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ABF Welcomes Recipients of the 2016 Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship

June 8, 2016, Press releases

From left to right: Francesca Hidalgo-Wohlleben, Daniella Zessoules, Bara Ahmad, and Kavya Rallabhandi

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) has selected four exemplary undergraduate students as the 2016 recipients of the Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship (SRDF) in Law and Social Science. The 2016 fellows were chosen from a highly competitive group of over 200 applicants and exemplify excellence in their undergraduate career. The 2016 fellows are Bara Ahmad, Francesca Hidalgo-Wohlleben, Kavya Rallabhandi, and Daniella Zessoules.

The ABF offers a rich environment to students from diverse backgrounds who are considering careers in legal research or the practice of law. Each fellow works closely with a specially designated ABF Research Professor on the design and implementation of a research project, affording them the rare opportunity to do socio-legal research with experienced scholars. While the students work primarily as research assistants, they also attend a series of seminars conducted by ABF Faculty, program alumni, and practitioners in the legal system in Chicago who acquaint the students with their research and work.

While many SRDF alumni go on to academic careers in the social sciences and law, many others have chosen to pursue careers as legal practitioners, or to work in government, social policy, or business.

The fellowship has produced many notable alumni, including Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, a 1992 SRDF alumnus who is now a Justice of the California Supreme Court. Cuéllar was also named a potential for the recent U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

”We are delighted to welcome this year’s talented group of Montgomery Fellows,” said ABF Director Ajay Mehrotra. “Over the past three decades the Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship program has hosted over 100 promising and diverse students, many of whom have built distinguished careers in the legal profession and the academy, making a real and lasting difference in the diversity pipeline. We are looking forward to an enriching summer with our 2016 Fellows.”

About the 2016 Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellows

Bara Ahmad, of Chicago, Illinois, is a rising senior at Georgia State University (GSU) majoring in political science with a concentration in pre-law. She has a strong interest in international and business law and has interned for Global Atlanta. Ahmad regularly volunteers for the Refugee Learning Center where she uses her knowledge of Arabic language to tutor Syrian refugees. She has also served as the secretary of the Muslim Student Association and treasurer of the Arab Cultural Association at GSU. Ahmad will work with ABF Research Professor John Hagan during her summer fellowship.

Francesca Hidalgo-Wohlleben, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a rising senior at Claremont McKenna College majoring in philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). She is primarily interested in social inequality, mass incarceration, and criminal justice. In past summers, she has worked for a property development group in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and for the Jane Boyd Community House in Cedar Rapids. During the academic year, she works as a research assistant at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, where she is involved in several projects relating to policy and prison reform. Hidalgo-Wohlleben will work with ABF Director Emeritus and MacCrate Research Chair in the Legal Profession Robert L. Nelson during her summer fellowship.

Kavya Rallabhandi, of Palmerston North, New Zealand, is a rising senior at American University (AU) majoring in economics and minoring in international relations. She has a strong interest in international law, economic development, and access to education for students in underprivileged communities. Rallabhandi has interned for Abt Associates, where she worked on global health and economic development projects. As a Community Based Research Scholar at AU, she designed a comparative analysis of public and charter schools in Washington, D.C., and the results were presented to the United Planning Organization. Rallabhandi will work with ABF Research Professor Victoria Woeste and ABF Director Ajay Mehrotra during her summer fellowship.

Daniella Zessoules, of Beverly, Massachusetts, is a rising senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in economics and political science with a particular interest in American politics, economic policy, and gender, race, and health care inequality. She participates in the Five College International Relations Program, which focuses on international economic systems and foreign policy. Zessoules has worked with Professor Dean E. Robinson, assisting with research on comparative health care and race politics. In 2014, she worked on Deborah B. Goldberg’s successful campaign for Massachusetts State Treasurer. Zessoules will work with ABF Research Professor Elizabeth Mertz during her summer fellowship.

Read more about the 2016 Fellows.

The Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship in Law and Social Science is supported by generous grants from the National Science Foundation, Kenneth F. & Harle G. Montgomery Foundation, Law School Admission Council, and AT&T.

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