A video dialogue program for young women in the USA and Muslim countries

Interested in learning more about the program from our participants? Send them an e-mail at their first name at 12hours.org

nafessah-i.jpgNafeesah Allen is a first year MIA student at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who plans to focus on Social Policy on Race & Ethnicity in both the African and Latin American regions. She is from Newark, New Jersey and is an alumna of Barnard College, the women’s college at Columbia University. There she double majored in Latin American Language & Literature and Africana Studies, and completed a thesis in 2006 on Afro-Brazilian politics of the late 20th Century. She plans to join the US Department of State, as a Foreign Service Officer, upon completion of her graduate study, and currently works for the City of New York in a community engagement capacity. Nafeesah was raised in a semi-religious Muslim household and has recently come to think critically about what it means to be both Muslim and Black in the United States, especially in light of recent US exploits in the Middle East and ever-present racial injustice within the country.

carolina.JPGCarolina Alvarez is a native of Argentina, and was raised in Queens, New York.  She is a graduate of Fordham University, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Finance.  She currently works as a major gifts fundraiser for NewYork Weill Cornell Medical Center, and is a first year student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.  She is deeply committed to volunteer work; she is a mentor with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and volunteers with the Pajama Project, a non-profit organization that provides pajamas and books to children who are waiting to be adopted.  She has a deep interest in international relations, specifically differing education policies around the world. 

james-headshot-2.jpgJames Giganti is a first-year MIA student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.  She received dual undergraduate degrees in Russian Language & Literature and Dance & Movement Studies from Emory University in Atlanta and went on to work in Moscow, Russia as an English teacher in schools at Skhodnenskaya and Debravushka.  Before coming to New York, James lived in St. Louis, Missouri, where she spent three years working with the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.  She plans to focus her studies on international security policy and conflictresolution and currently works with the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at CU.

Sudipti Gupta is currently a second year MPA student at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.  She is concentrating in Social Policy, with a focus in educational policy. Prior to SIPA, Sudipti taught high school math in Brooklyn, NY and also worked in marketing at American Express.  She is very interested in different cultures, particularly how social issues affect women from other parts of the world. She is very excited to be part of this forum.

Rachel Hermes is the second in a family of six children from northern Illinois where her dad is a farmer. After graduating from college in 2003 with a degree in History, she joined the Peace Corps as a Girls’ Education and Empowerment volunteer in Togo.  She lived in a Muslim village (where they called her Rachida) in the north of the country for over two years. When she returned home in December 2005, she worked at a Natural History Museum in Chicago before beginning her Master of International Affairs degree at Columbia University.

amina.JPGAmina Masood is a first year graduate student at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).  She completed her undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Rochester. Before coming to SIPA, Amina worked as a Legislative Assistant for a Member of Congress in Washington, DC.  She handled legislative duties, including education, welfare, and government reform related bills. She also was a founding member of the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, a group that aims to teach other congressional staff and Members of Congress about Islam.

beatriz.JPGBeatriz Mieses-Hernandez was born in the Dominican Republic and migrated to the United States in 1995.  She is currently a second year EMPA student at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs with a concentration in International Policy and Development. Beatriz has worked assisting women victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault for Safe Horizon, the largest crime victim’s assistance agency in New York City. She currently works empowering low-income mothers and immigrants in upper Manhattan.  Beatriz is interested in issues affecting women at a local and international level. She enjoys yoga and international cuisine.

victoria1.JPGVictoria Okoye grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and attended the University of Missouri, where she studied Journalism and International Studies. She has worked for a bilingual newspaper for Latinos in Missouri, taught seventh graders in a college preparatory program in Washington, D.C. and traveled to Nigeria and Ecuador. She is now a first-year graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and she plans to focus her coursework and activities on women’s studies, political and economic development and Africa. She enjoys traveling, watching movies and writing.  

carai_1.jpgCara Zwerling is a second semester MIA candidate at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. At SIPA, Cara is concentrating her studies on Conflict Resolution, International Media and the Middle East.   She is especially interested in the role that religion plays in both domestic and world affairs, and how matters of religion are presented by and in the news media.  Before enrolling at SIPA, Cara payed her dues in the private sector, working in both New York City and Frankfurt, Germany.  She is an alumna of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and was born and raised in northern New Jersey.