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2012 Fellows

 From From left to right: Nikita Koraddi, Merritt Steele, Debbie Oh, and Larissa Davis

Larissa Davis
is a rising senior at Amherst College, double majoring in History and Asian Languages and Civilizations. Larissa came to Amherst from Summerville, South Carolina, however, she spent her elementary through high school years on military bases in Asia. During the past year Larissa studied abroad at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. As the recipient of the Associated Kyoto Program Board of Directors Research Grant, Larissa conducted independent research on diversity in Japan’s education systems. At Amherst College Larissa is a Civic Engagement Scholar, a highly competitive honor designed for students with a dedication to public service and academic excellence. She also serves as a Resident Counselor, Alumni Liaison for the Black Students Union, Peer Advocate for Sexual Respect, and women’s rugby football player. Both abroad and at Amherst Larissa volunteers as a college application advisor (Holyoke, MA) and English language tutor (Kyoto, Japan). Larissa has a passion for social justice, law, and public policy. Her strongest social justice interest lives in education policy, specifically educational policies related to diversity and civil rights in schools. She intends to write a senior honors thesis on integration in Jackson, Mississippi public schools. Larissa has interned with the Mississippi Teacher Corps and as a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Congressional Intern in the office of Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (6th-SC). Larissa also has experience conducting education policy research with the Springfield Institute in Springfield, MA. After graduation Larissa intends to pursue a JD/Ph.D. in law and social policy. Larissa is grateful to the American Bar Foundation for the fellowship and is excited to work with ABF Director and Research Professor Robert Nelson during the summer.

Nikita Koraddi, who was born in India and moved to San Diego at the age of twelve, is a rising senior at the University of California, Berkeley. She is majoring in Political Science (with a specialization in International Relations), and minoring in Global Poverty and Practice and Ethnic Studies. She serves as a clinical intern at the East Bay Community Law Center where she advocates on behalf of disadvantaged populations on issues of health, housing, and public benefits. She is Vice-President of Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society, holds a part-time job at Berkeley Law, and has been involved in student government throughout her undergraduate career. She is conducting research alongside a professor and scholar of African politics on issues of foreign investment, land grabs, and displacement of local populations in the Global South, and will complete her honors thesis in a related field next year. She also serves on the Vice Chancellor’s Student Advisory Committee through which she provides direct advice and feedback to the Student Affairs division on the campus administration, and helps influence decisions and policy concerning student services at the university. She recently served on the Election Committee for the 2011 Innovation Grants for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, is a 3-time recipient of the Leadership Award Scholars Association’s annual award, and is a recipient of the Global Poverty and Practice Fellowship - which allows students to connect the theory and practice of poverty and its alleviation. Over the past three years, she has completed internships at the Office of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the Family Justice Center. Nikita plans to pursue a career in law, research, and public policy, and is especially interested in understanding the role of legislation, legal institutions, and collective societal responsibility in the perpetuation of inequality and disparities in educational achievement, health, income, employment, and accessibility. She looks forward to working with Research Professor John Hagan this summer.

Deborah Oh, a native of Chicago, Illinois, is a rising senior at the University of Southern California (USC). She is majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Law and Social Reform. Her ultimate goal is to practice public interest law. As a nationally ranked policy debater she obtained a full scholarship from USC's Trojan Debate Squad. She researches, analyzes and debates diverse subject matter spanning from immigration reform to nuclear weapons policy. Debbie additionally worked as an opinions columnist for USC's student-run newspaper, the Daily Trojan. She has completed political internships at the United States House of Representatives and the White House. Debbie received grants from her university, the state of Illinois and the South Korean Embassy to fund these endeavors. These experiences further reinforced her commitment to public service not only through the legal profession but also potentially through politics. Finally, Debbie is a member of several academic honors associations including Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha and the Blackstonians, USC's honors pre-law society. She currently serves on Pi Sigma Alpha's Executive Board as Vice President. Debbie is ecstatic about joining the American Bar Foundation and learning from Research Professor Jothie Rajah this summer.

Merritt Steele is a rising junior at Cornell University. She is majoring in Government and American Studies with a minor in Law and Society. Her studies focus on the constitutional development of minority and criminal rights. She is ranked in the top twenty percent of her class and a Dean’s Scholar. Outside of class, Merritt debates on the Cornell Parliamentary Debate team. She is currently serving as the vice president of Cornell’s Network of Enlightened Women, an organization that promotes intellectual diversity on campus by educating the community about gender and politics. In addition, Merritt enjoys volunteering with her service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega.  As apart of the Alpha Phi Omega service team, she has collaborated with Mira’s Movement, the Global Book Drive, and the Nate Rand Foundation to sponsor fundraising events across campus. Next fall, she will begin volunteering with Art beyond Cornell, a new organization that travels to prisons to work on art projects with prisoners for rehabilitation.  Merritt is excited for the chance to work closely the other ABF fellows. She looks forward to beginning her research with Professor Rebecca Sandefur.


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