Current Leadership Development Fellows

2022-2023 Fellows

Nikolay (Nick) IvanovNikolay (Nick) Ivanov is a PhD candidate, research assistant, and class instructor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University. My research interest is centered on network and information security. Particularly, I specialize in distributed systems security, blockchain, smart contracts, digital equity, and applied cryptography. My research ambition is to use decentralized distributed systems to fight corruption, discrimination, and inequity. After graduation, I aspire to continue my research as a university research faculty.

Sanfeng MiaoSanfeng Miao is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Learning (HALE) program. Sanfeng is originally from China. She moved to the United States in 2017 to pursue her master’s studies at Boston College and found her passion in higher education and student affairs. Her research looks at international graduate student experience and socialization, and women in academia around the world. Among many aspirations Sanfeng has as a leadership fellow, Sanfeng is especially excited to work with her peers to better international graduate students’ experiences at MSU. For fun, Sanfeng enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and kayaking. She is also a travel enthusiast, cat lover, seasoned runner, and coffeeholic.

Qi HuangQi Huang is a third-year doctoral student at the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) with a concentration in Diversity, Youth, and Family Development at Michigan State University. Qi is originally from China. Her personal experiences of being an international student in the United States helped her to develop research interests in the cultural adaption experiences of Asian/Asian American minority population, particularly Chinese international students’ mental health well-being. She is specifically interested in how their family background, cultural adjustment, gender identity, and socioeconomic status impact their psychological outcomes. Qi has worked with international students in crises at the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) which led her to her current research interests in the Chinese international student population. The main goal of her research is to better understand Asian/Asian Americans’ migration experiences, explore the stressors affecting their mental health, and hopefully provide practical implications on better supporting this ethnic minority group. Qi has served as a representative of international students in the Sexual Violence Advisory Committee at MSU in 2018-2019. She also volunteers as an interpreter at Chinese American Service League (CASL) which is the largest social service non-profit agency in the Midwest serving Asian Americans. Qi hopes to draw attention to international graduate students’ mental health issues and promote improving the access of campus resources for this group. Qi is also looking forward to advancing her leadership skills through the graduate leadership development fellowship.

Helena StechHelena Stech is an international PhD student in German Studies. She did her Bachelor’s degree in Education Science and Cultural Studies at Humboldt University of Berlin. Helena taught German as a foreign language to adult learners at language schools and companies in Berlin. She also is a certified Yoga teacher and taught all levels in Germany. At MSU, Helena’s work is focusing on language pedagogy, foreign language teaching and learning, and the connection between culture and language. In her free time, Helena enjoys dancing, singing, swimming, and exploring the outdoors with her bike.

Jesenia RosalesJesenia Rosales (she/her/hers/ella) is a doctoral student in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong education Education program at Michigan State University (MSU). She is also a Chicano/Latino Studies certificate student at MSU. Jesenia received her B.A. in Psychology & Hispanic Studies and minors in Studio Art & Latin American Studies from Wheaton College. She earned a M.Ed. in Postsecondary Administration & Student Affairs at the University of Southern California. Jesenia began her professional experience in education as a secondary education teacher and later transitioned to a career in student affairs, specifically in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Jesenia’s research interests focus on the professoriate, organizational equity, critical whiteness studies, colorism, and computer science spaces. As a Leadership Fellow, Jesenia is excited to explore opportunities to foster advocacy and unity across ethnic graduate student organizations.

Sheila M. OrrSheila M. Orr (she/her) is a Doctoral Candidate in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education Program in the Michigan State University College of Education and a former high school mathematics teacher. Her work examines the preparation of mathematics teachers to use justice-oriented pedagogies to challenge the white hegemony in mathematics education. As a Leadership Development Fellow, Sheila hopes to extend her work in supporting her colleagues in the Department of Teacher Education in striving towards a more equitable and just for all students.

Malique JonesMalique Jones (She/Her/Hers) is a doctoral candidate in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department. Her research focuses on dissecting how inflammation alters urinary bladder smooth muscle contractility to identify new druggable targets for bladder dysfunction. In addition to her passion for science, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, dancing off beat to various music, crafting, and spoken word poetry. As a leadership fellow, she seeks to collaborate with the Student and Health Wellness Services to implement a program that empowers and supports students while going through the strenuous process of graduate school.

Daniel MartinDaniel Martin is a Music Theory Master's student at MSU. He plays piano, clarinet, and can also be found singing in choir. At MSU, he assists in teaching undergraduate theory and aural skills courses. Daniel performs solo piano repertoire as well as experience playing for local churches in the Lansing area. His research interests in music theory include: rhythm & meter, sonata form, multi-parameter music analysis, and the music of Mozart. Daniel is an active tutor in the math and science areas as well. For this fellowship, Daniel strives to ease some of the burdens that first-generation college students face walking into graduate student life. After MSU, Daniel will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Theory, and will continue to work to make these changes while teaching at the college level.

Vanessa J. AguilarVanessa J. Aguilar is a dual degree Ph.D. candidate in Chicano/Latino Studies and English. In addition, she holds a certification in Caribbean and Latin American Studies. Vanessa earned a B.A in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an M.A in English from Emporia State University. Her primary research centers on Chicanx/Latinx women’s representations in literature. Her interests oscillate between archival research, speculative fiction, and contemporary young adult literature.

Sharmila SamarooSharmila Samaroo is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science. Her technical interests are in electrochemistry and its applications in grid scale energy storage – specifically redox flow batteries. She earned her B.S. from the University of Michigan in chemical engineering. After graduation she worked for Phillips 66 initially in Research and Development investigating energy storage technologies, then as a process engineer at an oil and gas refinery. During her first two years at MSU, she was the president of the ChEMS Graduate Student Association. Sharmila enjoys soccer, running, and painting in her free time. She is looking forward to joining this community of leadership fellows and learning diverse and effective leadership strategies.

Daniel PuentesDaniel Puentes is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where he researches at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. His research involves measuring the mass of radioactive nuclei with high precision and how it can tell us why protons and neutrons are arranged inside a nucleus providing clues to its shape. This research also helps scientists understand how the elements were created in different stellar environments! Outside of the laboratory, he also co-hosts “The Sci-Files” on WDBM with Chelsie Boodoo, and he helped start MSU SciComm, a science communication club on campus. Daniel has also served as a regional hub leader with the National Science Policy Network and participated in the City of East Lansing’s Emerging Leaders program. It is his passion to serve as an agent of change to his local community as a leader.

Abhinav KapoorAbhinav Kapoor is a doctoral candidate at the School of Planning Design and Construction, with a concentration in Urban and Regional Planning, and has a doctoral fellowship at the Environmental Science and Policy Program at MSU. His research explores how urbanization affects the socio-economic conditions in the peri-urban areas of South and Southeast Asia. By making use of spatial and quantitative socioeconomic data, his research takes a critical look at the present trends of urbanization and explores how we can move towards a more sustainable urban policy with the interests of all stakeholders in mind—especially the more vulnerable groups living within and around the expanding cities. Before coming to MSU, Abhinav had been part of several research projects which study the changing agrarian livelihoods in India. His research focused on collecting and analyzing village-level socio-economic data to understand the contemporary rural economy. On days when academic work seems overwhelming, Abhinav likes to drift into cooking elaborate meals for himself. Apart from that, he also likes to go on long runs and taking care of his plants at home.

Hima RawalHima Rawal is a doctoral candidate in the Second Language Studies Program, Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures (LiLaC). She earned her MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Michigan State University (under a Fulbright Fellowship) and M.Ed. in English Education from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. She has served as a graduate student representative in the College of Arts and Letters’ College Graduate Committee, College Curriculum Committee, and College Advisory Council. She has volunteered in teaching English to immigrant youth and adults at Lansing Public library, Capital Area Literacy Coalition, and the Refugee Development Center’s GLOBE program. In her undergraduate teaching at MSU, she cultivates a culture of care to enhance her students’ success and overall well-being. She was the inaugural recipient of the Susan M. Gass award for teaching conferred by MSU in 2020. Her research investigates pedagogical practices in linguistically and culturally diverse mainstream classroom settings (K-12 and college classes). As a leadership development fellow, she intends to explore intercultural and linguistic aspects that play a role in international students’ seeking and accessing mental health resources on campus. She also serves on the steering committee of MSU's Trauma Services and Training Network.

Garam LeeGaram Lee is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program. Before coming to MSU, Garam used to be a full-time social psych researcher developing psychological interventions and implementing them across the country to help student motivation. Using her background, she is currently developing educational tools to help students explore their purpose in life and reframe purpose as a motivator and a source of well-being. As a Leadership Development Fellow, she hopes to disseminate her tools through the right channel to benefit a wide range of graduate students at MSU.

SeyoungSeyoung Hong is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) program at Michigan State University. She is an international student from Korea. Her area of interest centers on educational equity, racial justice, and diverse learners. Specifically, she is interested in the experience of international students of color focused on thier racialized experience and racial learning. As a leadership fellow, she hopes to work toward empowering international students and encouraging them to be actively involved in discourses on racial justice.