FLI Student Advisory Board
2019-2020 Board Members
Born in Queens to Bangladeshi parents, Kania Rimu is a senior from New York City studying neuroscience & behavior with a cellular concentration and an interest in public health. She is an Athena Scholar and has been working in the Silver Neurobiology laboratory to study the circadian rhythm. She volunteers with Student Health Outreach Program (SHOUT), ASPCA, and St. Luke's Hospital. Kania is currently working on a public health project with fellow FGLI Advisory Board member Magdalen Kwarteng at the Mailman School of Public Health. During her spare time, she likes to binge on several Netflix shows, talk to new people, and explore the city.
As a first-generation/low-income student, she understands the difficulties of navigating a college campus and often felt alone. She is excited to join the FGLI Advisory Board because it gives FLI students the ability to voice their ideas toward creating a stronger FGLI community. Ultimately, through this opportunity, Kania would love to improve accessibility for textbooks, mental health assistance, and much more for all.
Magdalen Kwarteng is a senior at studying neuroscience. She was born in Verona, Italy, to Ghanaian parents but moved to America when she was young. Magdalen is an office assistant at ResLife (come say hello if you have a chance!) and currently works in the Don Hood lab, researching the advancement of diagnostic tools for glaucoma and other retinal diseases. She also volunteers in the emergency department at CUMC and is currently working with fellow FLIP Advisory Board member Kania Rimu on a public health project with professors at the Mailman School of Public Health. In her free time, Magdalen enjoys playing the piano, watching shows on Netflix, and finding new baking recipes.
Magdalen joined the Advisory Board because she wants to help FLI students who are not from New York and thus don’t have access to the state-funded programs available to New York State residents. She also wants to help make Barnard a place that’s comfortable to everyone and give every Barnard student the tools and resources to thrive and be successful here.
Tamima Sultana is a sophomore at Barnard College. She decided to join the FGLI Advisory Board because she shares the same experiences as those who are still navigating their way through their first semesters of college and believes it is important to empower young women to pave their own paths and motivate those around us to do the same.
As a member of the FLI Advisory Board, Tamima will strive to promote unity, provide support, and encourage first-generation and/or low-income students through various events and opportunities that enable us to grow and flourish within the Barnard community.
Vanessa Alvarez is a first-generation American, first-generation college student, and a sophomore at Barnard College (though she hails from Davie, Florida). When she isn’t dressing her cat in winter sweaters, she’s either reading the latest feminist manifesto or studying comparative literature and philosophy.
She is an associate editor for the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism, as well as an activist both on and off campus, organizing within groups such as Student-Worker-Solidarity and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Vanessa aspires to supplement her labor in activism with translating texts between Kichwa, Spanish, and English.
She believes establishing a FLI Advisory Board is important in fostering a stronger sense of community among first-gen and low-income students on campus, and she believes that students have to be each other’s biggest, most unapologetic advocates.
Rutendo is a first-year from Harare, Zimbabwe who has lived in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. She is interested in majoring in mathematics or electrical engineering with a minor in African studies. Rutendo is a Bezos Scholar and received funding from the Bezos Family Foundation to host the South African Ideas Festival, a 3 day leadership program for disadvantaged African children. Under the Bezos Scholars Programme, she attended the Aspen Ideas Festival where she interacted with many changemakers such as David Miliband and Angela Duckworth. Rutendo was also part of the African Leadership Academy 2019 team and managed to secure 300 students from the African continent to attend the festival whilst working as the editor of the ALAMAU Times. She is an avid believer in the future of the African continent and believes that empowering the youth is one of the most instrumental ways of ensuring Africa’s future success. Rutendo is also an advanced Bridge and Marimba player representing her region, Mashonaland, in the 2015 and 2016 championships. She is planning to pursue a Data Science degree after graduation with the hope of using Mathematics to help her home country Zimbabwe.
Seyla Phan is a sophomore at Barnard College who proudly identifies as a first generation, low income Cambodian American. She plans to major in Computer Science and minor in Race and Ethnic studies. In her free time, she enjoys watching The Sinner and Black Mirror on Netflix, going to museums with her friends, and crafting new playlists on Spotify.