Oslo Scholars Program

enabling tomorrow's human rights leaders, today

The 2011 Scholars

Garrett Friedman

Garrett Friedman is a second year student at Tufts University studying Biochemistry. The descendant of two holocaust survivors, Garrett has devoted himself to the fields of human rights and socioeconomic development, combining it with his love for medicine. He is an active leader of the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership program BUILD, a collaborative rural development organization working with ex-combatants and resettled refugees in Guatemala, as well as rural communities in Tamil Nadu, India. Garrett has worked for four years in biochemistry, having conducted bronchoalveolar stem cell projects with Harvard and olfactory progenitor cell research at Tufts Medical School and currently working at the Immune Diesase Institute’s Goldfeld Lab. As an Oslo Scholar, Garrett spent summer in Toronto, Canada, conducting research under the guidance of Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, one of this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum speakers.

Languages: English, Spanish

Patricia Letayf

Patricia Letayf is a 2011 graduate of Tufts University with a degree in international relations and economics.  Although she is originally from Salem, New Hampshire, most of her family resides in Lebanon and Syria.  Patricia is deeply interested in issues relating to the Middle East, and at Tufts she co-led a student think-tank called the New Initiative for Middle East Peace (NIMEP), a group dedicated to dialogue and research on salient topics in the region.  Her travels with this group have taken her to Israel, the West Bank, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Iraqi Kurdistan, where she researched topics including the impediments to an Israeli-Lebanese peace, Gulf military cooperation and Kurdish claims to the Kirkuk province.  At Tufts Patricia also coordinated a competitive after-school reading program in two elementary schools and tutored math. Patricia spent the summer of 2011 in Toronto at Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s foundation Daughters for Life.   

 Languages: English, Arabic, French

Vasundhara Jolly

Vasundhara Jolly is a junior at Tufts University from New Delhi, India, majoring in international relations with a special focus on the Middle East and South Asia. She is also a Synaptic Scholar with the Institute for Global Leadership. Synaptic Scholars is a leadership program meant to provide a forum for students to take risks, pursue passions, and challenge assumptions in an intimate, supportive and collaborative environment. It is designed to cultivate a strong sense of accountability and responsibility, while encouraging scholars to enrich the University’s intellectual life and programming. With a demonstrated interest in human rights issues, conflict resolution, and peace-building operations, Vasundhara’s work as an Oslo Scholar took her to Srinagar, Kashmir over the winter to work with BBC journalist and author Justine Hardy at Healing Kashmir, a mental health and suicide helpline center in Srinagar. 

Languages: English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, French

Michael Niconchuk (Program Co-Coordinator)

Michael is a 2011 graduate of Tufts University with a BA in international relations, and since 2008, Michael served as the Director of the BUILD Program of the Institute for Global Leadership. BUILD, which operates active rural development projects in India and Guatemala, has received more than $80,000 in international and campus grant money for its innovative work across various sectors including sanitation, youth business development, ecotourism, and agricultural productivity. In addition to BUILD, Michael has spent much of his college career conducting now-published research on issues of drug violence, human rights, and the politics of development aid in Latin America. 

Languages: English, Spanish, Arabic

Alisha Sett (Program Co-Coordinator) 

Alisha is a senior student from Tufts University pursuing a B.A. in Political Science and English. From Mumbai, India, she has been involved with the Institute of Global Leadership in many different capacities. She leads their Poverty and Power Research Initiative that conducts research on corrupt regimes, particularly oligarchies. She was a member of the year long EPIIC colloquium on South Asia: Conflict, Culture and Complexity. She volunteers with Association for India’s Development’s (AID) Boston Chapter, a nonprofit that supports grassroots organizations and movements serving the most marginalized communities in India. Through AID, she has been deeply involved with Jan Swasthya Sahyog (People’s Rural Health Program), India’s premier rural health organization. She has worked there with  founder of Physicians for Human Rights, Dr. Jonathan Fine. Recently she has worked with Tufts University Program on Narrative and Documentary Practice, pursuing photojournalism stories in South Dakota, and soon Burma. She is a passionate salsa dancer. She was a Oslo Scholar in 2010, serving as a translator for  Pakistani women’s rights activist Mukhtar Mai, served as a 2011 Oslo Scholars Program Co-coordinator, a role she is continuing this year.

Languages: English, Hindi, Urdu

Nithyaa Venkataramani

Nithyaa Venkataramani is a junior at Tufts University majoring in International Relations with a focus on Global Health. She is the co-coordinator of the India project of the BUILD Program for Sustainable Development. The India project, started in 2009, works in partnership with local organization Payir and the village of Thottiapatti in Tamil Nadu, India to catalyze change in infrastructure, public health, and economic opportunity. She also worked as a part of the pilot team of Saathi, which aims to bring a small-scale manufacturing capacity to women throughout rural parts of India to produce sanitary pads from local waste banana fiber. She intends to eventually earn a degree in both public health and medicine after graduation, with a specific focus on social inequalities and unrepresented populations around the world. 

Languages: English, Tamil, Spanish, Portuguese

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