Skip to main content

2017 Fellows

From left to right: Zoe Walker, Larkin Smith, Sushmitha Ram, and Marcus Lane Jr.

Marcus Lane Jr., a native of Hartford, CT, is a rising junior at Syracuse University, where he is pursuing a B.A. in policy studies with concentrations in government and business, and society and the legal system. He is interested in economic and environmental justice, mass criminalization, and more broadly, human welfare and rights. During his first year at Syracuse, Marcus co-founded the Youth Council for the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS), an interfaith advocacy organization, to cultivate our next generation’s social justice leaders. In the summer, he worked as a site manager for an entrepreneurial farm stand and grew fresh, organic produce to combat food deserts in Syracuse. During his second year, Marcus was a teaching assistant for the introductory course to public policy and analysis. He held positions as an Assembly Member for Syracuse University’s undergraduate student government and as a member of the New RSO Review Board, approving student organizations in their registration process. Marcus completed his occupation as a Research Consultant for Home HeadQuarters this spring, where he collected and analyzed data from respondents located in central New York about their homeownership experience and recommended modifications to Home HeadQuarters’ Homebuyer Education course. As a Policy/Organizing intern at the Central New York chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), Marcus has performed research on school funding inequity, housing segregation, and use of force policy, as well as organized events and lobbied towards civil liberties issues. He also enjoys writing for The New Narrative, a multimedia news site dedicated to redefining stories about people of color. Marcus hopes to pursue a J.D. and possibly a master's degree in urban planning. Marcus is honored to be working alongside Research Professor and ABF Director Emeritus, Robert Nelson, this summer. 

Sushmitha Ram

Sushmitha (Sushi) Ram, a native of Spring, Texas, is a rising senior at Smith College majoring in history and economics with the Community Engagement and Social Change (CESC) concentration focused on immigration and domestic violence. She had participated in the Smith College Debate Society for the past three years as novice secretary, novice educator, and varsity debater, receiving the 2015 and 2016 Most Distinguished in Debate and 2017 Most Excellence in Debate Slater Awards. Actively debating in the American Parliamentary Debate Association (ADPA), she was a committee representative and co-chair of the Diversity Initiative to discuss the racial, gender, and class barriers among university and high school level debaters. During summer 2015, she interned for District Court Judge Staci Williams on the Citizens Civil Academy, a three-week community outreach program to enhance civic awareness on the Dallas County Courthouse. She also presented her research among 50 students at the Smith in the World Conference. In her first two years at Smith, she was selected as a STRIDE scholar to research with Professors Lauren Duncan and Kate Queeney on the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the STEM field magazines. Her second year, she took leadership as the sophomore student representative in Smith College’s Honor Board and the Diversity Officer’s Student Advisory Board, as well as embarked on community leadership in the Phoebe Lewis Leadership Program. Based on her intersectional activism, she became a Bridge Leader for the pre-orientation program for students of color 2015-2016. She performed in her Virginia Woolf Intermediate Repertory dance class based on Woolf’s To the Lighthouse in spring 2016. She continued to do research as a Kahn Institute Fellow in the Shaping Perception project on South Asian transcontinental arranged marriages through oral histories in her junior year. Throughout the year, she loves meeting and walking with new people as a Gold Key Tour Guide as well as reflecting in narratives through the Empowered Voices for Students with Disabilities. She enjoys dancing, walking, meditating, and deep listening. Future plans for Sushmitha include interning with activist Zoe Flowers’ sexual healing activism for women of color this summer and later, pursuing for a law or a degree in historical activism. Sushmitha looks forward to working with ABF Director and Research Professor, Ajay K. Mehrotra

Larkin Smith

Larkin Smith is a rising Junior at the University of Chicago, where she is pursuing an interdisciplinary program in Fundamentals: Issues and Texts and Human Rights. Academically, she is fascinated by environmental ethics, political philosophy, and social movement history and theory. Last summer, she had the opportunity to write articles for the Borgen Project, a non-profit focused on politically advancing poverty-reducing legislation. In this position, she lobbied local congressional leaders, maintained a fundraising campaign, and was given the chance to write short bill summaries for the Borgen Project website. With the Borgen Magazine, she researched contemporary issues in global health, global education, and emerging global markets. At the University of Chicago, Larkin is very active on campus; she serves as the president of her a cappella group, performs with University Theater, is a member of Pi Beta Phi, and leads a queer discussion group through the Center for Identity + Inclusion. Growing up in Vail, Colorado, she also has a penchant for adventure, and enjoys skiing, scuba diving, and travel. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D., likely jointly with a J.D., in either environmental ethics or environmental politics. Larkin is beyond excited to work with ABF Research Professor, Victoria Saker Woeste, this summer.

Zoe Walker

Zoe Walker, a native of Indianapolis, is a rising junior at the University of Notre Dame, double-majoring in political science and English. She has always had an interest in reading and writing and is excited to apply those skills in her research endeavors. At Notre Dame, Zoe has participated for two years on the Mock Trial team and is also secretary of the pre-law society. In her free time, she has enjoyed serving the student government on the judicial council as well as volunteering in South Bend at St. Adalbert’s school and the Indiana Legal Services Clinic. Her volunteer work at the legal aid clinic led her to draft a research paper on the interactions between minority families and the legal system. For her work in this area she was named a Notre Dame Doan scholar. She is also a Notre Dame Dean’s List scholar. Zoe has a passion for writing and enjoys working at the University Writing Center where she discusses writing with other students to enhance writing skills. Next spring, she will spend a semester abroad in London. Zoe plans to attend law school upon graduation from Notre Dame and continue pursuing work that combines advocacy with research. She looks forward to working with ABF Research Professor, Traci Burch, this summer. 

Site design by Webitects

© 2020 American Bar Foundation (
750 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611-4403
(312) 988-6500
Contact Us
Media Contacts
Privacy policy
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in ABF publications are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Bar Foundation or the American Bar Association. The AMERICAN BAR FOUNDATION, ABF and related seal trademarks as used by the American Bar Foundation are owned by the American Bar Association and used under license.