2015 participant gallery
Maritza Alarcón // Brooklyn, NY // I Am Happiest Book
Maritza R. Alarcón is writing her first book and it is about happiness! She has been featured on BuzzFeed for "21 Amazing Role Models For Ambitious Twentysomethings". She is featured as one of the "Women Who Make America" in the MAKER series for AOL & PBS. She was honored at Carnegie Hall for Glamour Magazine's "20 Amazing Young Women" ceremony. She has Bolivian and Salvadorean genes. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She recently moved to California and loves it.
Maritza’s MTP Project, “I Am Happiest Book,” will focus on developing her forthcoming book, a field guide to increasing one’s happiness. She will also be creating "Happy Hours" across the country to increase the level of happiness to "happiest" for the people she encounters on the journey.
You can follow Maritza’s journey on Twitter @maritzaalarcon and on Instagram @maritzaalarcon
Saja Al Quzweeni // Iraq // Urban Farming Techniques
Saja is a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Foreign Student from Iraq currently studying at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.
Saja’s MTP project will examine the best practices in urban agricultural and explore, in particular, the difference between urban agricultural practices across the northern and southern United States. The intention behind this study is to develop a comprehensive model of urban farming that could be utilized in different settings. This study will be a novel research in this field because of multi-city approach.
You can follow Saja’s journey on the Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project blog
Nicole Behnke // Milwaukee, WI // Should you stay or should you go?
A life-long resident of Wisconsin who moved to Milwaukee to attend UW-Milwaukee, Nicole serves as as the Event & Communications Director for NEWAukee, a social architecture firm that inspires a collision of all Milwaukee has to offer. In this role, she has developed a passion for seeing new businesses plant roots and reputable businesses continue to succeed. She has also worked with a variety of local brands on developing, implementing and refining social media and marketing strategy and planning events that range from nightly happy hours to week-long national conferences.
Nicole’s MTP project, “Should you stay or should you go?,” will explore the Millennial generation lifestyle across the United States and, in particular, the issue of talent flight on a national level compared to what Milwaukee experiences as a post-industrial, Midwestern city. Her ultimate goal is to create a review of key factors that Millennials look for when deciding where they want to put down roots and start establishing themselves.
You can follow Nicole’s journey on Twitter @nmbehnke and on Instagram @nmbehnke
Mohammed Behroozian // Afghanistan // Islamic Cultural Centers Across the American South
Mohammad is a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Foreign Student from Afghanistan currently studying Television Writing and Production at Boston University.
Mohammad’s MTP project focuses the state of Islamic cultural centers and mosques functioning across southern United States. By reviewing their work and impact, and how these centers assimilate into the larger communities surrounding them, this project aims to demonstrate the multiculturalism and coexistence that are major characteristics of American culture. Visuals and descriptive narratives being an integral part of this project, general audiences and audiences in Afghanistan in particular, will learn how Islam diversifies and adapts to conditions in the United States, a country they are closely tied to and unfortunately know so little about. The project will also advocate for the idea that peace and coexistence is feasible, and that diversity can be cherished, like it is in the United States. The end result of this project is a series of short videos and articles, in addition to active information sharing on social media platforms about Islamic culture in the US.
You can follow Mohammad’s journey on the Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project blog
Lydia Davey // San Francisco, CA // Regional Perspectives on Post-Traumatic Growth
Lydia is the founder of Clear PR, a startup that connects small businesses to a nationwide network of PR and marketing talent. She has more than a decade of experience in strategic communications; her entrepreneurial mindset, curiosity, and insights have been engaged by enterprise-level companies like General Mills, Purina, and Nike. She served as a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent for 8 years, and worked extensively throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Indiana University, and in 2015 graduated from Tradecraft, a highly selective program designed to train students for traction roles in high-growth startups.
For her MTP project, Lydia will interact with trauma-engaged communities throughout the nation, and share her learnings with students of a course on resilience that she is co-developing at University of California San Francisco.
You can follow Lydia’s journey on Twitter @lm_davey and Instagram @mizzdavey
Clotilde Dedecker // Los Angeles, CA // I’m Engaged
Clotilde is a native of Buffalo, NY currently based in Los Angeles, CA as she pursues an MBA-MSW at USC while working part-time as a therapist. Previously, Clotilde managed operations for Joan Hornig Jewelry, a New York-based philanthropic designer jewelry company. She now sits on the board of Circle of Women Inc., a non-profit she co-founded as an undergraduate at Harvard that works to increase access to education for girls in developing countries. Since its founding in 2006, Circle has grown to 14 chapters nationally with over 200 volunteers, servicing over 1,500 girls internationally with projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Malawi, and Kenya. This summer Clotilde will be working for Apple.
Clotilde’s MTP project, “I'm Engaged,” aims to create a dynamic, multi-media dialogue on the challenges facing Opportunity Youth (currently 6.7 million in the US) and the best practices combating youth unemployment and skills gaps.
You can follow Clotilde’s journey on Twitter @CDedecker and Instagram @blinkdedecker.
Katlyn Grasso // Hamburg, NY // GenHERation
Katlyn is a senior at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the founder and CEO of GenHERation. She is the inaugural recipient of the President’s Engagement Prize at Penn from Dr. Amy Gutmann, which provides graduating seniors with $150,000 to develop innovative projects that have the potential to change the world. She is the Managing Practice Leader of the Wharton Small Business Development Center, the Co-President of Wharton Ambassadors, and a member of the Wharton Venture Initiation Program. She has conducted international research on leadership development in high school girls. Her work has been featured in national media outlets, including Forbes, The Huffington Post Live, CBS Radio Los Angeles, SiriusXM Radio, Poets & Quants, Wharton International Business Review, and Wharton Magazine. She has been named to Seventeen Magazine’s list of “Real Girls Doing Amazing Things.”
Katlyn’s MTP project, “GenHERation,” is a female empowerment network for high school girls. Katlyn will use her MTP journey to prepare for an 10-city Summer Leadership Series that will begin in July.
You can follow Katlyn’s journey on Twitter at @KatlynGrasso
Randi Gloss // Washington, D.C. // GLOSSRAGS GOES THERE
Randi Gloss is a social entrepreneur, writer and activist committed to fighting and documenting injustices experienced by people of color. She engages this fight through GLOSSRAGS, a small business that specializes in creating one-off, limited edition designs that provide some sort of social commentary on issues at play within the world, be they social justice, institutions or popular culture. GLOSSRAGS’ advances its commitment to conscious consumerism by creating critically crafted designs that are catalysts for social activism and discourse and by protesting, marching and advocating for change.
Randi’s MTP Project, “GLOSSRAGS GOES THERE” is a ten day, six-city tour committed to community activism, engagement and outreach. Through partnerships with local minority-owned businesses, Randi plans to document the experiences of her social change apparel company’s customers and share stories about underreported stories of injustice nationwide.
Follow Randi’s journey on Twitter @RandiGloss and @GLOSSRAGS and Instagram @RandiGloss
Julian Ivann // San Francisco, CA // Rails Train Market
Julian is co-founder of The Assembly, an organization that helps local artists grow and sustain their small businesses by connecting them to the greater community. Assembly does this through initiatives, such as our flagship Black Market SF, which is an intimate, themed, monthly night market event that features local craft, food, and entertainment in San Francisco. Assembly also creates and runs pop-up shops in the Bay Area that promote local makers, and curates an online store that features well-designed products from the local community.
Julian’s MTP project, “Rails Train Market,” is an exploratory journey across the United States to research and discover how his company can help artists grow and sustain their local economies through the creation and expansion of our Markets. The aim of his project is to empower the next generation of artists and designers to share their stories and dreams across borders.
You can follow Julian's journey on Twitter @julianivann and on Instagram @julianivann
Maceo Keeling // Los Angeles, CA // Citizens Of Culture: Citizen Quest
Maceo “Paisley” Keeling established Citizens Of Culture as a place where creatives and critical thinkers could gather and discuss cultural and social issues of the day in salon style forums. A former soldier and Bronze Star Veteran awarded by the United States Special Operations Command, Maceo is a patriot at core. He believes each individual had the moral obligation to put forth their best self, not only for the betterment of our society, but for their own good as well. Citizens Of Culture, as well as his other endeavors, aims to inspire, challenge, educate, and empower, people to contribute positively to the cultures and communities they enjoy.
Maceo’s MTP project,”Citizens Of Culture: Citizen Quest,” seeks to engage and document local changemakers across America, and to understand their individual and collective needs. His goal is to determine the necessary tools, relationships, and resources needed to aid local millennial community organizers in their efforts to participate in the national dialogue.
You can follow Maceo’s journey on Twitter @maceopaisley and on Instagram @maceopaisley
Magdalena Leszko // Poland // Designing Friendly Communities for Individuals with Dementia
Magdalena is a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Foreign Scholar from Poland and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University conducting research on caregiver burden and dementia prevention.
Magdalena’s MTP project, “Designing Friendly Communities for Individuals with Dementia,” aims to educate individuals about dementia so they can serve as leaders in their communities and work with their communities to create healthier places for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
Her project works with local communities to assess the challenges dementia patients face in their daily lives. She intends to contribute to a better understanding of the obstacles they face by developing a white paper that outlines possible ways of improving circumstances for dementia patients.
You can follow Magdalena’s journey on the Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project blog
Nhlalala Mavundza // South Africa // Obesity in the Southern United States
Nhlalala is a U.S. State Department Fulbright Scholar from South Africa currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience, with a focus on the Neuroscience of obesity, at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
Nhlalala’s MTP project will examine the measures that different Southern cities have made to combat the rise in obesity. The project will look at the preventative programs that these cities have adopted to combat the rise in obesity. These programs could be school-cafeteria programs, safe walking trails, exercise programs, easy and affordable bike rentals, etc. The project will mainly be focused on the availability of resources to low-income families to assist in the prevention of obesity and other serious health implications.
You can follow Nhlalala’s journey on Instagram at @zoe_lala and on the Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project blog
Jose Rodrigo Moran Gamez // El Salvador // Storytelling for Youth Development
Rodrigo is a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Foreign Student from El Salvador currently completing a Master’s in International Sustainable Development at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Rodrigo, a 2013 recipient of a grant through the U.S. Department of State Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund, utilized the funding to create the Sivar Productions Project, a vocational training center for underserved youth in the City of San Salvador that focuses on multimedia video, digital image editing and digital drawing skills for violence prevention. He also served as the first Executive Director of the Municipal Youth Institute of the City of San Salvador, the first municipal authority dedicated exclusively to youth development in El Salvador.
Rodrigo's MTP research project will focus on storytelling as a qualitative monitoring and evaluation method for youth development projects. The research will focus primarily on innovative storytelling techniques and more specifically, digital storytelling. Using accessible, everyday tools, Rodrigo will collect stories and create a micro-documentary from his experience engaging with local storytellers and youth development organizations in MTP destinations
You can follow Jose Rodrigo’s journey on the Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project blog
Kalimah Priforce // Oakland, CA // Qeyno Labs
Kalimah is just a kid from Brooklyn making "hackathon" a household word in every community as Headmaster CEO of Qeyno Labs - a leader in harnessing the STEM interests of high potential youth from low-opportunity settings through their "Hackathon Academy," an immersive two to three-day school of entrepreneurship, rapid prototype development, and design thinking that culminates as a web or mobile app built by youth and their mentors. From providing Oakland with its first Startup Weekend to launching hackathons for Prince, Essence, and the White House's "My Brothers Keeper", hackathons powered by Qeyno are bringing tomorrow's talent into today's tech with an inclusive vision that truly lives up to Dr. King's dream. His work has been featured on the cover of USA Today, MSNBC, Essence Magazine, Dreamforce, KQED, NPR, PBS Newshour, Black Enterprise, CNN, Time.com, and was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change. Kalimah is a 2013 Echoing Green fellow, a 2014 StartingBloc Fellow, a College Board Professional Fellow, and Hive Global Leader.
Kalimah’s MTP project, will be the launch of two new Hackathon Academies - the first of their kind for Qeyno Labs. The Gathering of Nations Hackathon will focus on Native youth on and off reservation communities from around the country and will take place at the Native American Charter Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in Brooklyn New York, an UbuntuHack between youth of color and NYPD officers working in teams to build apps that hack dehumanization.
You can follow Kalimah’s journey on Twitter @priforce
Clara Ritger // Washington, D.C. // The Great American Cooking Story
Clara Ritger is a multimedia storyteller who is passionate about documentary filmmaking and food. She is an experienced producer, editor, scriptwriter and voiceover artist, and an amateur chef. She works at Green Buzz Agency, a video production company based in Washington, D.C. Clara speaks at conferences on her work and the role of video in news media and advertising. She is a former Congressional reporter for National Journal, where she covered international affairs and the Affordable Care Act. Her byline has also appeared in USA Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Indianapolis Star. She is a graduate of Notre Dame.
Clara’s MTP project, "The Great American Cooking Story," is a documentary web series on the role of restaurants in revitalizing neighborhoods. Clara plans to create six episodes of "The Great American Cooking Story," one from each city where the train stops. The episodes will be released in the summer of 2015.
Priya Satiani // Los Angeles, CA // MTP: The Movie
Priya is a Partner at Genesis Entertainment, a LA-based talent management company catering to clients in the television, film, and internet industries. She is also a partner a Botanme, a subscription-based floral delivery company utilizing locally grown and seasonally happy flowers.
Priya’s MTP project, “MTP: The Movie,” is designed to gather research that will aid Priya in developing a feature film about MTP that walks Millennials through the journey of finding their way in life. Priya intends to raise funds for development via crowdfunding and have the film in production by the summer of 2016. Her goal is for her as-yet untitled film to be a movie that that changes the world and the way we view travel.
You can follow Priya’s journey on Twitter @priyasatiani and on Instagram @priyasatiani
Pichleap Sok // Cambodia // Faces of Women in Tech
Pichleap is a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Foreign Student from Cambodia currently completing a Master’s in Software Engineering at Loyola University Chicago.
Pichleap’s MTP project focuses on promoting the Faces of Women in Tech to help inspire young girls to enter into this field. Faces of Women in Tech will spotlight as many women in tech as possible. During the MTP journey, Pichleap will meet with local women in technology to interview them with a focus on the difficulties they faced before reaching their current positions and how they overcame obstacles. The content of each interview will be posted on the Faces of Women in Tech website along with each participant’s portrait, which will be taken during the interview. Faces of Women in Tech is intended to become a safe space where all women in technology can come together to build a strong online community of advice, inspiration, and motivation with the hope of attracting more women to the field.
Sankara Subramanian // India // Discover America
Sankara is an Indian travel blogger and consultant. His blog, "BE ON THE ROAD," is one of the top travel blogs in India.
Sankara's MTP project, "Discover America," will focus on discovering the most authentic and unique aspects of MTP destination with global audiences and potential visitor to the United States.
You can follow Sankara's journey on Twitter @sankaracs
Erin Spencer // Washington, D.C. // The Invasive Species Initiative
Erin is a Production Assistant for National Geographic Travel and Program Coordinator for the Don't Release Me Campaign with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. Erin graduated from the College of William & Mary with a BS in Ecology and Marine Science. In 2013, Erin was awarded a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant to study local responses to invasive lionfish in the Florida Keys. She has since conducted an honors thesis studying species association between lionfish and non-prey species, as well as lionfish research in Curacao. Subsequently, she received another Young Explorers Grant to study community-based invasive species management in Fiji.
Erin’s MTP project will highlight creative management solutions to invasive species across the United States. She plans to interview and photograph locals who are taking the problem into their own hands, one invasive species at a time. Erin’s project will culminate with a photographic exhibition, and series of short videos and articles.
You can follow Erin’s journey on Twitter @etspencer and Instagram @etspencer
Brittany Van Ness // Washington, D.C. // The Nourish & Thrive Initiative
Brittany Van Ness is an event coordinator at the Robert H. Smith School of Business who manages logistics for events with upwards of 2,000 guests. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, it became clear that there is a missing link in cancer care between accurate nutrition and health guidance. With her background of translating plans into tangible results, Ms. Van Ness will apply her skills to the disjointed environment surrounding cancer wellness services. Her mission is to create an accessible online resource to help patients take control of the health variables within their personal power.
Brittany’s MTP project, “The Nourish & Thrive Initiative,” aims to open a conversation about health and nutrition practices for cancer patients and produce an online toolkit designed to lead cancer patients and the public to better health.
You can follow Brittany’s journey via Twitter @NourishMTP on Instagram @Brittany.VanNess and on Facebook www.facebook.com/NourishThriveInitiative
Matthew Verlinich // Pittsburgh, PA // TechShop: Build your Dreams Here!
Matthew is General Manager of TechShop Pittsburgh, where he is responsible for the operational and financial management of the vibrant TechShop maker space. Matthew received a B.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics and a M.S. in Engineering Science from Penn State University where he was a Teaching and Research Assistant. At Penn State, Matthew designed and fabricated novel biodiesel reactors (computer controlled high-intensity ultrasonic resonators embedded in microwave chambers) for a start-up company. After graduation he worked as a Mechanical Engineer for Westinghouse Electric Company.
Matthew’s MTP project, “TechShop: Build your Dreams Here!,” will use MTP to use MTP as a platform for gaining trans-regional perspectives on the Maker Movement while simultaneously improving his own ability to help TechShop maintain its leadership role in the global maker community.
You can follow Matthew’s journey on Twitter @MattVerlinich and Instagram @MattVerlinich
Carley Wahlborg // Baton Rouge, LA // Generation Leadership
Carley Wahlborg is a Louisiana native with a mission to create opportunities for young girls and women through the development of leadership skills and self-confidence. She serves as the events and communication director for Girls on the Run South Louisiana. Wahlborg also volunteers as the program director for Louisiana Youth Seminar. Her other hobbies include long-distance running and cheering on her alma mater, the LSU tigers.
Carley’s MTP project, “Generation Leadership,” aims to spark a collaborative movement that inspires the next generation of women to activate the leader within. Clotilde will ask women in each MTP locality to reflect on their career path and background in leadership. The conversation will challenge the women to form a plan to involve and mentor young women in the community using their talents and careers.
You can follow Carley’s journey on Twitter @carley_wahlb and on Instagram @carley_wahlborg
Lauren Zelek // Washington, D.C. // Today's Multicultural Millennial Generation
Lauren is a "Third Culture Kid" (TCK) who spent 7 years growing up and attending the International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, Japan. Lauren’s education and work experience is in Global Marketing, Management, Communications, and Video Production. She is currently CMO and head of TCK initiatives for UYD Media.
For her MTP project, Lauren will be visiting six American institutions of higher education to interview international students and administrators about the experiences of international students in the United States. These interviews will be compiled into mini-documentary series that will be featured on UYD's website.
You can follow Lauren’s journey on Twitter @laurenzelek & @uydmedia and Instagram @laurenzelek & @uydmag
Nathan Werksman // Hermosa Beach, CA // Operation Benjamin
Nathan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude in 2013. Having spent the past two years working in marketing at PepsiCo, he will begin law school this fall.
Nathan’s MTP project will investigate innovative ways in which local Jewish communities engage young people. He will then share his findings of best practices to Jewish communities across America.
You can follow Nathan’s journey on Twitter @nathanwerksman.
Marzena Zukowska // Washington, DC // Opportunity Pipeline
Marzena leads communications strategy for the Changemakers team at Ashoka. A Washington, DC-based community activist, Marzena designs and leads social justice events, such as film screenings, neighborhood discussions, and fundraisers for local advocacy groups. Recognizing the need for more immigrant voices in the burgeoning social sector, Marzena is launching Opportunity Pipeline, a program designed to inspire, support, and connect the next generation of social innovators solving the most pressing immigration challenges in the United States. Before Ashoka, Marzena was a physics and foreign policy double-major at Georgetown University. She is a freelance writer, photographer, and videographer.
Marzena’s MTP project, “Opportunity Pipeline,” seeks to create a more equitable and inclusive immigration system by supporting the next generation of social innovators solving the most pressing challenges faced by immigrant communities in the United States. Through MTP, Marzena hopes to launch the first Opportunity Pipeline Fellowship program this July.
You can follow Marzena’s journey on Twitter @MarzenaZukowska and on Instagram @marz_zukowska