SFS Selects Junior Centennial Fellows

The Walsh School of Foreign Service is pleased to announce this year’s class of Junior Centennial Fellows. These SFS undergraduate and graduate students will work alongside the 2017-2018 SFS Centennial Fellows during their semester-long residency, assisting their research and organizing events for the Georgetown and SFS community.

Claudia Escobar – Fall 2017

Sira Cordes

Sira Cordes is a first-year graduate student in Security Studies, focusing on International Security. Before coming to Georgetown she graduated cum laude from Leiden University in the Netherlands with a degree in International Studies. She has since interned at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. Sira has lived and worked in Latin America and is fluent in Spanish, English, and German. She very much looks forward to working with Claudia Escobar.

 Bryce Couch

Bryce Couch is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.  He is studying International Politics with a  concentration in Security Studies and is pursuing a certificate in International Diplomacy. Spending time exploring Buenos Aires and the Argentinian countryside sparked his interest in Latin America’s culture, and he specifically focuses on the effects of counter-terrorism, drug trafficking, and peacekeeping efforts within the region.


 Daniella Montemarano

Daniella Montemarano is a second year Master of Science in Foreign Service candidate studying international conflict resolution and multi-track diplomacy under the program’s Global Politics and Security concentration. A trained mediator since the age of 15, Daniella specializes in transitional justice, stabilization operations, the Rule of Law, and the gender-security nexus. Prior to joining MSFS, Daniella led peacebuilding projects in West and Southern Africa and the United States, addressing issues like women’s political participation in rural Cameroon and post-conflict reconciliation within the Liberian diaspora community. Her recent work includes electoral violence prevention at the U.S. Department of State and international criminal tribunal monitoring at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Daniella served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana (2012-15) and holds an honors B.A. in History and Political Science from New York University. She is a 2017-18 Huffington Graduate Fellow at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, where she researches insurgency-related Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) operations in the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad Basin.

Abhichana “Anna” Naiyapatana

Abhichana “Anna” Naiyapatana is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service planning to major in Culture and Politics. She has received the prestigious merit-based King’s Scholarship from the Royal Thai Government, which funds her overseas undergraduate studies. Being a birthright American citizen, Anna has always been fascinated by identity and nationality. Growing up Thai, she had witnessed two coup d’états, which motivates her to study International Relations. She hopes to better understand how to fight corruption, establish rule of law, and sustain democracy in her home country.  Anna is the secretary of the new club GU Thai which she co-founded, a Design Staff for the Georgetown Voice, and a member of the international music a cappella group GU Harmony. In her free time, she enjoys Buddhist meditation and creating art, whether it is illustration, poetry, or memes.


The Honorable Nasser S. Judeh – Fall 2017

Bushra Al-Sou’B

Bushra is a first-year undergraduate student at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, planning to major in International Politics with a concentration in Foreign Policy. She was born and raised in Karak, Jordan, but she moved to Amman in late middle school. Shortly after, she enrolled in King’s Academy where she spent her four high school years at boarding school. Bushra is passionate about empowering women in political leadership; she has always wanted to become Jordan’s first female Prime Minister. She likes to write opinion-editorial pieces. In her free time, she enjoys playing frisbee or chess with friends.

Thomas Chidiac

Tom is a second-year MSFS student, pursuing the Global Politics & Security concentration. Prior to joining Georgetown, he worked in a humanitarian-focused tech startup in Amman, Jordan and helped develop programs and policies to address the MENA-wide youth employment crisis in Doha, Qatar. Tom began his career as a Teach for America corps member teaching middle school math here in Washington, DC, and remains passionate about education policy. Tom is a proud Syrian-American and was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in economics, a Bachelor of Philosophy in politics/philosophy, and a Certificate in Arabic Linguistics.

Caila McHugh

Caila McHugh is a first-year undergraduate student in the SFS thinking about studying Regional and Comparative Studies between the Middle East and Latin America, International Politics, or Science and Technology in International Affairs. Her aspirations include becoming a Foreign Service Officer and bridging the cultural and political divide between the U.S. and the Middle East. She is an avid reader, language fanatic, and cultural proponent who loves to travel and learn from those around her. Spending the last year in Morocco on a State Department scholarship, she immersed herself in Moroccan culture and studied Arabic, further contributing to her desire to become a foreign policy expert on the region. At Georgetown, she is also involved in the Delta Phi Epsilon (DPE) professional foreign service sorority, No Lost Generation, Rangila, and the Georgetown Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) program.

Alaa Mufleh

Alaa is an M.A. candidate in the Arab Studies Program at the School of Foreign Service, concentrating on Development and Entrepreneurship in the Arab World while working towards a certificate in International Business Diplomacy through SFS’s Landegger program. Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, Alaa is passionate about political and economic development, with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, literacy & education in the Arab world. Before coming to Georgetown, Alaa served as the Alumni Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, and through her position, she had the opportunity to change people’s lives through managing a portfolio of over 7,500 Jordanian alumni of U.S. Government-funded exchange programs including: Georgetown Seminar, Eisenhower Fellows, Fulbright, TechWomen, TechGirls, Fortune500, KL-YES, CocaCola GBI, Goldman Sachs, ACYPL, MEPI, BTL, ACCESS, UGRAD, and IVLP, among others. In addition to managing the aforementioned programs, she had the opportunity to implement country-wide outreach programs designed to strengthen the U.S.-Jordanian partnership. Prior to joining the U.S. Embassy in Amman, she had worked at several international organizations in various capacities, namely: AMIDEAST and IREX. Alaa is an avid hiker, aspiring photographer and sometimes introduces herself as Jordan’s first female Prime Minister!


Ambassador Richard Verma – Fall 2017

Husanjot Chahal

Husanjot Chahal is a graduate student at the Security Studies Program and a columnist for the Georgetown Security Studies Review. She has worked in New Delhi-based research institutes exploring terrorism and counter-terrorism, and other security issues in the South Asian region. Prior to this, she was a researcher and programme coordinator at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies and worked at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses’ Internal Security Centre. Husanjot holds a Master’s degree in International Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi.

Zhenling Lai

Zhenling LaiZhenling Lai is a first-year MSFS student from Singapore, with an intended concentration in Global Politics and Security. Prior to enrolling in Georgetown University, Zhenling served in the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Singapore. Her last appointment was as an Assistant Director in the Defence Policy Office, handling non-traditional security operations such as maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Zhenling graduated from Princeton University in 2010, with an A.B. in Psychology.

Arjun Mehrotra

Arjun Mehrotra is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service, majoring in International Political Economy. He was born in New Delhi, grew up in Bangalore and Dubai and attended high school in Singapore. Arjun has a deep interest in US-India relations, is a member of the Student Board of the Georgetown India Initiative (where he also heads the Writing and Research Committee), and is Director of Outreach for India Ink (the student-run blog on India). In addition, Arjun is a Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellow, doing research on American foreign policy under Professor Charles Kupchan, an Associate Board member of the Lecture Fund and a tour guide in the Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society. In his spare time, he enjoys soccer, watching TED Talks, engaging in discussion and reading pretty much anything under the sun.

Bushra Shaikh

Bushra is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service considering a major in International Politics with a certificate in diplomatic studies. She was born in Jammu and Kashmir, India where she spent a considerable part of her life before embarking on a series of adventures to Las Vegas and Phuket. She considers these experiences at home in Kashmir and abroad a major factor in sprouting her interest in international affairs. As a Junior Fellow, she will be assisting Ambassador Richard Verma this semester on issues pertaining to Asia specifically India. Bushra loves languages and hopes she can continue studying them during her time at Georgetown.When she is not practicing the right way to pronounce Arabic letters, she can be seen sipping tea, googling cat pictures and fangirling everything Harry Potter. (Go Slytherin!).


Anne C. Richard – Spring 2018

Celia Buckman

Celia Buckman is a freshman in the SFS. She is from Glencoe, IL, and is passionate about issues affecting refugees globally. Previously, Celia served as a Teen Advisory for the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, where she worked to advocate for legislation to increase birth registration in developing countries, culminating in the passage of the Girls Count Act. She has tutored refugee and immigrant children in the US since 2013 and continues to do so at Georgetown.

 Katarina O’Regan

Katarina is a first year Master of Science in Foreign Service student. She completed her undergraduate studies at Fordham University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. While at Fordham, she spent six months in post-revolutionary Tunisia, conducting research on the effect of the democratic transition in the tourism industry and supporting AFRICOM-funded security training and humanitarian projects at the U.S. Embassy. She subsequently completed a one-year fellowship at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh and more recently worked for Partners in Health in Liberia to support the public healthcare system in the immediate aftermath of the Ebola Crisis. Katarina has also worked in the British Embassy in Washington’s Foreign and Security Policy Group and on the National Democratic Institute’s Gender, Women and Democracy Team. She is passionate about crafting ethical, effective humanitarian responses that address the needs of vulnerable populations.

Jesus Rodriguez

Jesus Rodriguez is a junior from Orlando, Fla. studying international politics and diplomacy in the School of Foreign Service. He is the managing editor of The Hoya, human rights and governance editor of the Journal of International Affairs, and last summer he worked as an editorial intern at the Council on Foreign Relations. A Jack Kent Cooke scholar, he is also interested in journalism, human rights, and issues around international immigration.


 Melissa Toufanian

Melissa Toufanian is a first-year student in the Master of Science in Foreign Service program. Before coming to Georgetown, Melissa worked at the Department of State from 2010 through 2017, holding positions in the Bureau of Public Affairs, the Office of the Spokesperson, and the Office of Refugee Admissions. While at the Department of State, Melissa helped to develop strategic communications strategies in support of Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic initiatives, including the Iran nuclear negotiations, reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, building of the global coalition against ISIS, and meetings of the International Syria Support Group. In the Office of Refugee Admissions, Melissa created an outreach plan to help better educate the public on the U.S. refugee admissions and security screening process. Her work at the State Department brought her to over 70 countries, working with dozens of U.S. Embassies and foreign governments. In her free time, Melissa enjoys volunteering as an ESL instructor at the Washington English Center. Melissa received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from George Washington University.