Bowie's brightest: A roundup of young scholars, emerging leaders with local roots

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Aleksandr "Alek" Kuzmenchuk of Bowie will graduate in May 2024 with a 3.98 GPA, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Data Science. Photo courtesy of Omicron Delta Kappa

Aleksandr "Alek" Kuzmenchuk, an international relations major in the Circle honor society at William & Mary, is graduating this month with a 3.98 GPA. He will work for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee before heading to India on a Fulbright-Nehru fellowship. 

Amina Rauf is graduating magna cum laude this May from Albright College. 

Nishant Mada, a freshman at McDaniel College, entered the National Security and Global Fellows program this academic year. 

That's just a few of the top college students from the Bowie area. Read on to learn more about these and other inspiring college students who hail from Bowie. 

    (Source: Merit Pages)



    Amina Rauf, a graduate of Bowie High School, will earn a Master of Science degree, magna cum laude, in Athletic Leadership from Albright College this May.

    Taylor D. Heflin of Bowie is earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albright College. A graduate of Annapolis Area Christian School, Heflin majored in Crime and Justice. 

    They will celebrate graduation on Sunday, May 12, 2024. The Commencement Ceremony speakers include award-winning theatre, television and film actress Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Albright class of 1992) and graduating senior Taisha N. Charles '24. The event will be livestreamed on Albright's commencement website. Albright College is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.



    McDaniel College student Nishant Manda of Bowie is one of several new students selected for the college's National Security and Global Fellows program. Manda is a freshman Political Science and Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies major. The National Security Fellows Program pairs with any program of study and allows students to specialize in a national security interest, such as interstate conflict, intra-state political violence, cybersecurity, ethics, and human rights. Selected through a competitive application process, students for the program are recognized as National Security Fellows upon completion of the program. Fellows receive a $250 grant to spend on a National Security-related event or project during their junior or senior year. They also benefit from dedicated National Security advising and guidance and may participate in Foreign Service Preparatory sessions.

    Maya Mitchell of Bowie was among the 10 master’s and doctoral students selected as 2023-24 Hall Fellows at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Selected on the basis of merit and academic potential, doctoral students receive a $20,000 stipend and master’s students receive a $16,000 stipend. Mitchell earned her B.S. in civil engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is pursuing an M.S. in industrial and systems engineering at NC A&T. She aspires to earn a Ph.D. in engineering after gaining work experience. Her ultimate goal is to become a professor and contribute to academia.



    Joshua Smith of Bowie was welcomed into the Honors College at the College of Charleston at the start of the 2023-24 academic year. A graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Smith joined a community of highly motivated Honors students who live and learn together while pursuing their own unique interests. Honors students at the College of Charleston benefit from personalized mentorship, access to specialized opportunities, and small, seminar-style classes. Students also participate in high impact experiences like faculty-led research, internships, and community engagement to help them maximize their time at college. The Honors College at the College of Charleston has been recognized as one of the top 40 public university honors programs in the country by Inside Honors. More information: honors.cofc.edu.

    Junau Louis-Jean of Bowie was among the 25 University of Scranton students inducted into Upsilon Phi Delta, the national honor society for graduate and undergraduate students in healthcare administration programs. Students must have a minimum overall grade point average of 3.5 for induction. The University's chapter of the honor society was established in 2002. Louis-Jean is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Health Administration degree at this Jesuit university located in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

    Aleksandr "Alek" Kuzmenchuk was named the 2024 Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) National Leader of the Year for Athletics. This award is one of the highest honors presented each year to an undergraduate member of the ODK honor society, known as the Circle. Kuzmenchuk is a 2022 initiate of the William & Mary Circle in Williamsburg, Virginia. He will graduate in May 2024 with a 3.98 GPA, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Data Science. After graduation, he will spend the summer working at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee before traveling to India on a Fulbright-Nehru fellowship for student research. Kuzmenchuk will then return to a job in strategy & consulting at Accenture Federal Services.

    After three years on the William & Mary Division I men's gymnastics team, Kuzmenchuk served as captain his senior year, leading a group of 18 elite athletes. In 2022, he received the NCAA's ELITE 90 award, which recognizes student-athletes with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships. He led the team's community service efforts his junior year.

    In addition to his athletic pursuits, Kuzmenchuk is the editor-in-chief for William & Mary's Journal of International Studies and served as a research assistant for the William & Mary geoLab. He worked as a student consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense's Innovation for Defense program and as an intern for the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. He also worked as a research assistant for the Global Research Institute and a database assistant for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    During the 2023-24 academic year, several students from the Bowie area were initiated into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines:

    Kareem Fernandez, University of Louisville

    Tisha Featherstone, University of Maryland, College Park

    Ciara Kyler, University of Maryland, College Park

    Caitlin Conn, University of Maryland, College Park

    Gerald Markey, University of Maryland, College Park

    Sylvia Koonce, University of Maryland Global Campus

    Dexter Clouden, University of Maryland Global Campus

    Lolita Hampton, University of Maryland Global Campus

    Ian Kendall, University of Maryland Global Campus

    Esly Nkongme, University of Maryland Global Campus

    Tatjana Rodriguez, University of Maryland Global Campus

    Quentin Parker, Salisbury University

    They are among approximately 25,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

    Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 and today has more than 1.5 million members initiated into the honor society. Some of the organization's notable members include former President Jimmy Carter, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, novelist John Grisham and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley. More information: www.phikappaphi.org.


    The Bowie Sun will announce more college graduates and young achievers as the lists are made available from Merit Pages and other sources. Questions? Click the Contact Us link below.


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