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Pete Souza / Official White House Photograph

The scholars hail from 12 different countries and have demonstrated prior experience with active community engagement on issues such as sustainable design and mobilizing youth leaders.

The first cohort of Obama Foundation Scholars to be hosted by Columbia will arrive this fall to participate in a year-long program to promote civic engagement and improve public policy, the University announced Thursday.

Unveiled last spring, Columbia World Projects calls for faculty members to participate in targeted research to develop solutions for real-world problems. This March, University President Lee Bollinger announced that Columbia will host an annual group of Obama Foundation scholars from around the world to engage in academic and experiential learning in partnership with CWP. In the fall, CWP will move into its new headquarters at the Forum building on the Manhattanville campus.

Hailing from 12 countries, the scholars have all demonstrated prior experience with active community engagement through various global organizations that focus on issues such as sustainable design and mobilizing youth leaders. During their year at the University, for which they will be on full scholarship, scholars will also take classes taught by Columbia faculty and have access to broader opportunities throughout the city.

Despite CWP’s call for broad faculty participation, the initiative has faced scrutiny from some professors in Arts and Sciences who say they do not understand how their work will fit into the goals of the initiative.

Applications for next year’s scholars will be available in October of this year.

Read the full list of scholars below:

Alice Barbe - France

CEO and Co-founder, SINGA France

Rumbidzai Chisenga - South Africa/Zimbabwe

Program Manager, Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS)

Gabriela Galilea - Paraguay

CEO and Founder, Okimo Vision Ltd.

Ana Maria Gonzalez-Forero - Colombia

Chief Sustainability Officer, Fundación por la Educación Multidimensional (FEM)

Hong Hoang - Vietnam

Founder and Executive Director, CHANGE

Omezzine Khelifa - Tunisia

Founder and CEO, Mobdiun – Creative Youth

Pavel Kounchev - Bulgaria

Co-founder, Managing Director, Time Heroes Foundation

Co-founder, Chair of the Board, Fine Acts Foundation

Peter Ndayihereje - Burundi

Community Engagement Program Manager, Village Health Works

Ndansi Elvis Nukam - Cameroon

Founder and President, Unite for Health Foundation

Oluseun Onigbinde - Nigeria

Lead Partner, BudgIT

Vanessa Paranjothy - Singapore

Co-Founder, Freedom Cups

Trisha Shetty - India

Founder and CEO, SheSays, India | @ColumbiaSpec

Obama Foundation Columbia World Projects President Bollinger
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