Meet UConn’s Rhodes & Marshall Scholarship Nominees

UConn’s 2018-19 Rhodes and Marshall Scholarship Nominees. From left, Elizabeth Charash (CLAS ’18), Akshayaa Chittibabu (CLAS ’19), Odia Kane (CLAS ’19), and Jessica Weaver (CLAS ’19). 


The Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships is pleased to introduce UConn’s 2018-19 nominees for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships.  Congratulations (and good luck!) to these outstanding young leaders.


Elizabeth Charash (CLAS ’18) is a history major nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship. She is an avid reader, consumer of political satire and tea connoisseur. She is from Newtown, CT, where she is involved with gun violence prevention advocacy following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary her junior year. She has studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa where she worked with community members in an area with high levels of gun violence. Her time in Cape Town in combination with her high school activism have shaped the research she is currently conducting on the differences in urban and suburban gun violence prevention policy and activism. Elizabeth has interned in the offices of Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Senator Chris Murphy, as well as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She is also founder and president of UConn Against Gun Violence, where she seeks to inform her community about the complexities of gun violence.  Winner of the 2016 Newman Civic Fellowship and a 2017 Finalist for the Marshall, Mitchell and Truman Scholarships, Elizabeth is also the recipient of an IDEA grant to continue her ongoing research on the “Faces of the Gun Violence Prevention Movement in Connecticut” with Sociology Professor Mary Bernstein.  She is currently pursuing a MA in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queens University Belfast, with later plans to pursue a joint JD and PhD continuing her work to inform and take action to mitigate gun violence.


Akshayaa Chittibabu (CLAS ’19), from Shrewsbury, MA, is a senior studying biological sciences and sociology at the University of Connecticut as a STEM Scholar.  A 2018 Truman Scholar, Akshayaa is nominated for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships.  She has worked on implementing better health education for rural women in South India as a Holster Scholar, assessed barriers in American healthcare as a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow, and studied Korean in Gwangju, South Korea through the U.S. Department of State. Currently, Akshayaa serves as the Vice Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and Senator for Multiculturalism and Diversity in UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government.  She is an editorial assistant at the peer-reviewed journal Social Science & Medicine and is conducting her thesis research with Prof. Audrey Chapman at UConn School of Medicine’s Department of Community Medicine and Healthcare. On campus, she leads Gita studies for undergraduate Hindus at the UConn Hindu Students Council, and volunteers as a community health educator through the Collegiate Health Service Corps. Her investment in global health has led her to chairing Connecticut’s first student-run global health conference, serving on medical development trips to Panama and Ecuador, and advocating for global malaria and polio programs as a UN Foundation Global Health Fellow. In the future, she aims to build and promote innovative health policies, and pursue a fulfilling career in public service as a physician.


Odia Kane (CLAS ’19) is a senior Honors student from New Haven, Connecticut with origins from Guinea, West Africa. She studies Cognitive Science, Political Science, and Public Health, and through these disciplines, aspires to be a politician.  During her time at UConn, she was a Rowe Scholar, a New England Scholar, and served two terms on the Executive Boards of Sisters Inspiring Sisters and the African Students’ Association. When she is not in class or clubs, she works as a third-year tutor at the University Writing Center.  Over the summers, she has interned at the non-profit New Haven Promise, participated in the Summer Health Professions Education Program, and worked as a research intern at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Odia plans to dedicate her life’s work to uplifting and protecting vulnerable populations.  She is nominated for the Marshall Scholarship.


Jessica Weaver (CLAS ’19)  is a senior Honors student from Newington, Connecticut studying Political Science, Human Rights, and Business. A Babbidge Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa inductee, Jessica is nominated for the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. Jessica is dedicated to creating avenues for women to gain more representation in both the economy and political sphere. She has interned for Congressman John Larson as part of the UConn Honors Congressional Internship as well as at the Connecticut State Treasurer’s Office where she worked on UN Principle of Responsible Investment reports and helped create financial literacy initiatives for the State. Her internships inspired her to create policy change regarding financial literacy and led her to create a petition to institute financial literacy courses in all public higher education institutions and secondary schools in Connecticut. She currently serves as President of Partners in Health Engage, where she has lobbied members of Congress to increase global health funding with a particular focus on maternal and child health. Jessica served as an Alan R. Bennett Research Assistant in the political science department, and is currently researching how female representation impacts the legislative success of women’s issues legislation in state legislatures for her honors thesis. In the future, she plans to pursue a JD/PhD and work to empower female representation in organizations like the UN Women.


To learn more about these and other nationally-competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities, visit the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships and click “Talk to an Advisor.”


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