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 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

I am currently an Assistant Professor in Ancient Studies at Barnard, where I teach a First Year Seminar titled On Dreams and Nightmares as well as lectures and seminars on Ancient Egypt, Nubia, the Southern Levant, and other areas of the Ancient Mediterranean. Fittingly, I began my studies at Barnard, earning my undergraduate degree in Ancient Studies. I went on to pursue a Ph.D. Egyptian and Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. My work centers on Egypt’s empire, which in the New Kingdom stretched from Syria to Sudan. I have published two books on Egypt’s imperial dynamics: The Architecture of Imperialism. Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom (Brill, 2005) and Ancient Egyptian Imperialism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018). In addition, I write on state formation and political fragmentation, sexuality and sacred performance, retainer sacrifice, island theory, and divine kingship. Most of my articles can be freely accessed from At the moment, I am working on a book that examines Nilotic rituals, especially the material culture produced by Egyptians as they celebrated good floods or, conversely, enacted crisis rituals to avert famine.


Candy Chan ('21)

I was born in Singapore, but I grew up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 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.

The landscape of journalism is constantly in flux. Though it frightens me that the fourth estate has been increasingly villainized in recent years, I am confident that the journalists defending truth will prevail. My thesis will center on the evolution of journalism and how institutions are responding to different political rhetoric, a decaying print industry and social media.

I’m majoring in History with a concentration in War and Revolution. On campus, I am the Features Editor at The Eye, Spectator’s long-form journalism magazine.

Articles I wrote 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. I'm particularly interested in building more ethical, equitable societies through interdisciplinary studies, and plan to major in English with a Film concentration and minor in French.

Beyond academics, I am an avid watcher, and piano player, and I try my best to take advantage of all the wonderful cultural opportunities that New York City offers. In the past, I have interned at the Maysles Documentary Center. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Scholars program, as it is an ideal way to combine the scholastic and experiential opportunities that the university and the larger city community provide.


Mia Cucufate ('23)

I was born and raised in Inglewood, a city located in southwestern Los Angeles County. As a daughter of two Salvadoran immigrants, I was exposed to the hardships that many Central Americans faced. As a result, I am interested in learning about U.S. Latin America as well as leftist groups that fought against it. I plan to major in Sociology and minor in Spanish and Latin American Cultures; however, that may change since I’m such as Journalism.

During my free time, you can find me journaling or volunteering for my city’s coalition. I also like to cafes, concerts, and thrift shops. My friends describe me as passionate, opinionated, and considerate. 



Maggie Forsyth ('23)

I was born and raised in upstate New York, just outside of Albany. As a child, I was engrossed in the workings of other cultures and societies, and became almost obsessed with studying how people of the past lived and interacted. This interest in the workings of societies eventually shifted from past to present as I learned about current events and the problems most pertinent to modern society. As I grew older, I also became increasingly passionate about art and how self expression manifests in its different forms, all dictated by the creator. In particular, I became fascinated by film and the making of a story. 

When faced with the question, what do you want to study, or even more daunting, what do you want to be when you grow up? — answer. Studying at Barnard gives me the perfect groundwork to become who I truly want to be when I grow up. By combining film studies with Anthropology and Human rights, I hope to help tell the stories of real people in a way that facilitates a more interconnected and understanding world. 


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 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. 


Harpreet Kaur ('23)

Born in India, I moved to America when I was four years old. Ever since then, I have moved all around settled Long Island. I was lucky to grow up with a fusion of American and Punjabi cultures, which truly shaped me into the person I am today. As a practicing Sikh, creating a more equitable and just world has been a major desire of mine. I plan to major in Sociology Barnard with a career in law in the future.

As a first-generation American, I believe that it is my duty to help other Americans, who have struggled to gain their footing in our society. I have been strongly influenced by this sense of duty, shaping my plans for a career in law. Beyond academics, I am a lover of books, cafes, and beach trips. Being from Long Island, I have developed a keen appreciation for nature and the world that surrounds us. I also love exploring various cultural aspects of Punjabi culture just so that I can feel connected to my roots. 


Rivka Keshen ('22)

I was born in a small town in Northwestern Ontario and moved to Beijing 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, to be used in a therapeutic manner to help children with mental disabilities, and to push the boundaries of perspectives regarding social issues. These combined interests are what led me to pursue a double major in human rights and theatre with a minor in psychology.

At Barnard, I’m part of the Connection Club, bridging my Chinese and Jewish cultures and bringing together Chinese and Israeli students on campus. You’ll also find me sleeping a homeless shelter on Wednesday nights through


Rachel Krul ('23)

Born and raised in Upstate New York, I was adopted when I was days old my wonderful parents. I’ve had an interest in public policy for years, and I’ve been involved in activism against gun violence and for voter registration in my own community. My deepest passion and interest, however, lies in refugee and immigrant empowerment. I love learning about different cultures’ approaches to issues relating to our collective shared humanity. I hope to study political science with an international focus along with human rights in order to eventually practice immigration or a non-profit organization.

Outside of those goals, I’m interested in film, literature, art history, and acting (specifically in Shakespearean plays). I am also fascinated by anthropology and ancient cultures, especially how the latter our culture today. In my spare time I can usually be found attempting to teach myself a foreign language or finding any excuse to spend time around dogs. At Barnard, I aspire to pursue all of these interests in unique ways and foster new ones as well. 


Jazmin Maco ('21)

As a self-identified Black lesbian born and raised on Long Island, New York, to a Caribbean family, I have always been interested in questions surrounding identity, community building, intersectional feminism, queer theory and liberation, as well as creative writing. During my time at Barnard I have been able to interrogate these questions through my Africana Studies major, by pursuing a thesis exploring the physical demarcations of social life for Black lesbians in New York City and Paris using oral histories and GIS mapping. This thesis is supported by my membership in a cohort of Mellon Mays scholars, an organization created to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. Additionally, through the Scholars of Distinction program, I am able to pursue my passion project, an excavation of generations of women’s histories in my Caribbean family. Through this project, I hope to explore themes of home, migration, and immigration in order to delve into their often mutually dependent and constantly growing meanings and significances. As a deeply creative person, this project allows me to engage the personal with the intellectual by constructing an archive that includes voices, such as my grandmother's, my mother's, and my own, that are primarily left out of the historical record.

You can see my exploration of these conceptions in my creative work, as displayed in Ratrock Magazine for my April 2019 Featured Artist spotlight!


Camille Marchini ('22)

I was born in NYC and raised in Tarrytown, New York. I'm undecided as to my major, 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 currently design or for some of Barnard’s shows. 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 I’m currently a part of the Columbia University Riding Team! Other things I'm interested in are psychology, political science, studies, and French literature. 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 and Egyptian descent. I am a rising junior studying Art History and Visual Arts, with a potential minor in Middle Eastern Studies. I am deeply interested in contemporary Middle Eastern art and my studies paired with the Scholars program allow me to explore this in a variety of ways. This summer, with the help of the scholar’s program, I spent six weeks in Venice, Italy taking a class on the art at this year's Biennale. It was a brilliant experience and helped me realise my passions for contemporary art and the artists behind it. I have dreams of being an art writer, artist and everything in between. I write for the Arts section of the Columbia Daily Spectator, and I was a featured artist for Ratrock Magazine this past December. Out of the classroom I am on the D1 Columbia Women’s Rowing team, training from September through May. I love studying and living in New York and am so thrilled for the next two years at Barnard, with the scholar's program and beyond.

Articles I 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.

My Ratrock featured art can be found here and here.


Yasmin Attar Olyaee ('23)

I was born in Iran and immigrated to Washington State as a fifth grader. I was amazed by how different the political environment in the United States was from what I had experienced in Iran. Here I’ve seen the power the people have to create change in their government and society. Acting as a page in the Washington State Senate and being a member of the ACLU club in my high school fostered a passion in me for politics. I have chosen to express my beliefs in politics through my art, for example by creating a number of paintings that showcase the myriad of communities that are in the United States–where minorities have a disproportionately small representation in the media in comparison to what is true in society. I have also chosen to express my beliefs outside of school, I’ve had opportunities to work with my local teen center as a part of their youth board to strengthen the community through events such as diversity movie nights, fundraisers for local animal shelters, and art shows for students. These interactions have inspired me to use diverse approaches to have an impact, and I’m more than excited to continue this journey.  


Julie Seager ('21)

As a native New Yorker, I have loved having the opportunity to spend four more years exploring the city as a Barnard Student and Scholar of Distinction. I’m currently a rising junior studying Economics and Math, with a minor in Computer Science. Despite my heavily STEM major, my interest in these fields is all due to my interdisciplinary passions. I’m fascinated by the economic dimensions of racial, gender, class and educational inequality, and committed to using my hard skills to analyze and generate policy solutions to these issues. Barnard was a natural choice for me, since we are lucky to have an Economics department focused on investigating many of these exact dilemmas. This summer I’m working with Professor Rajiv Sethi to use hybrid forecasting, the combination of human forecasting methods and machine models, to predict geopolitical events, although it feels like as much of my time has been spent trying to get through In Search of Lost Time by Proust! In my free time I love to read, go to cafés, babysit, play chess and walk around new neighborhoods.


Hannah Seibold ('22)

I was born in Frankfurt, Germany and lived there until I was nine when my parents decided to relocate to Singapore. After finishing middle school there, we moved to New York, where I attended Marymount School. These moves have exposed me to many political systems and ideologies, which sparked my interest in business and diplomacy. I have interned with a New York Senator’s Office, a Global Impact Investment Fund and a Financial Trading Platform. As of now, I am an economics major, with minors in psychology and leadership studies at the Athena Center.

When not in class, you are likely to find me working with Professor Remez as a research assistant in his Speech Perception Lab. There, I have worked on several different studies relating to speech synthesis and the perceptual organization of auditory stimuli. Apart from these academic pursuits, I am a big fan of podcasts, Central Park runs and Art History. I was lucky enough to explore the latter more seriously during my time in New York, thanks to my school's proximity to some of the world’s greatest museums, which I still visit whenever possible — I highly recommend the Wallace Wing as well as the Storage Rooms Met!


Eliana Shapere ('23)

I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, a city surrounded by nature. I grew up hiking, taking road trips with my family, and playing various violent sports. I love anything that involves creativity or logic: writing, languages, history, philosophy, and physics. I started learning Spanish in kindergarten, French in high school, and Italian and Russian during my gap year. I enjoy singing, playing viola, and going to concerts. It is worth noting that I take doodling very seriously.

During my gap year, I worked as a lifeguard, wrote articles for the University of Kentucky, and did grassroots organizing for a congressional campaign. I travelled to Cuba, several countries in the EU, and Russia. I hope to take my research as a Scholar abroad.


Emily Stone ('23)

I was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Santa Barbara, California, visit family in England every summer, and am beyond excited to be spending the next chapter of my life in New York City. I have always had an interest in the societies - both past and present - that surround us, and more recently, that curiosity has expanded to include the ways in which we shape the world and the world shapes us. I plan on majoring in both anthropology and environmental science, but am also drawn to a wide variety of other subjects such as human rights, psychology, and Spanish. I greatly value the opportunity to pursue my diverse interests through the Scholars of Distinction program.

Outside of academics, I love to dance. I have been doing ballet since I was three, and plan on continuing to take classes and participate in shows during the coming year. Pursuing dance allows me to balance my studies with creativity, and I know I will jump on every opportunity to see performances by companies such as NYCB and ABT, as well as experience everything else that New York City and Barnard have to offer.