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2013 Cohort

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David Balantsov is an incoming freshman and recent graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School. A first generation American of Ukranian descent, David is fluent in both Russian and English. David is also a self taught guitarist and coder and plans on majoring in economics. He currently works at Futures and Options, an organization that helps place teenagers in internships. He is a foodie and loves exploring new places to eat in New York City. David also enjoys learning about and meeting people from other cultures.




A recent Arizona transplant, Gabby Cook Francis is a freshman at Hunter College majoring in political science. She is fascinated by women's issues, foreign policy, political rhetoric and the arts. Gabby has interned with the International Rescue Committee, Semester at Sea, Somali Bantu Association of Tucson AZ, Ron Barber, and the 2012 Obama campaign. A global citizen, Gabby has traveled to over 28 countries and it is her ambition to continue gaining new experiences and helping people across the globe.




Austin DeBoer is an incoming freshman at Hunter College passionate about governance and leadership. A self-made man, Austin has spent his time working in his hometown of Stony Brook, Long Island to save money to put himself through college and is now ecstatic to now call Manhattan his home.





Darcie Dominianni is a freshman at Hunter College. She is interested in Anthropology and Languages, with a focus on Russian and Ancient Greek. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Darcie now aspires to travel the world and live in many different countries. During her senior year in high school, Darcie participated in the Model New York City Council Project. She hopes to pursue a doctorate in Anthropology and work in a museum.



Michelle Ermolenko is focusing her studies on international relations and biology. She enjoys literature and the arts and has had her work published in two poetry anthologies. Michelle was a recipient of the Joseph Maffeo Hero Award for Making the World a Better Place and hopes to intern at Marvel in the future. She loves New York and is constantly learning from the cultures and personalities of the City.




Loraine Farberg is an undergraduate Roosevelt Scholar at Hunter College. Her intended major is political science, and her intended minor is in acting. Loraine's passions include dancing, theater, music, and debating. Loraine is considering a career in law where she hopes to promote reforms that will improve New York City.




Mario Ismailanji is an Economics major at Hunter College. Born in Albania, Mario faced financial hardships growing up, but he has called New York his home for over a decade now. Mario has volunteered at the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center, an elderly living center, where he worked at the front desk and as a physical therapy assistant. A man of many interests, Mario hopes to continue to grow and develop as a person.




Carolyn Laveglia is a freshman and Roosevelt Scholar.





Born in a small town in the Philippines, Janus Manlapaz moved to New York at the age of 10. Janus went on to attend Brooklyn Technical High School where he participated in track and field and graduated as an AP scholar. During his high school years, Janus developed an interest in photography and volunteered for Ronald McDonald. A computer science major at Hunter College, Janus hopes to work as a programmer or systems analyst. With that experience, Janus intends to study law and become a corporate lawyer.



Collin McGorty is a freshman and Roosevelt Scholar at Hunter College intending to major in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. A Long Island native, Collin attended Chaminade High School where he was a member of the writing staff for the school newspaper, played football, and rowed crew. Collin spent the past two years working for Goodwill Industries as a sales specialist before moving to New York City. Last year, Collin traveled down to West Virginia where he spent several weeks repairing homes and rendering other services to the poverty stricken residents. As a sophomore in high school, Collin suffered six collapsed lungs over the span of a year which required him to spend roughly a month in the Intensive Care Unit. This instilled resilience in him and a firm work ethic which he looks forward to showcasing during his time at Hunter College.



Susanne Mei is a Freshman at Hunter College intending to study International Relations, and Urban Planning and Affairs. She is a first generation Asian American, born and raised in New York City. Susanne graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School where she was a member of JSA (Junior State of America) and had the opportunity to debate political, social, and economic issues with students and intellectuals from across the Northeast. She was also a member of her high school's Progressive Student Awareness Club and participated in the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute and Debate Training program this past summer. For the past four years, Susanne has been an active member of the Junior Associate Board at Gilda's Club NYC, a cancer society that seeks to give free support and aid to those fighting cancer and those that have been affected by cancer. Susanne has also volunteered at Camp Sparkle and has planned and hosted events to raise cancer awareness and to help provide emotional and social support for cancer patients. Susanne plays volleyball competitively and has recently picked up archery and dragon boating.



Jessica Mendieta is majoring in economics, and considering minors in Italian, Sociology and Political Science. This past summer, Jessica interned at NYC & Company and her work there inspired her to pursue a career in research. Raised in Mexico for part of her youth, Jessica is fluent in Spanish and is now interested in becoming fluent in Italian as well. Jessica plans to join the Hunter Envoy and Model UN. She also intends to study abroad and expand her global perspective. She is grateful to her mentors for the support they've given her and looks forward to becoming a mentor to those who share her love of learning.




Lawrence Sanchez is an incoming freshman at Hunter College. Lawrence's interests range from psychology to political science. A Colorado native, Lawrence moved to New York City two years ago. He recently interned at the New York Historical Society where he facilitated and developed programming for a pop up exhibit on Governors Island and developed additional family programming for the Armory at 100 exhibit coming to the museum this fall. Lawrence enjoys learning new things and sharing them with people and he welcomes new experiences.




Thomas Sharkey hopes to study political science, economics, sociology, and history at Hunter College as part of the Roosevelt Honors Program. Thomas worked as an actor for almost 12 years and is an active member of SAG-AFTRA. More recently, his interests have shifted to politics. He has attended numerous seminars addressing historical and dialectical materialism (the science and philosophy of Marxism), imperialism and neo-colonialism, institutional racism, and proletarian feminism. A Jackson Heights native of Irish, Colombian, Filipino and Lithuanian descent, Thomas enjoys reading and broadening his political knowledge in order to benefit the working class movement in the future.




Melody Tong is currently a freshman enrolled in Hunter. She is of Han Chinese descent, and is exploring the fields of education, genetics, physics, cultural anthropology, and urban studies.






Hayley Watkins is a freshman at Hunter College planning to study political science and journalism. An activist, Haley's interests span global affairs, American politics, developing democracies, women's empowerment, legal rights, and health care. In high school, Haley volunteered at a nursing home, at an animal shelter, with the Special Olympics and with a disaster relief group. Hayley also participated in several theater productions as an actor and director. Hayley is a dual citizen of Australia and the United States and has family across the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Australia. She looks forward to living in Manhattan and being a part of the Roosevelt Scholars Program.




James Wheaton is an incoming freshman in the Roosevelt Scholars Program at Hunter College. James's interests include Political Science, Law, Theatre, Music, and Linguistics. In high school, James was a law major and performed in multiple orchestral concerts and high school plays and musicals. An autodidact, James is presently teaching himself German language. James was born and raised in Brooklyn, but plans on traveling and learning more about the world around him.




Born in Durango, Colorado, Heidi Wu moved to New York City when she was three. Heidi graduated as salutatorian from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. In Junior High School, Heidi served as Vice President and President consecutively, and in High School Heidi participated in the student club Hearts on a String selling handmade bracelets for charity. Heidi also volunteered at her local library. Passionate about history and culture, Heidi plans on majoring in anthropology at Hunter College.




Ailsa Wu is currently pursuing studies in the social sciences as Hunter College. Raised in Brooklyn, Ailsa attended Mark Twain Intermediate School where she studied magnetics with a focus on the arts. She then went on to attend Brooklyn Technical High School where she concentrated on law and society.





Petar Zelenovic is an incoming freshman majoring in chemistry. Born in Serbia, Petar moved to the United States when he was three where he later attended Stuyvesant High School. Petar's interests extend to world and domestic affairs as well as the legal system. Petar's passion for New York City motivated him to pursue his undergraduate studies at Hunter College.


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