Scholars of Distinction Community


Scholars End of the Semester Party Fall 2018



 Professor Paige West

Paige West is The Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her broad scholarly interest is the relationship between societies and their environments. Since the mid 1990s she has worked with indigenous people in Papua New Guinea. She is the author of three books and the editor of five more. Dr. West has written about environmental conservation and international development, the aesthetics and poetics of human social relations with nature, and the creation of commodities and practices of consumption. She is currently writing about climate change.

Dr. West is the founder of the journal Environment and Society, the chair of the Ecology and Culture University Seminar at Columbia University, a fellow (and past chair) of the Association of Social Anthropology in Oceania, and is the past president of the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association.

In addition to her academic work, Dr. West is the co-founder, and a board member, of the PNG Institute of Biological Research, a small NGO dedicated to building academic opportunities for research in Papua New Guinea by Papua New Guineans. Dr. West is also the co-founder of the Roviana Solwara Skul, a school in Papua New Guinea dedicated to teaching at the nexus of indigenous knowledge and western scientific knowledge. She is also the volunteer anthropologist for the PNG NGO Ailan Awareness (AA), a marine-conservation NGO.

Find out more about Professor West’s work here:



 Professor Ellen Morris

Ellen Morris is a Barnard alumna. Having majored in Ancient Studies, she earned a Ph.D. in Egyptian and Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, back at Barnard, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient Studies. She has published extensively on issues pertinent to ancient Egyptian imperialism. Her first book, entitled The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom (Brill, 2005), viewed Egyptian imperialism through the lens of military bases erected in the latter half of the second millennium BCE from Lebanon south to Sudan. The book examines the nuts-and-bolts of the imperial project, exploring the rationale behind the emplacement and design of these bases, the logistics of how they were manned and supplied, and the reactions of local people to them. Her second book Ancient Egyptian Imperialism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018) explores the dynamics of military occupation, boundary maintenance, settler colonialism, transculturation, collaboration, and subversion as evidenced in a variety of expansionistic episodes throughout Egypt’s ancient history.

In addition to these and other works on various aspects of Egyptian imperialism, Morris has published on the dynamics of political fragmentation, state formation, sexuality and sacred performance, retainer sacrifice, island theory, and divine kingship. Most of these can be accessed from  She has also excavated in the Nile Valley at Abydos and Mendes, and at the site of Amheida in the Dakhleh Oasis. Given that her experience studying abroad at the American University in Cairo during her time at Barnard helped launch her on the path she follows today, Morris is a strong advocate of studying abroad. She is, however, delighted to have the privilege of working with The Barbara Silver Horowitz ’55 Scholars of Distinction during their time on campus at Barnard, of getting to know them as individuals and as emerging scholars, and of finding out where their own journeys will take them.



Candy Chan ('21)

I was born in Singapore, but I grew up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Prior to coming to New York City, I attended a boarding school near Boston. Some of my most meaningful memories are of the times my mother taught me about censorship as we read the Vietnamese newspaper; I’ve been determined to pursue a career in journalism and to defend journalists’ rights since. I’m an avid reader, and I was fortunate enough to grow up immersed in a weird and wonderful world that straddled the line between fiction and nonfiction. I think a lot about storytelling and how I can produce writing that is both innovative and grounded in the experiences we share as human beings. I knew from the start of high school that I wanted to know as much as I could in every area of study to better my writing. Barnard, a liberal arts college without a core curriculum, seemed like the perfect fit. The added incentive is without a doubt its location: New York City. I walk the streets with a copy of the New York Times in my hands, hoping that one day my name will be in the byline.

I intend to major in History, a subject that I know can give me perspective on current events. I also have a slight obsession with the Kennedys — Jackie in particular— and any excuse to read about their legacy is fine with me! I plan to minor in French, a language that has been forgotten in my French-Vietnamese family, in hopes of reviving it. On campus I am an editor at The Eye, Spectator’s long-form journalism magazine. Ideally I’d be better at singing and dancing, since only then would I fulfill my other dream of being a Broadway star. Nonetheless, I wholly consider myself a fan and connoisseur of musical theatre, even if my resume is limited to a minor role in the ensemble of A Chorus Line. Though my professional goals seem to center entirely around journalism, what I am curious about and would like to pursue academically is broad and extensive, so much so that it could cover the whole of New York City itself. Thanks to the Scholars program, I could have the best of both worlds.

Articles I've written for The Columbia Daily Spectator can be viewed here.


Kena Chavva ('22)

I was born and raised in New Jersey, and am the proud daughter of two Indian immigrants. I am lucky to have grown up in an environment where all of my passing interests were nurtured and taken seriously--that encouragement has turned me into someone with a myriad of academic interests, such as languages, political science, and philosophy. I'm particularly interested in building more ethical, equitable societies through interdisciplinary studies, though I have not yet decided the specific path I will pursue in my education in order to work towards these goals. 

Beyond academics, I am an avid reader, piano player, and museumgoer. I also aim to be creative in my own ways, primarily through writing fiction and composing amateur music. I hope to become involved in both the Barnard-Columbia arts community and that of New York City as I begin my first year on campus. I'm thrilled to be part of the Scholars program, as it is an ideal way to combine both the scholastic and experiential opportunities that New York City offers. 


Brenda Huang ('22)

Born in NYC to a Chinese-American family, I grew up all over the United States, taking more road trips than I could count, before settling down in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. Throughout these travels, my cultural identity has always remained vital to me, and I look forward to expanding my international perspective during my years at Barnard among its richly diverse and multifaceted student body. As of now, I dream of a career in law, combining a strong sense of justice with a broad expanse of intellectual pursuits and interests.

In addition, I’ve always had a passion for the visual arts. Between that and my love of reading and writing, I’ve naturally been attracted to comics—both consumption and creation. This manifests itself in my endless piles of sketchbooks, storyboard drafts, and my eagerness to approach nearly everything with an open mind and an artistic perspective. I’m fascinated by the interactions between cultural heritage and the arts, as well as the link between societal trends and individual expression. In my studies, I’m particularly drawn to interdisciplinary fields, examining the intertwinement of social activism, political science, and economic analysis, as they allow me to further both my interests in the humanities as well as my love of mathematics. In my free time, you can find me volunteering (or curled up with a book) at the local library or sketching and journaling in a nearby cafe. I’m always excited to meet new people and dive into new environments, and I simply can’t wait to engage in the vibrant communities of both Barnard and New York City.


Rivka Keshen ('22)

I was born in a small town in Northwestern Ontario, Canada and moved to Beijing, China when I was eight to be closer to the Chinese side of my family. Growing up amongst First Nations in Canada and seeing firsthand how they were deprived of their basic rights instigated my desire to pursue human rights with a specific focus on indigenous rights. I have also found a passion in theatre ever since my parents signed me up for a Shakespeare play to get rid of my lisp when I was seven. Over the years, I have discovered that theatre can be used for far more than entertainment and that performance holds the potential to retain culture. These interests lead me to pursue a double major in human rights and theatre.

In coming to Barnard and living in New York, I look forward to learning more about Indigenous human rights through the Race and Ethnicity Department and I hope to engage more with human rights issues on a global level. I am especially excited to be at the forefront of abstract theatre so I can further explore how theatre can be used in therapeutic manner to help children with mental disabilities, how it can address taboo subjects and how it can push the boundaries of perspectives regarding social issues. I am also eager to bridge my Chinese and Jewish cultures by joining the China-Israel Connection Club where I can meet students from around the world who share the goals as me.


Jazmin Maco ('21)

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, I hope to explore my passions for social activism, intersectional feminism, and queer theory, and creative writing in my time at Barnard. I am planning to pursue a double major in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and Africana Studies. My interests align with my dream of one day becoming the editor-in-chief of a literary or arts magazine, or even creating one myself!

Currently, I am a mentor in Young Storytellers, an organization that uses one-on-one mentorship with low-income 5th graders to teach them how to write original stories and see them brought to life on stage and film. I am currently the Events Coordinator for Barnard's literary magazine, Echoes. I also participate in various clubs around Barnard and Columbia, including Proud Colors and BSO.

I have interned with the Freedom From Fistula Foundation, a charity that helps women and girls in Africa suffering from obstetric fistula by providing free surgeries to heal their fistulas and free maternity care to prevent fistulas and ensure safe childbirth. This summer, I am interning at the American Museum of Natural History, working on materials related to African and Pacific ethnology, under Jacklyn Lacey the curator for both of these exhibits.


Camille Marchini ('22)

I was born in NYC and raised in Tarrytown, New York. I attended the wonderfully diverse high school of Sleepy Hollow, and of course enjoyed the many many Halloween traditions that the town had to offer! I am French and Italian, though I claim the former more than the latter (hello, berets!). 

I'm entering Barnard undecided, but I have an interest in fashion and its many forms like editorial writing, styling, and design. In high school, I was the costume designer for the theater program and some of my work was nominated for a Metro Award (the Tonys of the lower Hudson). Besides design, some of my other passions include musical theater and horseback riding. Riding is a sport I've participated in since I was eleven, and that has helped me grow emotionally and spiritually, and always makes me happy! 

Other things I'm interested in are psychology, neuroscience, political science, and the veterinary sciences.  At Barnard, I plan on becoming a part of Columbia's newspaper, costume designing for Barnard's theater pieces, and joining the equestrian team. I hope my time here at Barnard will guide me toward a passion I can declare as my major! 


Ruba Nadar ('21)

I was born and raised in London but am of Lebanese, Egyptian and Syrian descent. I have always been creative at heart; with dreams of becoming a fashion designer at age five and then the next Anna Wintour at age ten, it was clear where my interests lay. I eventually moved from fashion to fine arts and feel so fortunate to be further exploring this part of myself in, arguably, the most creative city in the world. It is invaluable to be living in a place where I can go see the work of my favourite artist, Clyfford Still, only a fifteen minute subway ride away.

I have a passion for the visual arts and a love for the history of art. My passion articulates itself with endless journals brimming with cutouts and collage, using materials from my own photography to the stitch of my Singer sewing machine. My love for art history I attribute to my mother, who from the time I was three dragged me to every museum and gallery in London and gave me the appreciation for art that she has.

My interests have also manifested themselves beyond my artwork and gallery visits. I was the editor of my high school’s literary arts magazine, Jambalaya, and have worked in a London gallery, gaining insights into the real world behind the glossy facade. Furthermore, I am fascinated by the role that identity and heritage play in the work of artists, particularly of Middle Eastern descent, and how that differs or remains between regions, from artist to artist. The scholar program provides the perfect avenue to explore this and to begin to answer questions about some of the worlds most visionary artists whose identities dictate their creation.

Articles I've written for The Columbia Daily Spectator can be viewed here. My profile on Karen Green, The Columbia Curator for Comics and Cartoons, was inspired by one of our Scholars' events.

Julie Seager ('21)

I’m a native New Yorker and am excited to be spending more years in the city at Barnard. Since childhood, I’ve always been interested in almost every subject: math, english, history, and science. Since high school and college, these interests have become more refined yet still broad: now I love studying calculus and discrete math, urban studies, economics, art history, poetry, and more. Beyond being interested in disparate fields, I’m especially interested in interdisciplinary studies, particularly with regards to understanding the economic dimensions of racial, gender, and class inequality. I’m constantly thinking about how to use my passion for mathematics to investigate my humanities interests further. I’ve luckily gotten the chance to meet so many inspiring Barnard and Columbia professors who work on precisely these issues, and am so excited about the opportunity to do research through the Scholars program.

Outside of the classroom, I love attending lectures, readings and exhibits and generally engaging with the vibrant intellectual community of the city. I absolutely love working with children and have been a long time babysitter, camp counselor, workshop leader, and now math mentor at M.S. 324! Working with kids has made me really interested in education, particularly equitable education and public schooling. I also love to play chess, to go on walks in cities, to go to cafes, to thrift stores, and to meet new people. I’m so far having a great time at Barnard and have had so many engaging and inspiring conversations with the students here. I’m really excited for the years to come, to connect with more professors, and to attend more amazing events with my fellow scholars!


Hannah Seibold ('22)

I was born in Frankfurt, Germany and lived there until I was nine when my parents decided to relocate to South East Asia. After finishing 8th Grade at the German European School in Singapore, we moved to New York, where I attended Marymount School. These various experiences have not only made me trilingual but also challenged me to question my own beliefs and seek out my actual interests. I have pursued numerous sports, courses, and internships to determine where my true passions lie, eventually settling on running and tennis, and International Relations and Business. Moving between continents for most of my life has interested me in IR, as I was exposed me to various political systems and contrasting ideologies. I have interned with a New York Senators Office, a Global Impact Investment Fund and a Financial Trading Platform, each inspiring me to pursue a career in international diplomacy or global business.

Apart from these aspirations, I am a big fan of podcasts, classic French or German novels and Art History. I was lucky enough to pursue the latter more seriously during my time in New York, thanks to my school's proximity to some of the world’s greatest museums. Along with other leaders of the Art History Club, I led both students and alumni through the galleries of the Met, which I now know like the back of my hand — I highly recommend the Wallace Wing as well as the Storage Rooms. I look forward to sharing these interests and many more with my fellow scholars!