.

Jakob Segal

Jake Shapira

Hello! My name is Jake Shapira, and I am sophomore biology and economics double major pursuing a minor in chemistry and a global health certificate while on a premed track. I personally really enjoy the contrast between economics, which makes me think about the world on an international scale, compared to biology, which is on a cellular level. Starting last spring, I have been conducting research within the Department of Immunology. It has been a great experience and allowed me to discover my passion for investigating novel scientific inquires. So, although I intend on going to medical school, I hope to incorporate my diverse interests, including research, into my daily career. I am also the president of a service organization called “Be the Match On Campus”, where we hold drives to increase the diversity and number of people in the bone marrow registry to ultimately help decrease health disparities.

To me, being a Chancellor’s Scholar is all about combining and exploring varying interests and then using that acquired knowledge to make a difference outside the classroom. For example, as part of the Chancellor’s Scholar Orientation class, I was able to meet an amazing group of peers, all of whom have different majors, but whom I now have the pleasure to be collaborating with on our independent public health research project. In the end, I am very grateful to be part of the Pitt Honors community and to be surrounded by so many intellectually curious individuals who all support one another.

Class of 2025

Lauren Beck

My name is Lauren Beck, and I’m from Frederick, Maryland. Although I am from Maryland, I consider myself to be an Army Brat. I was born in Kansas, but I spent my formative years between Hawaii and Maryland. I am also the oldest of three girls and a lifelong member of Girl Scouts. I am extremely interested in STEM topics, and I discovered my passion for science when my class learned about geology in the fifth grade.

The summer before my senior year, I was introduced to the Pitt community by a Pitt alum, who also happened to be one of my mentors. After he told me about the endless opportunities that Pitt offers their students, especially those within the Swanson School of Engineering, I knew that I wanted to attend Pitt. When applying to Pitt, I was completely unaware that the Honors College offered the Chancellor’s Scholarship. But then I received the news that I was selected as a Chancellor’s Scholar by the Honors College in late March, and that news produced one of the most rewarding feelings that I had ever felt.

While at Pitt, I plan to major in mechanical engineering with the hopes of working on projects that advance science and better the environment. I think that topics like physics, materials science, geology, and environmental science are interesting. I plan to explore those interests while at Pitt. To further explore and develop my interests while at Pitt, I want to partake in research, internships, or both! I am also so grateful that I have access to the Honors College which allows me to take classes that combine my interests in STEM and the humanities.  I am excited by the Classical Era in human history! I am looking forward to making interdisciplinary connections between so many topics and fields while in Pittsburgh.

When choosing between Pitt and some of my other options, I knew early on that Pitt would be the place that I would call home for the next four years. Although this scholarship helped solidify my decision, it was the impressive and passionate faculty, staff, and students making up the Pitt community that helped me realize that I was at home. H2P!!

Aaliyah Beckles

I was born on January 5, 2003, in Reston, Virginia. At the age of 2, I moved to Prince George’s County, Maryland where I received my primary and secondary education.

I attended Oxon Hill High School where I was a part of the Science and Technology program. Over the course of my academic journey at Oxon Hill, I participated in many activities and held numerous leadership roles. I was involved in activities such as Future Business Leaders of America, Science National Honor Society, Chamber Orchestra, Saxophone Choir, and the Marching Band. I was the Music Librarian, Orchestra Vice President, and Orchestra President for the Oxon Hill High School Instrumental Music Department and the Treasurer for the Science National Honor Society. Notably, I graduated from Oxon Hill High School as the Valedictorian of the Class of 2021.

Since I was young, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. My aspirations are to become a pediatric oncologist and a music composer. To expose myself to medicine, I participated in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Oncology Center of Excellence Summer Scholar Program and the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases’s Short-Term Research Experience for Under-Represented Persons (STEP-UP). At the FDA, I co-authored a drug approval summary. For STEP-UP, I studied guidelines for kidney transplant candidates with prostate cancer.

In the past, I started a technology class for senior citizens. At Pitt, I plan on immersing myself in many opportunities that can allow me to continue helping others and further prepare me for my future career. I hope to conduct research on immunotherapy for cancer, compose music for an orchestra, study abroad and bridge the inequality gap in healthcare during my time at Pitt.

Livia Daggett

Hi, everyone! My name is Livia Daggett, and I am from Storrs, Connecticut. I graduated from E.O. Smith High School this past spring, where I stayed busy with activities I was passionate about. I was the V1 coxswain on my school’s crew team, placing third in the state freshman year; a soprano in our Chamber Choir; a participant in Model UN; and the president of the German Language Honor Society. I also participated in a peer support group called Peer Natural Helpers, as well as acting as a moderator, researcher, and organizer for a group called Dialogue and Discourse which aimed to bring the many sending towns of our school together in meaningful, civil, discussions about controversial issues. Outside of school, I worked at a college bookstore and babysat.

Last spring, I was appointed a member of my town council’s Human Rights Commission, which has been one of the most influential experiences I’ve had. Our commission was charged with reviewing the most pressing human rights issues in our town and area, including affordable housing, racial justice, interactions with the local university, Indigenous rights issues, and other concerns of the greater Eastern Connecticut region. Through my role here, I’ve heard varying points of view and experiences from community members, worked on community outreach and event planning, helped prepare recommendations to the Town Council on actions to be taken, and come face to face with the rewarding but often frustrating slow churn of local government (and all government, at that!). As a prospective Politics & Philosophy major at Pitt interested in studying constitutional law and pursuing law school in the future, this experience helped solidify my interest in government, rights, liberties, reform, and community action. In my free time, I enjoy knitting, sewing, hiking, cooking, reading, and taking care of plants, both indoors and in the garden. It was this last interest, strengthened by the isolation of the pandemic, that rekindled my childhood love of nature and botany. Consequently, I’m also considering a second major in Ecology and Evolution. I can see myself getting involved in research in either the natural sciences or in political science—or both, we’ll see! 

Besides the vast academic offerings at Pitt, I am so excited to get involved in other organizations. I’m considering joining Pitt News, interested in Pathfinders (a wonderful tour guide and her enthusiastic recount of her Pitt experience made me even more sure I wanted to commit), and thinking about joining the club rowing team as well. I recently learned about the Honors College’s Undergraduate Review and plan to get involved in my first few semesters. I’ve also heard wonderful things about debate, Model UN, and mock trial—I want to give everything a try, especially activities new to me, and see what I love most!

The Chancellor’s Scholarship has been a game changer for me, and I am honored and grateful to have this opportunity. I can’t wait to meet my classmates and to attend my first classes. My advice for prospective students is to ask lots of questions, visit campus if you can, and apply early!

Connor Diaz

Hello! My name is Connor Diaz, and I’m from Richmond, Virginia. I graduated from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies this past June and will be attending Pitt this Fall. I plan to major in history then continue my studies pursuant to a career in education.

I fell in love with education and everything that comes along with it pretty quickly during my time in high school. I was fortunate enough to have amazing teachers who were able not only to reignite my interest in learning but also to pique my interest in teaching. Such interest was fleshed out and explored more thoroughly during my time as a math tutor in addition to the several months I spent volunteering to teach online math, history, and social studies courses online during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Though initially interested in learning primarily about and eventually teaching European history, I now have my sights set on teaching early American history. Here in Virginia, state history overlaps with early American history to such a degree that it often felt like we were learning the same thing over and over and over again in regard to American history in elementary/middle-school. I was fortunate enough, though, to compete as part of (and win the National Champion Title for) Maggie Walker’s We, The People Team during my senior year, and my experience as part of such team completely changed my outlook on American, but especially Constitutional, history.

As such, I find myself at the precipice of divergent career paths; I’m torn between going into public-school teaching and pursuing a career as a professor. I know I would both enjoy and be rewarded by both choices, so I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see what the future has in store for me.

Beyond history and education, the thing about which I am most passionate is technical theater. I was (in good fun) peer pressured into joining my high school’s theater tech team during my sophomore year, and have been in love with it since. I took over as lead technical director these last two years, and I’m beyond excited to get back into a real, physical, theater as I immerse myself in the theater world at Pitt.

Aaryn Mathias

Hi! My name’s Aaryn Mathias, and I’m from a town called Aurora next to Denver. I was born and raised in Colorado with my younger brother, Mehir. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pets currently, but I used to have a lot of hermit crabs when I was little (fun fact). In my free time I love to read, hang out with friends, listen to music, or scroll endlessly through Tiktok. 

I’m planning on majoring in neuroscience and hope to minor in chemistry and political science on the pre-med track with the eventual goal of going to med school and becoming a physician. In high school I was involved in my school’s Key Club, Medical Careers Club, and Book Club, so I want to find something similar to those at Pitt with the different volunteering and special interest clubs.

Owen May

I was born in Tampa, Florida, and grew up in Wilmette, Illinois with my older brother Nelson and my dog Mina. After attending kindergarten in central Mexico, I moved back to the United States to find myself unchallenged in Spanish classes for the next several years, and having a strong footing in my language education to this day. I always took an interest in science classes at a young age, absorbing basic facts of the world like a sponge, although my interest dwindled somewhat when numbers and lab reports got involved. I thrived in reading and writing classes, and managed to remain a teachers’ favorite despite having obviously never completed the assigned reading. My passion for writing emerged further in high school under the mentorship of my English teacher during Freshman and Sophomore year, who showed me the power of fewer and more precise words to convey a point. I hope to continue my academic curiosity in the years to come, and hope to be challenged in my endeavors moving forward.

I have always taken an interest in media and technology, beginning with an obsession with video games and computers at a young age. I would often begin coding classes in school or as extracurriculars, only to find myself uninterested in the material being taught and captivated by exploring the possibilities of what I could do with the program. In middle school, I got involved in musical theatre through the local park district, but after a couple of shows I found myself more interested in the technology behind the scenes than the show on stage. Right at the beginning of high school, I got involved in stage crew and technical theatre, where I discovered a passion for sound design and audio engineering. After mixing audio for a couple of shows, I decided that I wanted to explore audio in the world of film. While recording and mixing sound for independent films, I began integrating my background in music to dive deep into the world of audio design. I remain passionate about the production and science of media and the role it plays in the world, and hope to explore even further at Pitt.

Semira McFarlane

Hello! My name is Semira McFarlane. To let you know a little bit about me, I am from Waldorf, Maryland (about an hour outside of DC), I am a Marketing major, and I love watching exceptionally long videos on YouTube. These videos range from documentaries about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scotts to essays explaining different SpongeBob conspiracy theories. I would say that my long attention span has served me well, not just in exploring YouTube content, but also in my academic endeavors.

I have always had a lot of self-motivation when it comes to school, along with high expectations from my parents. Throughout my high school career, I worked hard to balance a rigorous academic schedule, community service and student organizations, and spending time with my friends and attending social events at school. Even during the pandemic, I was able to take six AP classes (and survive), volunteer at my local homeless resources center (shout out to Lifestyles of Maryland) and stay connected with all my friends. I have prepared myself a lot for the journey to college, and I am excited to take advantage of all the new opportunities and connections I will have along the way.

When coming to Pitt, my biggest academic goal is taking classes that will expand my knowledge and that will help me improve my life and the lives of others around me. As someone who wants to go into the Marketing field, I am excited to take classes that both challenge me creatively and analytically. Learning about how the human mind works, what captures our attention, what visuals and sounds and messages evoke certain emotions. These are all concepts that drew me to this field. In the future I want to use my skills in marketing to promote products, media, and messages that reflect values of self-love, diversity, empathy, and understanding.

Lillian Nelson

My name is Lillian Nelson, and I am an incoming Chancellor’s Scholar for the University of Pittsburgh’s class of 2025. During my time at this university, I hope to pursue a major in Biological Sciences on the pre-veterinarian track while also exploring academic interests in animal and ecology related subjects and research.

Throughout high school, I participated in a variety of extracurricular activities. I co-led my school’s Scholastic Scrimmage club as well as their Art and Literary Club. While competing within my school’s scholastic scrimmage team and compiling art pieces and literary works into a cohesive magazine, I learned to grow a love for working with others, getting to foster my peers’ talents, and learning more about various new subjects such as poetry. I hope to continue this passion for working alongside a vast student body and exploring interdisciplinary subjects within both my academic and extracurricular involvement at Pitt. In addition to Scholastic Scrimmage and the Art and Literary Club, I was also involved in two local choirs and my school’s orchestra as a viola player prior to college. Being a member of these groups allowed me to explore music in a new light and realize the irreplaceable role music has in my life. I want to take advantage of Pitt’s numerous music related groups to continue this love, especially within a choral group or organization.

Beyond my academic-based extracurricular activities, I enjoyed taking advantage of volunteer-based opportunities. Whether it was participating in a charity related club or doing events with my friends, I found value and a sense of excitement forgetting to participate in these events and getting to see the results of our efforts. I think it is important for every student to further get involved and to give back to their community, and I would like to play my role in helping to create a better environment for every person and animal here in Pittsburgh.

Nij Patel

Hey everyone, my name is Nij Patel and I am an incoming freshman at Pitt in the Chancellor’s Scholars program! I am from West Chester, PA (near Philadelphia), so while I am a fan of all things Philly (Eagles, Sixers, Phillies all the way!), I am also super excited to explore everything Pittsburgh has to offer in the fall. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music (I’m a pretty big hip hop fan), playing tennis, and creating YouTube videos!

At Pitt, I plan to pursue a dual degree in Computer Science and Business Information Systems, and maybe a minor in a film related art! While academics will certainly play an important factor in my time at Pitt, I also want to focus on development outside of the classroom. I hope to continue many of the extracurriculars and passions I pursued in high school. For example, I found a passion for education and charity from a young age, having worked in my mother’s educational business of tutoring young children for the past 6 years. I also extended this to volunteering as a technology instructor at my local Veteran’s Affairs, teaching older veterans the capabilities of some newer tech. Additionally, I helped lead the UNICEF chapter at my school, raising thousands of dollars for global childhood education through various fundraisers. I also have been heavily involved with research lately, having done some basic level research at Boeing and worked on my own independent project (creating an algorithm to quantify the positive environmental impact of maintaining a plant-based diet).

These experiences helped me become a more effective leader in various clubs at my high school, along with strengthening various academic skills. Whether it be through pursuing similar service groups and research ventures or completely new ones, I know I will meet my extracurricular goals and much more at Pitt! I have already started to dabble in a couple of extremely interesting and welcoming clubs, like the Computer Science Club, and am excited to explore even more. But above all, I hope to develop as a person and become the most complete version of myself!

Claire Rossi

Hello all! My name is Claire Rossi and I am from Ashburn, Virginia, about 45 minutes outside of DC. I am enrolled in the Swanson School of Engineering and looking to enter either Mechanical or Civil Engineering once I am able to declare at the end of this year. I am going for the Honors Degree, or at least going down that path, though I will consider the BPhil route once I get to that point, as research is one of my passions and something I want to pursue in college and hopefully in life beyond.

Within research in general and in life, I am very passionate about sustainability and environmental activism, which I was able to incorporate into my high school career through some research and advocacy programs, and plan to continue studying in college and pursue as my career. Though I am not sure exactly what “job” I want, I would love anything to do with sustainable infrastructure or renewable energy production. Particularly, optimizing the way we collect energy renewably and finding ways we can incorporate greener and more eco-friendly habits into our lives. Also shoutout tiny house living, I can’t wait to build my own self-sustaining tiny house one day!

Some other random stuff about me, I love volleyball and have played both club and school volleyball (and can’t wait to hit the intramural courts), I love fitness in general, especially hiking, weight lifting, paddleboarding and anything outdoors really. I also love watersports and anything to do with lakes, oceans, rivers, etc, and can’t wait to explore the local Pittsburgh water/river activities! I love traveling and going out but also love sitting down with a good book or movie (my favorite book genre is fantasy/fiction, and my favorite movie is Princess Bride). I absolutely love volunteering and was fortunate enough to be able to do some mission work in Pittsburgh for a few summers, so I can’t wait to discover all the new ways to volunteer on and around campus. Overall, I am super excited about the upcoming school year and becoming a Panther, and can’t wait to meet everyone!

Dominique Thomas

Hello everyone! My name is Dominique (she/her) and I’m very excited to be joining the Pitt community. I am from Milton, Massachusetts, a suburban town just outside of Boston.

After attending my school district’s French Immersion program for 11 years, my curiosity of how young minds are able to learn languages so quickly has always been a question I wanted answers to. This is what inspired me to pursue a Neuroscience major here at Pitt, as well as a minor in Linguistics. I am looking forward to diving into the mind’s many complexities.

Outside of the classroom, my passions lie in community service; whether it has been assisting in disaster relief efforts as I did following 2 major hurricanes tragically devastating my parents’ homeland in the Commonwealth of Dominica—or the two organizations I was affiliated with in high school—Science Club for Girls and Project 351—I broadened my knowledge of service and leadership.

At Science Club, I led groups of 6-year-old students through various science experiments. They were able to ignite their curiosity about the world, and I served as a mentor who reassured them that anyone has the power to like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Having gone through this program as a student myself, I can’t stress enough how important community outreach programs like this are to encourage young women—especially from underrepresented groups—to venture into STEM fields. As a Black woman at Pitt, I hope to continue to do the work to make this happen with the help of the Chancellor’s Scholarship.

My time at Project 351 began in 8th grade, when one student from every city and town in Massachusetts was called to be an Ambassador to their community. I was humbled and honored to be the student nominated for the year-long Ambassadorship. This included leading a town-wide Spring Service drive, collecting clothing for Cradles to Crayons, a non-profit organization in Boston. My Ambassador year is one that I will never forget, but the years in high school that I spent on the Alumni Leadership Council were equally rewarding.  During that time I served in the mentorship role to the new incoming Ambassadors. Overall, I would say that my participation as a teacher, mentor and student have made me into the person I am today.

One of my major goals this semester is to really soak in every aspect of the first-year experience. This includes everything from learning about the many resources that Pitt provides for students to succeed, to experiencing the richness and diversity of the city and all it has to offer. I’m especially looking forward to discovering Pittsburgh’s music scene; as Vice President of my school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society Chapter I was heavily involved in the music department. The transition to college life is a journey I intend to embrace wholeheartedly, and I look forward to growing and evolving in my new home. H2P!