Penn’s Perry World House Announces Inaugural Undergraduate Fellows

Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania has named 25 undergraduates as the inaugural cohort of World House Student Fellows. 

The group of sophomores, juniors and seniors will participate each week in seminars, research projects, leadership opportunities and activities focused on pressing global issues. 

The program seeks to bridge the gap between the academic and policy worlds, while assisting the students in thinking about their career paths. 

“The inaugural cohort of World House Student Fellows is diverse in a way that reflects both Penn and the world,” said Michael C. Horowitz, PWH associate director who manages the undergraduate fellowship program. 

“It contains a broad mix of students from different academic disciplines, including undergraduates from the School of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Nursing and Wharton,” Horowitz, who is also an associate professor of political science in Penn Arts & Sciences, said. “The undergraduate Fellows also come from countries around the world, reflecting Penn’s global vision and scope.” 

Du’aa Moharram, one of the new Fellows, is a sophomore nursing major who was raised in East Windsor, N.J. She has always considered herself a global citizen and said interdisciplinary learning is important among all professions, especially health care. 

“Everyone needs healing; everyone needs help and how we, as health professionals, can be most useful is dependent on everything else that is going on in the world,” she said. “Life is all tangled up together and whatever we work on is going to be affected by something else. We can all become better nurses or diplomats by being aware of and learning from each other.” 

Moharram said the fellowship will provide her with a deeper understanding of critical global issues, especially during such a pivotal time in United States history. 

“This election has certainly proved that the U.S. is at a turning point, in many ways, and it is important for us as young people to be educated and informed of the issues of our time,” she said.

As a part of the fellowship, the students will have an opportunity to hone their research and critical-thinking skills through hands-on collaboration with Perry World House’s faculty and visiting scholars as mentors. 

The faculty and distinguished visitors will also facilitate seminars designed to teach the necessary skills to translate research into policy-relevant output, guiding students to explore and analyze urgent global concerns. 

Another inaugural World House Student Fellow, Sarah Baer, a junior international relations major from Ridgefield, Conn., is excited about attending the seminars. 

“The pressure of assignments and grades often clouds the fact that sitting in a college lecture is a privilege. The seminars will give me the chance to really remember that,” Baer said. “I get to listen to experts talk about something incredibly interesting each week.” 

At the start of the semester, the student Fellows will be assigned to small groups to examine a policy-relevant research question linked to Perry World House’s themes and priorities. They will have the additional guidance from World House Distinguished Fellows, post docs and Penn faculty members. 

The students will learn to generate products aimed at influencing government, international or non-governmental organization policy communities in the U.S. and around the world. 

Their fellowships will culminate with the students producing briefings and reports related to their group projects. 

Fellow Aminata Sy, a junior international relations major from Philadelphia who transferred in fall 2015 from the Community College of Philadelphia to Penn’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies, says she is most excited about the year-long research project, which will allow her to dig deeply into a specific issue, while developing her teamwork and leadership skills.

“I love that we will present our research project to policymakers and other leaders in international affairs,” Sy said. “This means that our research could lead to real change in the lives of many people.” 

In addition, the fellows get to travel to Washington, D.C., and New York City to meet with policymakers, alumni and academics. 

The other members of the first class of Perry World House Student Fellows are:

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