2023 Award Winners
We are pleased to share this year’s scholarship & award winners. When available, quotes and biographies of this impressive group are provided below. We wish them the best as they continue their academic pursuits at Boston University. Congratulations!
BU Women's Guild Scholarship
Phoebe Brosnan (GRS)
“I am honored to be a recipient of the Boston University Women’s Guild Award. This award has helped make my dissertation possible. I am grateful for the members of the Boston University Women’s Guild and their mission of supporting women pursuing graduate degrees.”
Phoebe Brosnan is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. She holds a BA in English and creative writing from Barnard College and an MA in psychology from Boston University. Her research focuses on developing family interventions utilizing yoga and mindfulness to target child anxiety.
BU Women's Guild Women of Color Circle Award
Miracle Cariaga (SAR)
“The one person who will never leave us, whom we will never lose, is ourself. Learning to love our female selves is where our search for love must begin.”
― Bell Hooks, Communion: The Female Search for Love
My name is Miracle Cariaga and I am currently finishing up my first year graduate student in the M.S. Speech-Language Pathology program. I look forward to focusing my future occupation towards empowering others through communication. Being from California, I am thankful to be able to be here, in Boston, learning from brilliant instructors and supervisors, but also to be exploring a new city. I am a proud and resilient first generation graduate student and I live every day full of gratitude.
Dr. Beverly Brown Award
Laura Brubaker-Wittman (GRS)
“It is a great honor to have received the Dr. Beverly Brown Award from the BU Women’s Guild. I am so grateful for the women who have been my mentors on my academic journey, and I feel that doing the same for others is truly my life’s work.”
Laura Brubaker-Wittman is a biological anthropology doctoral candidate. Her research examines the relationships built between humans and orangutans by measuring orangutan stress hormones, recording orangutan behavior, and doing participant-observation with Indonesian field assistants. She hopes her work can bring together science and conservation to help protect orangutans and support local communities. Laura holds a master’s degree in sustainable development and policy advocacy from the School for International Training and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado.
Katherine Connor McLaughlin Award
Natalie Darst Xia (CFA)
“My sincere gratitude to BUWG and the BU Women’s Council members for their generous support. I am honored to receive the BUWG Katherine Connor McLaughlin Award that allows me to work administratively and to perform at the 2023 Spoleto Festival USA and the Fontainebleau Schools of Music and Fine Arts.”
Natalie Darst Xia is a SAG-AFTRA Foundation grant recipient and regularly performs in France and the US. She is a violinist and administrator at the Fontainebleau Schools of Music and Fine Arts and returned to the 2023 Spoleto Festival USA as a violin fellow and the Orchestra Personnel Management Assistant. She performed in festivals including Sarasota, Aspen, and NYSOS at Carnegie Hall. Natalie served as Concertmaster of the Spoleto, Mannes, and BU Symphony Orchestras. At BU, Natalie is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in Violin where she works with Lucia Lin (Boston Symphony Orchestra.)
Florence Engle Randall Fiction Prize
Helena Duncan (GRS)
“It is an honor to receive this award, which will provide valuable support as I graduate and complete my first novel. Thank you sincerely to the MFA fiction faculty, the Women’s Guild, and Ms. Randall’s estate for facilitating this prize.”
Helena Duncan is an MFA in Creative Writing candidate, teaching fellow, and Deutsch Fellow at Boston University, where she was awarded the 2023 Saul Bellow Prize in Fiction and a Leslie Epstein Global Fellowship in Fiction.
Katie McHugh (CAS)
“As someone who has always looked to femininity for strength, I am honored to receive this award, which will aid me immensely as I establish my voice as a female writer. I hope that my words will continue to advocate for women’s empowerment and justice.”
Katie McHugh is a writer from Long Island, New York. She has been accepted into the dual bachelor’s/master’s degree program for English. Upon graduation in 2024, Katie aspires to work as an editor for a period of time before applying to MFA programs across the country. Her work has recently appeared in several of BU’s literary magazines, including The Beacon, Palimpsest, and The Chimaera. Katie would like to thank the BU Women’s Guild for their recognition, and the late Ruth Levine and Stewart Randall for their generosity and commitment to this incredible community.
BU Women's Council Scholarship
Alexandra Bayer (GRS)
“I am grateful to be a recipient of the BUWC Scholarship. Your generosity will allow me t0 finish my dissertation this summer and graduate in the fall. At a critical time in my project, this award will allow me to keep my son in daycare. It is empowering to feel support from other women at BU!”
Alexandra Bayer (GRS) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion. Her dissertation analyzes how American Catholics use the presence of Muslims in the United States as a means of constructing their own identities vis-à-vis the construction of the Other. She examines how white American Catholic narratives about Muslims in the United States inform, or are informed by, larger American discourses of race, gender, class, and citizenship. Beyond graduate school, she hopes to work in a career that prioritizes positive societal change.
Federica Bocchi (CAS)
“Indulge your passion for science…but let your science be human, and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. Be a philosopher; but amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” –David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”
Federica is a Ph.D. candidate in the philosophy department at Boston University. She specializes in philosophy of science. Her research focuses on the epistemic and methodological issues of measuring biodiversity as well as the ethics of conservation science.
Fatimah Bouderdaben (GRS)
“I am so honored to be selected for this award. This scholarship enables me to go on a study abroad where I will engage in an immersive Spanish program for 2 months. Learning Spanish will aid my research that engages with Spanish-speaking communities and my mentorship of Spanish-speaking individuals.”
Fatimah Bouderdaben is a first-year doctoral student studying biological anthropology and completed her MA in Forensic Anthropology at Texas State University. Her current research explores the effect of testosterone on transmasculine individuals undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Her research interests include trans-inclusive academia, forensic anthropology, the evolution of human sex differences, and EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) efforts in academia. Fatimah is also a mentor and enjoys her role as a mentor and hopes to incorporate mentorship throughout her academic career.
Viola Del Bono (ENG)
“I am thrilled and honoured to receive the BU Women’s Council Award. I am really grateful that BU believed in my efforts and this generous offer will help me pursuing my goals. I hope to be an inspiration for young girls to follow their dreams!”
Viola is a first year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering. She completed her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Biomedical Engineering in University of Pisa, Italy. Her research is focused on Medical Robotics, and her goal is to develope novel robotic tools and technologies that will enable a better and more accessible healthcare. As a first-generation college student, she also volunteers in promoting STEM disciplines to women and minorities.
Ashley Gomes (WHEELOCK)
“I am beyond thankful to have been chosen as an award recipient from the BU Women’s Guild. I made the career change to teaching just a few short years ago and have been on the grind ever since! This award will help lessen the financial burden of this career change and is much appreciated!”
Ashley is currently a Wellness teacher at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School and has worked there for 5 years, teaching the last 3. Ashley is the varsity girls basketball assistant coach and a faculty advisor for my school’s Racial Climate Community Group. Ashley coaches basketball outside of the school season at camps and clinics, and during AAU season. In the past, Ashley has worked at a middle school, residential school and Boys & Girls clubs and is very passionate about working with young people and preparing them for the future! This is their first year at BU, working toward a Master’s in Education.
Julia Grable (SAR)
“I am honored to have been selected to receive this award! I am so grateful to the Boston University Women’s Guild. This scholarship will help me finance my education and allow me to engage more with the community through volunteering. Thank you for making this possible!”
Julia Grable (SAR) is a graduate student clinician originally from Ellicott City, Maryland. She is completing Boston University’s Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. As a future speech-language pathologist, she is passionate about helping others meet their communication goals. She enjoys working with adult and pediatric populations. Julia is a self proclaimed “life long learner,” and strives to learn something new every day. In her free time, you can find Julia running around the Charles River, reading, and volunteering.
Sümeyra Güneş (GRS)
“I am deeply honored to receive this award and incredibly grateful to the BU Women’s Guild for supporting my research in this field… Thank you!”
Sümeyra Güneş is an Anthropology PhD candidate at Boston University. Her research focuses on the entitlement that makes an identity joke possible; the punitive/legal, social, and professional consequences of these jokes; and the boundary-crossing/boundary-making practices of stand-up comedy in Istanbul. Although her research is based in Turkey, it has broader theoretical relevance to the ways we think about the workings of humor and offense in politically fraught contexts. Sümeyra holds a B.A. in Literature from Boğaziçi University and M.A. in Cultural Studies from Sabancı University.
Margarita Guzman Ramirez (LAW)
“I am deeply honored and grateful to have been selected to receive the BU Women’s Council Award 2023, this opportunity has been a great joy for my fellow masters and professors at BU School of Law and I thank them for all their support and patience. Many thanks to the Women’s Guild.”
Margarita Guzman Ramirez is a Colombian, a lawyer and specialist in criminal law, a professor, and an international speaker. Currently, Margarita is a candidate for LL.M. in American Law at BU School of Law and a LL.M. representative for the BU Latin American Law Student Association in the Class of 2023. In addition, Margarita is a former legal volunteer in prisons in Colombia and co-author of books and articles.
Adna Jaganjac (SPH)
“I am deeply honored to be selected for the Boston University Women’s Council Award. It is so important to recognize women’s contributions and create communities to promote their pursuits. To my own community, thank you for your support and congratulations to all the awardees!”
Adna Jaganjac (SPH) holds a Bachelors in Psychology and English from Emory University. She is currently a MPH candidate in the School of Public Health, with a functional certificate in Healthcare Management. In her current graduate studies, she is grateful to be able to pursue opportunities that merge her interests in health, psychology, and writing. In her career, she seeks to improve quality and equity within healthcare delivery systems and increase literacy around mental health especially.
Khadija El Karfi Joss (GRS)
“I am honored and grateful to have been awarded the BUWC scholarship, which will support my research on the under-researched legacies of slavery, racialization, and anti-Black racism in North Africa and the Middle East.”
Khadija El Karfi Joss is a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University whose research interests encompass a broad range of topics related to North Africa and the Middle East, with a particular focus on Francophone literature and culture. Her work extends beyond Morocco and includes a deep examination of the MENA region’s under-researched legacies of slavery, racialization, and anti-Black racism. Khadija’s research also delves into questions of forced displacement and its effects on marginalized and vulnerable communities.
Aliya Korganbekova (QUESTROM)
Nancy Kwan (MED)
“I am deeply grateful to the BU Women’s Guild for this award and recognition. Changing careers and going back to school is a big shift, but it is never too late to follow your passion – especially when it gives you the opportunity to directly help people improve their lives and achieve their goals.”
Nancy is pursuing a M.S. degree in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine at the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and interning at Bay Cove Human Services and Brandeis University Counseling Center. She is returning to academia after a nearly decade-long career in political communication, including serving as a speechwriter for Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the President/CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She plans to combine her passions for writing and mental health into a focus on helping clients see themselves as the authors of their own stories.
Nishaat Mukadam (GRS)
“It is an honor to be selected as a recipient of BU Women’s Guild Award. This award will help me with research for my dissertation. I’m so grateful to the members of the BU Women’s Guild for this opportunity.”
Nishaat Mukadam is a Clinical Psychology doctoral student at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She works under the mentorship of Dr. Alice Cronin-Golomb. She is interested in understanding cognitive functioning in healthy aging and in neurodegenerative conditions and aims is to improve the lives and functioning of people with cognitive dysfunction. Her current research involves using fNIRS to investigate the neural correlates of subjective executive function decline and cognitive reserve in healthy older adults and in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Shannon Ogden (SPH)
“I am honored and grateful to be selected for a BU Women’s Council Award. I appreciate the recognition of my academic efforts and the investment in my ongoing academic career.”
Shannon Ogden is a PhD Candidate in Health Services Research at BUSPH. Her research has focused on the health impacts related to intimate partner violence and the integration of healthcare and social services. Her dissertation work utilizes a mixed-methods approach to better understand the impacts of intimate partner violence on substance use behaviors and access to clinical and community-based services among women living with and without HIV.
Lu Ping (ENG)
“I am beyond honored to receive Boston University Women’s Council Award. I appreciate the generous support and the recognition of my work, as well as the help I received from my MSE and Chemistry community along my journey!”
Lu Ping is a G4 PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). Her current research focus on 2D materials synthesis, characterization and device development for next generation 2D opto-electronics. Before coming to BU, she received a BEng in MSE from Shandong University in China and a MS in MSE from the University of Manchester in United Kingdom.
Mandy Pinheiro (GRS)
“I am honored and grateful to be selected for the Boston University Women’s Council Award. Thank you to the BU Women’s Guild and BU Women’s Council members for their support of female graduate students at BU!”
Mandy Pinheiro (GRS) is a PhD Candidate in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, & Biochemistry at BU. Previously, she earned a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and M.S. in Exercise Physiology at The University of Akron. She went on to earn an M.S. in Human Physiology at BU. Mandy is a co-founder of the BU Biotech Group and was the co-chair of Outreach and Advocacy for BU Graduate Women in Science and Engineering. She is dedicated to combining her passion for translational science with her interest in commercializing impactful technologies to pursue a career in the business side of biotech.
Emily Rice (CFA/SVA)
“I am so grateful to the BUWG for their support and contribution to my graduate studies. The award will help further my arts-based research on mental health awareness and positive change. I am deeply honored to be among the accomplished women who have been selected to receive these awards. “
Emily Rice (CFA) is an MFA candidate in the Print Media and Photography program in Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. She holds a BS in Art Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Art Education from Boston University. Emily’s current artwork focuses on the complicated narratives and often serious realities surrounding mental health and substance use disorders. Through a transdisciplinary approach, Emily seeks to investigate how visual arts can intersect with the neurobiology that underlies these disorders to foster empathy and understanding.
Cara B. Safon (SPH)
“What a wonderful world.”
Cara B. Safon, MPH, is a former Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality T32 pre-doctoral fellow and currently a fourth-year PhD candidate in health services and policy research in the Department of Health Law, Policy, and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health. A mixed-methods researcher and hopeful implementation scientist, Ms. Safon studies access to perinatal doula care for low-income birthing people.
Courtney Sepe (GSDM)
“I am honored to receive this prestigious award and have others show support for my passion. This award mitigates the financial burdens I face in my academic journey. Such generosity plays a large factor in my ability to pursue a dental career with the hope of positively changing the lives of others.”
Courtney completed her doctorate in dentistry and is currently a first year orthodontic resident at the BU School of Dental Medicine. Her passion for dentistry began abroad on an service trip to Guatemala treating the dental needs of local communities. She has held leadership positions in organizations such as ASDA and has been a volunteer in community outreach events aimed at providing dentistry to underserved populations and promoting access to care. Her continued education is driven by the difference she believes she can make transforming individuals’ smiles to strengthen one’s confidence.
Sooyeon Song (SPH)
“Health policy research aims to improve the quality and value of health care system. I am deeply grateful to the Boston University Women’s Council for supporting this work and my development as a scholar in this discipline.”
Sooyeon Song (SPH) is a PhD student in Health Services and Policy Research. Her interests include payment and delivery reform, provider behavior, and primary care. Before coming to Boston University, she was a health specialist at Korea International Cooperation Agency HQ where she assisted in planning and evaluating programs in low-income countries. Before that, she was a nurse at Seoul National University Hospital and a research assistant at WHO HQ in Geneva. She received her MPH in health policy and management, BS in nursing, and BA in philosophy from Seoul National University, South Korea.
Maria Suarez Cepeda (CFA)
“Para ser feliz, solo hace falta estar vivo.”
My name is Maria Suarez Cepeda. I am from Venezuela where I studied music since I was 4 years old. I was part of the System of Chorus and Orchestras of Venezuela (El Sistema) and the Conservatory of Music of my hometown until I graduated in 2018. I attended the University Cecilio Acosta in Maracaibo to pursue my Bachelor of Arts degree in General Music. I am currently enrolled at Boston University, finishing my first year in the Master of Music Education-Initial Licensure Track program. I also work with the Arlington Center of the Arts running a little musicians program for children K-1.
Katelynn Weaver (SSW)
“The Boston University Women’s Council Award will allow me to research the healing properties offered by green and blue spaces. As a social work student and a veteran, I am passionate about the mental health of individuals; I aspire to develop holistic approaches to long-term care for those who have served this country. I will capitalize on this opportunity through networking and work to spread the hope, love, and support I wish to see in the world. Thank you.”
Katelynn Weaver, a US Army Veteran, is a Master of Social Work student with an anticipated graduation date in May of 2024. Katelynn received a BA in criminal justice and a minor in psychology from UMASS Lowell. Katelynn completed her first-year field education with a DMH-funded psychiatric rehabilitation program. In the fall of 2023, Katelynn will begin her second-year field placement with the Bedford VA in a HUD-VASH program. Katelynn hopes to perform research on the benefits of green spaces, eventually utilizing natural environments to positively impact Veterans’ emotional and mental health.
Xuyi Zhao (GRS)
“I am so honored and grateful to be selected to receive the BU Women’s Council Award. This award will enable me to focus on dissertation writing and present my academic work at a major conference in Europe.”
Xuyi Zhao is a Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural anthropology broadly interested in urbanization, gender, (im)mobility, temporality, and placemaking. Her current research investigates the making of a brand-new urban area in Southwest China and various local efforts of community building. Xuyi’s doctoral dissertation seeks to provide an in-depth analysis of state-individual relations amidst China’s unprecedented urbanization, as well as a careful examination of the myriad ways in which people inhabit, interpret, and envision the city vis-à-vis official timelines of urban development.
BUWC New England Women's College Scholarship
Grace Bernadette McGowan (GRS)
“As a first-generation, international scholar, this award means I will be able to continue focusing on my dissertation and producing scholarship that expands my field.”
Grace Bernadette McGowan is a PhD candidate at Boston University in the American & New England Studies Program. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 2017. Her dissertation “Venus Worked in Bronze: African-American Women’s Writing and the Classical Tradition” explores how Black women have reclaimed the figure of Venus and influenced and critiqued American beauty culture. Her article, “I Know I Can’t Change the Future, But I Can Change the Past: Toni Morrison, Robin Coste Lewis, and the Classical Tradition”, was published in the journal Contemporary Women’s Writing under OUP in 2020.
Kayli Rideout (GRS)
“The support of the BU Women’s Council Scholarship will allow me to research and write the final chapter of my dissertation. I am immensely grateful to the BU Women’s Guild for their generous support of my work as well as their belief in the women scholars of the BU community.”
Kayli Rideout (GRS) is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in the American & New England Studies Program at Boston University. With a background in material culture and design history, Kayli studies American social history and identity through decorative arts and material culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her dissertation explores the engagement of lauded American design firm Tiffany Studios with the visual program of the Lost Cause in the context of the Jim Crow South. She holds a BA from Davidson College and an MA from Parsons School of Design, The New School.