Current Leadership Development Fellows

2020-2021 Fellows

Kanza KhanKanza Khan is a JD candidate in her third year at Michigan State University College of Law. She is part of the inaugural cohort of the Michigan Leadership Initiative which provides leadership training to those law students who have shown dedication to academic excellence, community service, and leadership roles before coming to the law school. Furthermore, because of her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, she is a Task Force member for DEI at the law school. Prior to coming to law school, she was involved with a social media startup focused on providing a platform for women of color to share their narratives in order to make a social impact. Kanza has been a Spartan since 2010 when she entered the James Madison College where she majored in International Relations and specialized in Muslim Studies. In the future, she hopes to combine her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion with her interests in foreign policy, law, and technology to provide concrete solutions aimed at protecting vulnerable communities in this ever-changing world. In her downtime, you might spot her at a slam poetry event, cooking with opera music playing on blast, and or planning a trip to anywhere that has a beautiful view of a sunset on the beach.

Hunter KopczynskiHunter Kopczynski is a conductor and music educator currently based in Lansing, Michigan where he is completing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Wind Conducting at Michigan State University. At MSU, he is active in all aspects of the band and wind conducting program in the College of Music. Immediately prior to starting the doctorate, he completed the Master of Music degree in Wind Conducting at MSU. Hunter graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Arts in Education. 

In his research and teaching, Hunter is especially interested in the intersection of experience and curriculum to create healthy ensemble culture. As a Leadership Fellow for the MSU Graduate School, he works to better understand learning environments and diverse approaches to pedagogy. His current research interest is teaching conducting in a way that supports an open philosophy of music education and raising the level of performance through celebrating student experience. In all of this work, his primary goal is creating a learning culture where students are supported and enabled to perform at the highest possible levels with an authenticity in bringing themselves to the music. 

Previous to graduate study, Hunter taught in the public schools of Virginia. He is an active adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor. His professional affiliations include the College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education, Virginia Music Education Association, and the Michigan Music Education Association.

Jaleah RutledgeJaleah Rutledge is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Ecological-Community Psychology program. Her program of research focuses on racial health disparities, health equity, and health promotion among marginalized populations. More specifically, she is interested in understanding and ameliorating the burden of sexual and reproductive health disparities among Black women. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tuskegee University in 2018 where she was heavily involved as a campus leader. Throughout her graduate school matriculation, Jaleah has maintained her commitment to campus involvement as the graduate student member of the College of Social Science Dean’s Advisory Board on Diversity and Inclusion in addition to being an active member in AGEP and MSU’s Black Graduate Student Association. As a leadership fellow, she hopes to help graduate students develop the professional, personal, and leadership skills needed to become academic entrepreneurs.

Lindsay PutnamLindsay Putman is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Earth and Environmental Sciences and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics departments where she assesses how groundwater and geochemical dynamics affect microbial community assembly, composition, and function over time and in response to perturbations within a serpentinization-influenced aquifer. Lindsay also has a great interest in teaching and has had the opportunity to teach undergraduate students and obtain a Certification in College Teaching offered here at MSU. In addition to research and teaching activities, Lindsay serves as a Graduate Leadership Fellow for the College of Natural Science. Her fellow activities focus on improving the advertising and availability of career services and information on alternative careers for graduate students within the College.

Briana GreenBriana Green is a second year PhD student in the Educational Psychology Educational Technology program. Briana's research focuses on Black student's achievement motivation and providing culturally sustaining STEM learning experiences in and out of school. She enjoys creative writing and is taking up digital content creation to promote a healthy life and grad school balance.

Sharieka S. BotexSharieka S. Botex is a second year PhD student in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures Department. She is the Graduate Writing Coordinator for the Writing Center at Michigan State University, where she also works as a graduate writing consultant. Prior to attending Michigan State University, she attended East Carolina University where she graduated with an MA in English and a concentration in rhetoric and writing. She graduated with a BS degree in Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. Before her pursuits of a graduate school education, Sharieka worked as a reporter and earned awards for some of her reporting. 

Sharieka loves learning, reading, writing and engaging with people to teach and learn from and with them. Some of her interests include doing work that equips people with skills, resources and knowledge to use their writing and communication skills to help shape, guide and advance their communities, institutions, careers, and lives. Some of her other interests include literacy practices, influence, Black experiences, histories and legacies, writing centers, FYW, pedagogical approaches, social movements, social justice, Hip Hop, stories, cultures and communities. She aspires to help people access resources and opportunities that can be used to help them create, shape, enhance and define their lives, communities and institutions.

Chelsie BoodooChelsie Boodoo is a Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. She studies what happens to the extracellular matrix of cells after they have been stressed. She has a passion for science communication (scicomm) and started MSU SciComm with other graduate students to create a welcoming space for everyone to practice scicomm however they want. She is the current President of MSU SciComm. She co-hosts the award-winning show, "The Sci-Files," with Daniel Puentes on impact 89FM to explore the different topics that MSU students research. She is also a 2020 Jackson Wild Media Fellow and a student digital producer for the MSU Science Festival.

Alex WhiteAlex White (she/her/hers) is a Masters student in the Department of Forestry. Her research interests are urban forestry and environmental justice. Alex completed a B.S. in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University in 2013. Following graduation, she worked as an environmental educator for organizations including Americorps, Haw River Assembly, and the Western Carolina Nature Center. During her time at Michigan State, Alex has served as the Co Instructor for the Forestry Department’s Multicultural Apprenticeship Program and is a member of the department’s Diversity Committee. She is a member of the Bill Anderson Fund Fellowship, an interdisciplinary organization created to expand advanced studies in the field of Disaster & Hazard Research and Mitigation within minority communities. After graduation, Alex hopes to build a career in environmental program management with a focus on expanding environmental learning and career opportunities for people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Clara GraucobClara Graucob is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Environmental Science and Policy Program. Her research interests centre around social-ecological resilience as well as enabling factors and constraints to successful climate change adaptation in natural resource-dependent communities. She is the Connection Coordinator for the MSU Chapter of the Women in Nature Network. She is one of two Leadership Fellows in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Being an international student herself, she is passionate about helping other international students transition into graduate student life at MSU. In her role as a Leadership Fellow she therefore aims at improving that transition by making available and condensing resources and information especially for but not limited to international students.

Kionna HendersonKionna Henderson is a 2nd-year doctoral student in the Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences Department at Michigan State University. She has a background in Public Health from Tulane University with a focus in epidemiology. Her current research is centered around health disparities within a geographical aspect. In addition to being a Leadership Fellow, Kionna is the 2020-2021 Council of Graduate Students representative for her department and a member of the Advancing Geography Through Diversity cohort. In her spare time, Kionna leads a scholarship foundation, the Andrika Memorial Scholarship Foundation, at her alma mater in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. This scholarship was created in honor of her late sister who passed of cancer. It is designed to provide financial assistance for continuing education to one graduating senior. Kionna hopes to change people lives, one step at a time through service. For fun, Kionna likes to paint, travel, do adventurous activities like ziplining, and wine tasting! Her favorite part of the day is watching the sunset.

Acacia AcklesAcacia Ackles (she/they) is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in Integrative Biology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. For their Ph.D. work, they study the evolutionary theory of genomes and develop models and methods to better understand the evolution of genomic complexity. They are also passionate about justice and equity in the academic classroom, and particularly with issues of accessibility in academic spaces. Through their fellowship, they hope to address equity and accessibility issues for graduate school admissions in the College of Natural Sciences. Prior to study at MSU, Acacia graduated from the George Washington University with dual degrees in Biology and Applied Mathematics.

Madison C. AllenMadison C. Allen is a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program in the College of Education, Counseling Educational Psychology and Special Education department. Her research investigated the intersections of technology, culture, and learning. Her current projects include centering the epistemologies, cultural artifacts, and practices of African descendant peoples in the development and exploration of educational technologies and the implementation of those technologies. As a leadership fellow, Madison works with her peers to acknowledge, center, and uplift the voices, experiences, and actions of Black women in the CEPSE department at MSU through active engagement in dialogue and working groups as well as effecting policy change. 

Tracy MelvinTracy Melvin is a PhD candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife working with Dr. Gary Roloff in the Applied Forest and Wildlife Ecology Laboratory. Her research focuses on biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene specific to climate adaptation. After obtaining her degree, Tracy would like to teach at the collegiate level, focusing research on global conservation challenges and promoting a laboratory that emphasizes educational opportunities for students in developing countries, and work for global non-profits focused on integrating social-ecological systems. Tracy has co-created and co-taught the award winning and highly popular study abroad program “A Fragile Fiji: Integrating Ecology and Human Dimensions in the Face of Climate Change”, is a fellow for the United States Geological Survey, and a student trustee for The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Chapter. Tracy is excited to be serving as Coordinating Fellow for the Graduate School’s Leadership Institute after serving as a leadership development fellow in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources for 3 years. Her goals in this role include providing development opportunities that dismantle the notion of positional leadership for the year-long graduate fellows; increasing intentional connections between Leadership Summit, Academy, and Fellows programming; and building foundational structures in the Institute that increase transparency, graduate student voice, and creative scaffolding.

Ronald AsiimweRonald Asiimwe is a third-year doctoral student in the department of Human Development and Family Studies, specializing in Couple and Family Therapy. Ronald is originally from Uganda, Africa, and his program of research examines parenting practices, child mental health outcomes, various evidence-based family and parenting interventions, and ways to culturally adapt these EBPs to families in Africa. After spending 3 years providing therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families in Shawnee, Oklahoma and in the Lansing area, Ronald sought to rejuvenate his passion for leadership by serving in various capacities around MSU. First, he served as a student representative on the international graduate student committee, then was a cohort member for the 2020 MSU leadership academy, and was later selected to serve on President Stanley’s search committee for the Vice President Chief Diversity Officer (VP/CDO). Currently, Ronald is a leadership fellow with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s (AAMFT) leadership program. Additionally, he is very excited to be coordinating programs for the MSU Graduate School’s Leadership Institute. Ronald likes to describe himself as a social and round-table leader who values the team, hearing from everyone on the team, making decisions and implementing objectives with the team. He believes that the most efficient way to lead is to become fully self-aware and “in-tune” with self, so he is very invested in helping other leaders around him the best versions of themselves. Outside of his academic and leadership work, Ronald likes to host friends and cook various Uganda recipes for them, playing tennis, running half-marathons, and watching soccer and college basketball.