Our 2020 Fellows

The Karel Fellowship has been around since 2012. There have been seven classes of Fellows so far, and we’re so excited to welcome our eighth class of Fellows this summer.

Fatimah Abu-Sbeitan is a student at the University of Florida (UF) studying public relations. Growing up as a Palestinian-American Muslim woman, Fatimah recalls experiencing and witnessing many terrifying acts of discrimination, propelling her to become an advocate for human rights and representation. During summer trips to Jerusalem to visit her family, Fatimah would document the lives of Palestinians with her camera and a notepad. Through these experiences she learned the power of storytelling and representation, something she felt was missing on UF’s campus. Frustrated by the lack of diversity and inclusion, she helped co-found the first national Asian Public Relations Student Association (APRSA). This summer she will be interning at Families USA, a leading nonprofit and national voice for health care consumers that is dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all.


Aisha Adekunle is a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar majoring in political science at Yale University. As a first-generation student, Aisha is committed to increasing access to academic resources for underserved communities. Last fall, Aisha participated in the New Haven Resource and Application College Help (REACH) program, where she helped mentor a high school student through the college application process. Aisha is also involved with the Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association, a student club that works with lawyers and advocacy groups to promote human rights. As a member, Aisha has worked closely with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, gathering research and combing through policies and ordinances focused on increasing affordable housing across the state. This summer she will be interning at Families USA, a leading nonprofit and national voice for health care consumers that is dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all.


Noura Al-Rajhi is a senior at the University of Florida (UF) studying public relations and sustainability. She is an outdoor enthusiast and has a pronounced passion for environmental issues. As the Outreach and Communications Intern for the UF Office of Sustainability, Noura has established herself as an advocate for environmentally conscious, sustainable practices on campus. Noura also founded her own outdoor lifestyle brand, Far Wanderings, to inspire individuals to explore their natural surroundings. Last summer Noura volunteered with Alachua Habitat for Humanities, a non-profit organization that helps provide housing for low-income families. This summer she will be interning at the National Wildlife Federation, a nonprofit whose mission is to unite Americans from all walks of life in giving wildlife a voice. 


Jenny Ha is a Jack Kent Cooke scholar studying sociology at the University of Southern California (USC). As a first-generation student from a Title I high school, Jenny has been a vocal advocate for high quality education for all since she was a teenager. Her underfunded high school had one of the highest turnover rates for teachers and lowest student-to-counselor ratios. Inspired by statewide walkouts, she organized with student leaders across the city to keep the few college-level courses and extracurricular programs her school offered. Her efforts earned her a seat in Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room National Student Advisory Board. Through this experience she got to work with policymakers and local student leaders to create a college-going culture in under-resourced school districts like hers. Last summer Jenny interned at Asian Pacific American Advocates, where she helped research and analyze data to promote immigration policy reform and education equity. This summer she will be interning at the National League of Cities, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to being a resource and advocate for the nation’s cities and their leaders.


Maria Silva is an honors student at Montgomery College (MC) studying economics and social sciences. Growing up in a rural part of Peru, Maria knows firsthand what extreme poverty looks like. She recalls working on her family’s farm to weed and water seeds while juggling schoolwork. Her experiences prompted her to advocate for social and economic equity for immigrants. As an officer in her school’s Model UN club, she created a communications campaign to help students understand the many issues immigrants face. Maria also recently spoke at an honors conference about her ethnographic research project on Latino entrepreneurs in Maryland. When she’s not advocating for immigrants, you can find her organizing voter registrations on campus or volunteering at Manna Foods. This summer she will be interning at the National League of Cities, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to being a resource and advocate for the nation’s cities and their leaders


Ashani Williams is a rising junior at Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) majoring in government and Africana studies. From a young age, Ashani learned how to use her voice to fight for justice. When she was eight years old, she wrote a moving letter to a judge that helped prevent her father’s deportation. More recently, Ashani wrote and published an op-ed about the lack of representation among faculty and professors at F&M. Her writing stimulated conversation and prompted the college to hire more people of color. Ashani is also a radio host on campus for a show that highlights the daily struggles minorities faced. Her communications efforts and leadership have sparked much needed conversations regarding racial and social equality on campus. This summer she will be interning at Spitfire Strategiesa public relations firm that helps nonprofits and foundations make positive change happen.