Sié Fellows

The Sié Fellowship is a two-year, full-tuition scholarship to the Korbel School of International Studies. It is awarded each year to outstanding master's degree-seeking students from the U.S. and abroad. The fellowship is highly selective and is granted to applicants that have superior academic credentials and future leadership potential. To develop these future leaders, Sié fellows have opportunities to work as research assistants, spend time with practitioners, and join a network of over 80 graduates of this special program doing exceptional work around the world. Fellows form a tight-knit cohort that provides the basis for a lifelong professional network. Sié Fellow Alumni hold leadership positions in business, government, journalism, and civil society.   

Please send questions about the Sié Fellowship or about the application process to Korbel admissions.

Current Sié Fellows

2023 Sié Fellows

  • Kerent Benjumea
    Kerent Benjumea

    Kerent is pursuing an M.A. in International Studies, hoping to focus on the Middle East and Human Rights during her time in Korbel. She recently obtained a B.A. in International Studies from the University of San Francisco where she held a functional specialization in Global Politics and Societies, a regional track in Middle East Studies, and a minor in Jewish Studies and Social Justice. Her research mostly lay in the Levant, specifically Israel-Palestine, along with interests in conflict resolution, political destabilization, international law, & human rights. She has experience in organizations such as the Arab Center DC, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Durrat Almanal- Amman, and the Organization for World Peace. Kerent’s research experience abroad led her to publish a thesis titled “Modern Tribalism: Change, Challenges, and Continuity for Bedouins in Amman”, and most recently, she is working on publishing research on Palestinian youth activists’ reimagining of a one-state solution. After her master’s degree, Kerent hopes to pursue a Ph.D. while continuing to focus on transnational solidarity, peace, and justice as they apply to the Middle East. 

  • Gulalai Ismail
    Gulalai Ismail

    Gulalai is pursuing an M.A. in International Human Rights. Gulalai is an award-winning, exiled human rights activist from Pakistan. She is the Co-Founder and Chairperson of Aware Girls, a young women-led organisation working towards gender equality and peace. Gulalai’s work focuses on young women’s political and economic empowerment, human rights education and leadership, addressing gender-based violence, legal advocacy, setting up women support helplines across the region, and countering violent extremism. She has advocated at the U.N. in support of peace and security resolutions, and has set up women support networks across Pakistan and Afghanistan to counter violent extremism among young people and to bridge women peace activists. For her extraordinary work in building peace, gender equality, and development, Gulalai is the recipient of multiple international honors, including Humanist of the Year Award (2014), Commonwealth Youth Award (2015), Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention (2016), Anna Politkovskaya Award (2017), and Women’s Rights Award (2021) by the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. In 2013, Gulalai was named among the “100 Leading Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy, and among the “30 Under 30” youth activists by National Endowment for Democracy. 

  • Saba Ismail
    Saba Ismail

    Saba is pursuing an M.A. in International Human Rights. Born and raised in Pakistan, she is an award winning, exiled human rights activist who has been working for the empowerment of young women for over two decades. She is the Co-Founder of Aware Girls, a young women-led organisation working towards gender equality and peace. Most recently, Saba started “The Dignity Project,” a digital storytelling course for young women of South Asian origin to equip them with the tools to tell their stories. Over the years, her work has focused on addressing gender-based violence; strengthening leadership skills, political participation, and economic empowerment for young women; sexual and reproductive rights and health; legal advocacy; and countering violent extremism and promoting peace. Saba has been involved in setting up numerous regional and international networks and support helplines for youth and women to promote peace and counter violent extremism. She has served as a speaker and an advisory group member at organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank. Saba is the recipient of prestigious fellowships such as the Hurford Youth Fellowship (Washington, D.C) and the Vital Voices Fellowship and the Do School Fellowship (Germany). She is the recipient of the Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention (2016) the Red Bangle Award (2017). In 2013, Saba was recognized as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy, and among the “30 Under 30” youth activists by the National Endowment for Democracy. Her work has been mentioned in numerous international publications. 

  • Johnny Valdez
    Johnny Valdez

    Originally from the Southern Ute Reservation in Colorado, Johnny Valdez is an M.A. candidate in Global Economic Affairs and intends to explore his interests in finance and humanitarian assistance. Johnny recently graduated from Willamette University with a bachelor's degree in Economics with a minor in Sociology. As an undergrad, Johnny was active on campus and in his community, serving as Co-President of the Native and Indigenous Student Union and an advisor for the Black Advisory Council, as well as an intern instructor at Willamette Academy where he developed teaching methods that centered around minority groups and activists. Johnny strives to positively influence the struggle for equal economic representation for Indigenous peoples. His research focuses on racial inequality and diversity in the economic sphere, particularly on “racial financialization,” a theory he coined that explores the intentional exclusion of people of color from the economy. Johnny is also dedicated to diversifying curriculum at all levels of education. His hobbies include reading, lifting weights, and writing music. 

  • Sheila van de Graaph
    Sheila van de Graaph

    Sheila is pursuing an M.A. in International Development. She currently holds a master's degree in Gender and Development from the University of Nairobi; bachelor's degree in Anthropology, Gender, and African Studies; a postgraduate diploma in project management; a certificate in monitoring and evaluation; and a certificate in effective leadership. Sheila has over 11 years of experience in initiating, managing, and developing programs in the spheres of education, gender and development, youth empowerment, and leadership across Africa. She has spoken in various events and conferences on youth and gender development. Sheila is an alumna of the U.S. State Department Young African Leaders Initiative Mandela Washington Fellowship. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of the nationally registered non-profit organization, Youth and Success Association (YASA) that empowers vulnerable youth and women in the slums and rural parts of Kenya and across Africa. YASA has directly impacted over 14,000 youth and women across Africa since its inception. In her free time, Sheila enjoys outdoor activities, travelling and dancing. 

  • Evan Waddill
    Evan Waddill

    After living and working on the East Coast for most of her life, Evan is excited to now be based in Denver while pursuing an M.A. in International Human Rights. Evan graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a bachelor’s of science in Foreign Service and a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Studying in D.C. helped foster Evan’s interest in global affairs, and she sought first-hand exposure to different cultures by working and studying in Mauritius, Tanzania, and France throughout her undergraduate years. After graduating, Evan served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with community-based organizations in Philadelphia, PA and Charleston, SC in order to better understand aspects of inequity and development in a domestic context. Evan will use her time at Korbel to refocus on themes of international justice, including conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, and sustainable development. 

 

2022 Sié Fellows

  • Michelle Carrère Seizer
    Michelle Seizer

    Originally from Montevideo, Uruguay, Michelle is pursuing an M.A. degree in International Studies with a specialization in human mobility and intercultural relations. After finishing her bachelor's degree in Social Communications, Michelle found her dream career working with immigrants and refugees with the Uruguayan government's Syrian Refugee Resettlement program and, later on, coordinating the area of migration and intercultural education in the Uruguayan Ministry of Education and Culture. Michelle has always had a passion for experiencing the world's diversity and building bridges among different viewpoints, a passion that she strived to channel through her various personal, volunteer, and professional activities. Michelle enjoys music, books, walks in nature, beer and conversations with friends, writing, and a dark sense of humor. 

  • Janet Hernandez
    Janet Hernandez

    Janet, born and raised in Denver, Colorado, is pursuing an M.A. in International Development and a Public Diplomacy certificate. Janet earned her bachelor's degree in English and Spanish with a translator's certificate from Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver. She was the first student in MSU Denver history to receive a Fulbright Scholarship. Janet used her Fulbright Scholarship to teach in South Korea for three years at an elementary school, university, and international educational institute. Janet aspires to improve migration policy. 

  • Melissa Roggero
    Melissa Roggero

    Originally from Florida, Melissa is pursuing an M.A. in International Development at Korbel and will explore her interests in education and humanitarian assistance. Melissa received her bachelor's degree in Foreign Affairs and French from the University of Virginia. As a dual citizen of Brazil and the United States, Melissa has a love of languages and international relations. Before coming to Korbel, Melissa spent a Semester at Sea, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Georgia, worked on the leadership team for GLOW (Girls Leading our World), and was a Participant Recruiter for the FLEX program with American Councils for International Education. Melissa is excited to bolster her previous experience through her studies at Korbel to ultimately find ways to overcome obstacles within the intersection of education and sustainable development. 

  • Jina Seo
    Jina Seo

    Jina Seo is an M.A. student in International Security. Jina earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science and Diplomacy with a minor in Economics. She has dedicated more than ten years to researching North Korean nuclear issues in South Korea. Her research focuses on how North Korea's nuclear capabilities are reflected in its tactics and has widened into predicting North Korea's strategy by studying its security decision-making processes. Her interests also include authoritarianism, regime security, and failed states. 

“I am looking forward to making lasting connections with the staff, faculty, and students at the Korbel school. I look forward to listening to new perspectives so I can continue to develop my own knowledge. The resources here are amazing and I anticipate using them to help disadvantaged people. The Sié Center is a place where we can make real change and that is what is important to me as a Fellow.” 

Johnny Valdez, 2022 Sié Fellow
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