Seven Heller Students Awarded Prestigious Fellowship Programs

May 22, 2024

This spring, seven Heller students were selected for competitive, funded fellowship programs, including the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Eli J. & Phyllis N. Segal Citizen Leadership Program, and the Harvard Kennedy School Rappaport Fellowship. These programs will help students accomplish a variety of academic, professional, and career goals.

“The Heller Career Development Center is very excited about our student winners of these competitive and prestigious national fellowships,” says Jasmine Waddell, PhD, Assistant Dean of Heller’s Career Development Center. “Heller students have traditionally viewed fellowships as opportunities to hone key career skills and to have an impact on pivotal issues such as policy, health, education, international development, language and culture, equity, and environment.”

Learn more about each program and the seven Heller fellows below.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Shannon Horgan, MA SID/COEX'24
Shannon Horgan, MA SID/COEX'24

Shannon Horgan, Heller MA SID/COEX’24, was one of ten Brandeis students awarded a scholarship by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Created by Congress in 1946 to foster understanding between the U.S. and other countries, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns, the distinguished program offers opportunities for graduate study, research, and teaching in more than 140 countries outside the United States.

Through her Fulbright research grant to the Dominican Republic, Shannon plans to explore the complex relationship between short-term volunteer trips and the impacts on the community members themselves. Her previous experience in the D.R., both as a long-term volunteer and as a leader of short-term volunteer projects, has given her insight into both sides of the subject. Shannon is a former Peace Corps volunteer and currently works as a Bilingual Community Outreach Counselor at North Shore Community College. After Fulbright, she hopes to work for USAID in Latin America and build upon her research and experience in small communities to explore larger projects with greater impact.

Eli J. & Phyllis N. Segal Citizen Leadership Program

Ela Petit Frere, MPP'25
Ela Petit Frere, MPP'25

The Segal Program honors and extends the work of the late Eli Segal ’64, his wife Phyllis, and their commitment to developing new generations of leaders. Through the program, fellows engage in a lifetime of citizen service and leadership training. Fellows include Heller MPP program students, Brandeis University undergraduates, as well as alumni from national service organizations such as AmeriCorps and CityYear.

One of ten fellows accepted into this year’s cohort, Ela Petit Frere, MPP’25, is concentrating on Children, Youth, and Families at Heller, where she focuses on community development and creating better determinants of health for immigrant families. She is eager to identify and develop policies tailored to building advantageous social benefits for local communities in need around Boston. This summer, Ela is excited to have an impact on family policy and to learn more about researching, evaluating, and analyzing policy regarding childcare, the foster care system, maternal leave, social welfare benefits for families, and other related issue areas.

Harvard Kennedy School Rappaport Public Policy Fellowship

The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School has selected five Heller students for its 2024 fellowship cohort. The Rappaport Public Policy Summer Fellowship, now in its twenty-fourth year, offers students opportunities to immerse themselves in government and public sector agencies in Massachusetts during this paid 10-week internship program. Fellows gain real-world experience while learning about how public policy is created and implemented and engaging with a remarkable network of experts.

During their fellowships, Heller students Karen Alfaro, Anika Kumar, Shaakira Parker, Calah McQuarters, and Amanda Yu will participate in excursions to key sites and weekly seminars featuring discussions with leading scholars and practitioners from across the region.

Karen Alfaro, PhD student
PhD student Karen Alfaro

Karen Alfaro, a Heller PhD student, has been placed in the Boston Office of Recovery Services, where, under the supervision of Christian Arthur, Senior Policy and Strategy Specialist, she will participate in the implementation of the Boston Opioid Settlements project. Karen will assist the project director in launching the family fund, selecting projects to award grants, providing technical assistance, collecting feedback from the public, and producing reporting.

Anika Kumar, PhD student
PhD student Anika Kumar

Anika Kumar, a Heller PhD student, has been placed in the Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement under the supervision of Executive Director Monique Tu Nguyen. Anika will assist in the Office’s launch of a comprehensive community needs assessment that will guide strategic planning for initiatives aimed at better supporting and integrating the city’s immigrant population. This assessment, grounded in community-based participatory action research principles, seeks to produce findings that authentically reflect the community’s self-articulated needs to inform the development of equitable, culturally-responsive policies and programs.

Shaakira Parker, PhD student
PhD student Shaakira Parker

Shaakira Parker, a Heller PhD student, will be working at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care under the supervision of Aimee Smith-Zeoli, Special Education Support Specialist. Shaakira’s primary project will be focused on developing a guide/toolkit, inclusive of resources, outreach, and dissemination, for educators and programs to accompany and operationalize EEC’s updated Suspension and Expulsion Policy.

Calah McQuarters, MBA/MPP'25
Calah McQuarters, MBA/MPP'25

Calah McQuarters, MBA/MPP’25, who is focused on economic development policy, has been placed at the Boston Planning and Development Agency. Under the supervision of Kristiana Lachuisa, Deputy Director of Community Engagement, Calah will work on a focus group series with BPDA employees and residents aimed at understanding the current communication/engagement gap between the BPDA and community. She will also assist in developing a set of high-level visual materials to inform the community about BPDA work and updates.

Amanda Yu, MBA'25
Amanda Yu, MBA'25

Amanda Yu, MBA’25, has been placed in the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance, where she will be under the supervision of Danielle Cerny, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Dana Sullivan, Chief of Strategy and Operations. Amanda will support the inter-agency Early Education and Child Care Task Force, established by Executive Order 625. At the Governor’s direction, this task force will bring to bear the full scope of the executive branch to ensure that Massachusetts leads the nation in early education and care access, affordability, equity, and quality. Amanda’s internship will involve staffing monthly task force meetings as well as supporting the ongoing work of three subgroups: access and technology improvement, capacity and affordability, and physical space.