John Jay Applauds Our 2019 Scholarship, Fellowship and Grant Winners

John Jay Applauds Our 2019 Scholarship, Fellowship and Grant Winners

John Jay Applauds Our 2019 Scholarship, Fellowship and Grant Winners

This past 2018–2019 academic year was an extraordinary one for John Jay students and alumni. In May, the largest class in John Jay’s history graduated from the College, joining our 65,000+ alumni network. We also saw several of our students and alumni win scholarships, fellowships, and grants, including: Fulbright Program, which gives students the chance to study or conduct research in other countries; Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, a three-year program that provides funded summer internships with nonprofit, for-profit, and government agencies; the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation Scholarship, awarded to undergraduate students majoring in Forensic Psychology; Urban Fellows Program, a nine-month program where students can get hands-on experience working in New York City Mayoral offices and City agencies with current decision makers; the National Science Foundation, that funds research and education in science and engineering; Immigrant Justice Corps, a two-year fellowship given to recent graduates who have shown commitment to providing legal service to people in marginalized communities; American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Legal Fellowship, a one-year fellowship for recent law school graduates to work with union-side lawyers on multiple issues; and the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a partnership between CIEE and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (PENN CMSI), which increases diversity in study abroad programs by covering the program fees and travel costs. Our students and alumni come from diverse backgrounds and bring with them different life experiences. They know the value of hard work and have the determination to succeed. They make us proud every day.

Natalie Gordon
Natalie Gordon

National Science Foundation-Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant
Natalie Gordon ’21 is currently a graduate student in the Psychology and Law Ph.D. program. She came to New York City from Los Angeles three years ago and is now researching bias during preliminary juror examinations. “My goal is to create an effective intervention that will enable jurors to more accurately respond to the questions about their ability to be fair and impartial in the face of pretrial publicity.” As a result of her research, Gordon is now a National Science Foundation-Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (NSF-DDRIG) award winner under the Law and Social Sciences program. “When I first started graduate school, I learned of this dissertation award and hoped that someday I would be able to submit a proposal. Having won this award gives me confidence in my research and in myself as a graduate student,” she said. Now, Gordon is looking forward to graduating with her Ph.D. and working with attorneys or the courts, conducting research related to juries or legal decisions.


Derek Casarrubias
Derek Casarrubias

J. Edgar Hoover Foundation Scholarship
Derek Casarrubias ’21, winner of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation Scholarship, is the first in his family to attend college. “My mom and dad immigrated from El Salvador and Mexico, respectively. I was born in Manhattan, but I was raised in Queens for the majority of my life,” he said. “Coincidentally, I was actually born in the hospital right across from John Jay, which makes me believe that I’m meant to be at the College.” Now, heading into his junior year, Casarrubias—a Forensic Science major, minoring in Psychology and a PRISM student—is ready to begin research at Syracuse University’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer program. In the future he hopes to use the skills he learns at John Jay to solve crimes. “I want to be a criminalist and work in a crime lab,” said Casarrubias. “Without John Jay, I wouldn’t be closer to reaching my dreams.”


Amanda Zhu
Amanda Zhu

Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship
Amanda Zhu ’22, a native New Yorker and Economics major, won the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. “I’m so grateful to be a JK Watson Fellow because it has, in the last few months alone, expanded my perspective and given me insight as to what I’d like to do after my time at John Jay,” said Zhu. “The other Fellows are very inspiring and push me to work hard with everything I do. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Open Society Foundations and was able to learn more about the nonprofit and human rights world. I can’t wait to see what my next two Watson summers look like.” Zhu hopes to use the knowledge that she gains as a member of the program to not only further her study on the intersectionality between economics and climate change, but to attend law school to influence environmental or urban policy.


Jonathan Peñuela
Jonathan Peñuela

Urban Fellows Program
Jonathan Peñuela, a recent John Jay graduate, Political Science major and a Macaulay Honors student, is an aspiring policy writer interested in designing programs for the benefit of marginalized communities. “Growing up in a mixed-status household, I developed ideas of justice that differed from the law, which led me to immigration advocacy,” said Peñuela. As a student at John Jay, Peñuela, interned at The Bronx Defenders, Safe Horizon and the Organization for Aid to Refugees. And, while he knew that he wanted to help others, a pivotal moment came during his internship at the City’s Administrator’s Office in Oakland, California. “I was a part of the team developing a ‘Healthy Housing’ rental housing inspection policy in Oakland. It was there that I learned of how different institutions intersect to create unique challenges for vulnerable communities,” he said. It was this internship, along with his John Jay education, that taught him about intersectionality, power and liberation, ultimately leading Peñuela to apply for the Urban Fellows Program. With the help of the Program, Peñuela is working towards his goal of writing policies that benefit marginalized communities.

Here is a full list of John Jay’s 2019 Student and Alumni Awardees:

Fulbright Award

Houssaynatou Barry ’18 – Will study Women’s Educational Development in Ghana.

Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

Aaron Fernando ’21 – Advocacy Intern at the TransitCenter, New York, NY
Musarrat Lamia ’20 – Refugee Resettlement intern at Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), San Antonio, Texas
Amanda Zhu ’21 – Justice Initiative intern with the Open Society Foundations, New York, NY

J. Edgar Hoover Foundation Scholarship

Nickolas Almodovar ’20
Derek Casarrubias ’21
Nicole Centazzo ’19
Rixsi Herrera ’19

Urban Fellows Finalists

Cataydra Brown ’19
Jonathan Penuela ’19

National Science Foundation

Melanie Close ’20
Andrew Evelo ’19
Natalie Gordon ’21
Mawia Khogal ’19

National Science Foundation STEM Scholarship Recipients

Harrison Fernandez 19
Marlen Ramirez 19
Pak Harry Tejada 19

Immigrant Justice Corps Fellowship

Eduardo Garcia Castañeda 19

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Legal Fellowship

Johnny Derogene 15

Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship

John (Anthony) François 21