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.

2025 Sié Fellows

  • Dipasa Bista
    Dipasa is smiling and standing with her hands crossed over her midsection, wearing a black floral blouse and jeans.

    Dipasa, from Nepal, is pursuing an MA in International Development and hopes to specialize in Gender and Policy. She has a BSc in Public Health Studies with a minor in Development Studies from the Asian University for Women. As an intersectional feminist, Dipasa is passionate about gender justice, women's rights, and strengthening feminist leadership by creating safe spaces that enable women’s capacity and growth. In 2020, she co-founded Political Literacy for Women, a non-profit that aims to enhance Nepali women's political literacy and create a collective of women’s rights advocates. She also leads a social, digital advocacy campaign called #NOTANYMORE to stand in solidarity against online sexual harassment and to advocate for stronger laws in Nepal. Dipasa brings in the experience of working professionally as a grants management and fundraising professional. As a grassroots activist, she has worked directly with and for young women and girls, NGOs across Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, local governments, international partners, and philanthropic and donor agencies. As the organization alumnus, Dipasa is also an ambassador of Women LEAD Nepal. In her free time, she loves being around dogs, mountains, and good food!

  • Alejandro Chavez
    Alejandro is doing a traditional Mexican dance, wearing a traditional Mexican dancing outfit of black shirt, black pants with white detailing, and a black wide-brimmed hat with white trim. He is holding his hat in the air and his left leg is lifted off the ground as he looks upward.

    Alejandro Chavez is an MA Candidate in International Studies. He is from Denver, Colorado and completed his BA here at Korbel in 2019. During his undergraduate studies at DU he studied abroad twice, first in southern France and a second time in Lima, Peru. His Study Abroad experience consisted of language coursework and immersion to learn French and Spanish. He was an active member of the DU community participating in various on campus programs such as PLP, Latinx Student Alliance, and Undergraduate Student Government. His time at DU made him passionate for issues that affect marginalized communities beyond US borders. Upon graduation Alejandro was offered a position with the Peace Corps in Guatemala but was unable to proceed due to the Covid Pandemic. From here he pivoted and allowed his identity as a member of the Denver Latino community to be a guiding compass in his career, working with non-profits here in his community: Lideramos, a Latino Leadership Alliance and Mi Casa Resource Center. With passion for his Mexican Identity and community, Alejandro became a member of the ArtistiCO Dance Company in 2021 and continues to train as a Professional Dancer specializing in Mexican Ballet Folklórico. ArtistiCO is a dance company dedicated to uplifting and creating access to Latinx arts and culture through the medium of dance. With ArtistiCO Alejandro has been able to perform at some of the most prestigious stages and theaters here in Denver including the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and the DU Newman Center. Alejandro hopes to combine his passions for community, social movements, and cultural diplomacy during his time at DU.  

  • Faizaa Fariya Hridi (Hridi)
    Hridi stands and smiles in partial shade on DU's campus with green grass, trees, and a blue sky behind her. Her black hair is shoulder-length, and she wears glasses and a colorful red top.

     A passionate environmentalist, Faizaa Fariya Hridi completed her undergraduate studies at Independent University Bangladesh with a double major in Environmental Science and Environmental Management along with a minor in Anthropology. She started her professional journey working as a Research Analyst for Canopy Security Risk Management Professionals where she worked with at-risk and global organisations on matters related to brand sustainability, protection and security frameworks while also working as a language and coding mentor for middle-school kids, furthering tech education initiatives. Faizaa additionally had the chance to work in lab settings to advance chemical and biological understandings towards sustainable agriculture and aquaculture in Bangladesh. As an MA student of Global Environmental Studies, she is eager to further her understanding of sustainability needs within the complexities of the current world context and to make a better change. As her leisure activities, she enjoys cooking, travelling and reading books. 

  • Carly Paul
    Carly stands outside with greenery behind her as she wears a white blouse and long earrings. She smiles into the camera and her blonde hair is loose around her shoulders.

    Carly is pursuing her MA in International Studies with a focus on Gender and Global Justice. She received her BA in Development Studies from Brown University where she examined the restorative potentials and pitfalls of the PTSD diagnosis for Afghan women. Throughout her career, she has worked across the international development sector in project management, strategic research, and communications with USAID partners, NGOs, institutional funders, activists, and academics. She has worked internationally with indigenous Mapuche artisans in Chile, at the U.S. Embassy in Dar Es Salaam, and was awarded a USAID Global Health fellowship to support the work of grassroots health organizers in Nairobi, Kenya. Her passion for women’s rights spans from unwavering commitment to the domestic abortion rights struggle, to the needs of women in prolonged conflict zones. Additionally, Carly is an NCAA All-American in the high jump and the heptathlon. She is passionate about the outdoors and works as a freelance florist in her spare time. 

  • Sheida Sam
    Sheida, a young woman with cropped, bleached hair, smiles gently at the camera. She wears a yellow-gold satin shirt and several dainty gold necklaces. The edge of her laptop is visible to the left of her face, and she sits in an interior space with large ceiling lights behind her.

    Sheida is from Iran and is pursuing an M.A. in international studies focusing on Artivism, Gender Equality, Movement, and Social Resilience. She has a master's degree in art research from Iran and a Professional Coaching Certification (PCC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) in London. She has around ten years of experience managing her institute in Iran and has been involved in various aspects of the artistic, educational, and self-development fields.

    As an artist, Sheida blends art and creativity to address transformative topics that aim to raise awareness, promote resilience, and foster social responsibility. She is particularly drawn to interdisciplinary contexts and has a great tendency for practical experience, where she can connect diverse concepts to enhance human life. She focuses on social justice, gender equality, and peace, always emphasizing non-violence. Throughout her career, Sheida has worked as a publisher, curator, event designer, art advisor, graphic designer, photographer, trainer, coach, and mentor. In recent years, she has conducted group coaching workshops and self-awareness courses tailored specifically for women. These courses prioritize skills such as effective communication, leadership, critical thinking, and managing uncertainty.

    In addition to her work in women's empowerment, Sheida is passionate about exploring the role of art and creativity in fostering collective wisdom and driving social change. Her organization has been actively involved in volunteer-driven educational initiatives, particularly during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and Iran's "woman, life, freedom" movement.

    Outside of her professional pursuits, Sheida enjoys nature, theater, concerts, art galleries, and spending quality time with friends.

2024 Sié Fellows

  • Shifa Taslim Chowdhury

    Shifa Taslim Chowdhury is from Bangladesh and is pursuing her MA in International Human Rights here at Korbel. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) from a liberal arts university Asian University for Women (AUW). She started her career as a researcher in the developmental sector, where she worked in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) department with BRAC focusing on several rural parts of Bangladesh. Afterward, she moved to the humanitarian sector where she worked rigorously for the Rohingya Refugee community. As a part of BBC Media Action and Impact Initiative team, she has visited all the corners of the refugee camps and interacted with the community which encouraged her to pursue her passion for human rights and she aspires to make this world a better place for refugees. During her leisure time, she like to cook different cuisines and loves to travel to different places.

  • Phoebe Cribb

    Originally from the U.K., Phoebe Cribb is an M.A. candidate in International Studies and intends to explore her interest in international law and security. Phoebe was selected as a Sutton Trust-Fulbright Scholar in 2015 and graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2020 with an honors degree in political science. Phoebe wrote her undergraduate thesis on international soft law in the context of migrant education policies in the European Union, for which she won the Herman M. Somers Prize in Political Science. After graduating, Phoebe worked as a grassroots organizer for the 2020 Election in Florida to increase the youth turnout and combat voter suppression in marginalized communities. Phoebe then interned for Cornerstone Government Affairs, where she wrote Congressional Committee hearing memos for national security and defense clients. Phoebe focused on nuclear proliferation, emerging defense technology, and tracked the deliberations to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. In addition, Phoebe has completed research-based internships at the Progressive Policy Institute and the American Enterprise Institute. Her hobbies include surfing, skiing, and painting. 

  • Olivia Daigle

    Olivia Daigle graduated from Earlham College with a BA in Politics in 2019. During her time at university, Olivia studied abroad in Greece, Germany, Spain, and Morocco. While there, she examined the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of these countries and how their governments and citizens responded to the arrival of large numbers of refugees from many parts of the world. After graduating Olivia worked as Public Programs Coordinator at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh before starting her MA degree in International Human Rights at Korbel. She is passionate about international law, refugee rights, and restorative justice practices. 

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
CTA Pattern

Apply to the Korbel School for Consideration as a Sié Fellow.