Class of 2013


Helinna Ayalew graduated from Macalester College with a BA in International Studies, focusing on Political Science and African Studies. Having grown up both in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Washington D.C., she had always known her academic and professional interests were never far from the African continent. While an undergraduate she studied abroad for a year, first in Cape Town, South Africa then Maastricht, the Netherlands, undertaking and eventually publishing research on globalization and leadership in multicultural societies. It was while on this year abroad that her interest in conflict studies was sparked. After graduating she moved back to Addis Ababa to work in this field, completing internships at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and had the opportunity to work for an American public health NGO. Various assignments took her to several corners of the country and the wider Horn of Africa region, including some of the conflict-riddled border zones. Her work facilitated a greater understanding of on-the-ground concerns while exposing her to different perspectives on peace and conflict from across the region.  At Yale, Helinna intends to continue exploring the nexus between conflict and development in the Horn of Africa, focusing particularly on ethnic and environmentally driven conflicts, as well as the role of leadership.


Erdong Chen did his undergraduate studies at American University, where he double majored in International Relations and Business Administration. He was born in Nanjing, China and went to Washington DC for college at the age of eighteen. He has traveled widely and has conducted research in many fascinating locations, including North Korea, Cuba and South Sudan. As an undergraduate his research focused on Washington-Beijing-Taipei triangular dynamics, nuclear crises in the Korean Peninsula, and civil society development in the Greater China Area. He worked briefly with a political risk analysis firm following his graduation in May, 2011. In the Fall of 2011, he took a research trip to Africa where he focused on strategic interactions and energy gaming between the United States and China in the region. During that trip, he visited South Africa and the newly established South Sudan. He is the first and, thus far, the only Chinese independent scholar to visit South Sudan for in-depth research. He is currently providing investment recommendations from Chinese companies interested in doing business in Africa.

Erdong’s interests include writing, fashion design, and business. He has written extensively for policy journals and newspapers, including the Foreign Policy in Focus, the Hong Kong Journal, the Asian Times Online, the China Post, among others. In 2010 he published his first book, From Washington to Taipei – Observing Taiwan from a Mainland-Chinese Student’s Perspective. The bestseller has received wide attention and generated profound debates across the Taiwan Strait. He has co-founded an education consulting company in China and plans to start a men’s wear boutique soon.


Lila Ann Dodge graduated from Smith College with a BA in Dance and American Studies. At Smith, Lila completed a thesis on site-specific dance comprising a written thesis, theorizing and tracing the history of place-based dance work, paralleled by her own 40-minute, itinerant, site-specific choreography. Her interest in contemporary dance of Africa was sparked particularly during her junior year abroad in France, studying at several Parisian universities and interning at the Centre National de la Danse. Lila received a Fulbright Fellowship for 2009-10, and spent ten months in Burkina Faso researching the development of communities around “contemporary” dance practice, as they loop between tight local systems of training and creative production in Africa, and highly international circuits of performance, collaboration, funding and accompanying political dynamics.
Lila has most recently been living in San Francisco, where, among other projects, she was performing and assisting on the administrative team for Kiandanda Dance Theater, directed by Byb Chanel Bibene (Republic of Congo/USA). At Yale, Lila aims both to continue the line of research she began in Burkina Faso, and to investigate her attention to movement and somatic experience as a lens for examining social phenomena beyond the purview of dance.


Denise Lim graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2008 with a B.A. in both English and sociology and a minor in Africana studies. After her second year of undergraduate study she received a grant from the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology to work with a foreign NGO called World Camp for Kids, Inc.  She spent five weeks traveling to rural villages outside of the capital city of Lilongwe, Malawi, where she taught HIV/AIDS prevention education to primary school students throughout the region. She went on to study abroad at the University of Cape Town, where she further developed her social research in HIV/AIDS in South Africa as well as apartheid history and post-apartheid literature. Her senior thesis focused on the political influence of racialized Christian theologies during the apartheid regime and its residual effects on post-apartheid literary discourse. At Yale, Denise continues to concentrate in Anglophone African literature and cultural sociology. She plans to write her master's thesis on how African literature is defined, canonized, and taught in South African universities.


Catherine Nelson is a writer, researcher and editor in international affairs with a focus on Africa. She holds 12 years of experience across several regions, including East Africa, the Andes, and the Baltic states. She has returned most recently from the Great Lakes Region of Africa where she conducted conflict and justice research on Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) in Rwanda and Burundi. She specializes in alternative dispute resolution, human rights, gender, and peacekeeping and the rule of law. Earlier research focused on forced migration and land rights, and Catherine received an MA in Migration Studies from the Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent (2009).


Scott Ross graduated from Arizona State University where he triple-majored in Secondary Education, American History, and Global Studies.  As a part of his Global Studies coursework, he volunteered at a number of organizations in Lira, Uganda in 2010.  He also taught high school American History and Government classes full-time as a part of his Education degree.  His interest in African studies centers around the history of how states approach conflict resolution and how the International Criminal Court gets involved in conflicts today.  At Yale, he hopes to concentrate on history and politics to learn more about the interplay between international law and conflicts. He is also interested in non-governmental organizations' work regarding human rights in central Africa. In his free time he enjoys spending too much time on Twitter, playing racquetball, blogging, and spending time with his wife.


Kevin Winn graduated from Emory University in May of 2011 with a BA in African Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. While there, he studied Arabic for three years, which sparked his interest in North Africa. After graduating, Kevin moved to Agadir, Morocco to teach English at an elementary school for a semester. Once returning, he began an internship at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia where he worked in the Office of Development. While at The Carter Center, Kevin worked closely with staff members to solicit possible donors to The Carter Center’s health and peace programs in Africa and the Middle East. This internship, along with coursework at Emory University, got him interested in focusing on the postcolonial history of Eastern and Southern Africa. As a graduate student, Kevin hopes to broaden his understanding of the Arabic language as well as learn Kiswahili.


Class of 2011


Michael Baca graduated from Amherst College in 2006 with a B.A. in history. The son of a Foreign Service Officer, Michael spent much of his childhood abroad, living in Ecuador, Canada, Ethiopia and India. While in college, he took a semester off to work and travel in South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, he managed to visit all nine South African provinces as well as the southern African states of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. Michael interned at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Program during the first seven months of 2007 before working at the Department of Defense for two years. A 2009-2010 MacMillan Merit Award recipient, Michael is studying security challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing primarily on the Gulf of Guinea and Sahel regions. He has spent the summer of 2010 at the State Department?s Bureau of African Affairs serving as the acting Liberia Desk Officer.

David Bargueño

David Bargueño is a Foreign Affairs Officer and Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of Global Food Security (S/GFS) at the U.S. Department of State. David’s portfolio covers food security policy in the Western Hemisphere, as well as strategic trilateral partnerships with Brazil, South Africa, and India. Prior to joining the State Department, David was a Fox Fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town, and he served as a Public Interest Fellow in the Appeals Bureau at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He has consulted with the Office of the Premier of the Western Cape Province in South Africa, and he has volunteered with WorldTeach Namibia and Habitat for Humanity in Mexico. David holds an M.A. from the Council on African Studies at Yale, and a B.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. His first languages were Spanish and English, and he is proficient in Zulu, Portuguese, and French.  



Kathleen Gualtieri graduated from the University of Virginia, earning a BA with Distinction in History with a focus on Africa and a minor in French Literature and Language. As an undergraduate, she spent six months at the Institut d'Études Politiques at the Université Lumière de Lyon Deux in Lyon, France. Following graduation, she worked for three years as an international advocacy and policy associate at the Save Darfur Coalition. In this capacity, she led efforts to coordinate advocacy and build the capacity of partner organizations across Africa, Europe and the Middle East working to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict in Darfur. In addition, she was responsible for developing the organization’s policy with respect to preventing sexual violence and building an effective civilian protection force to promote security in the region. Before joining Save Darfur, she worked briefly at the Women Thrive Worldwide, a non-profit organization that promotes women’s economic opportunity in the developing world. At Yale, Katie is broadly interested in conflict and post-conflict situations in the Great Lakes region, including issues relating to human rights and conceptions of justice. Specifically, she plans to focus her research on the participation of women and youth in post-conflict reconstruction efforts in east and central Africa.


Andrew Iliff received his B.A. ('04) magna cum laude in Social Studies and African Studies from Harvard University. He has also studied at Lester B. Pearson United World College in Canada and at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Andrew grew up in Zimbabwe and has spent time in Rwanda and South Africa. He has worked for the International Centre for Transitional Justice, Human Rights Watch and WilmerHale. He is currently working on his thesis on the Tree of Life reconciliation workshops in Zimbabwe.



Rachel Mandel received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2008. In addition to a focus in Anthropology, she received an African Studies Certificate and completed an additional independent concentration in Gender and Sexuality. As an undergraduate she participated in a study abroad program through the School for International Training (SIT), spending 5 months travelling the coast of East Africa and doing two months of independent study and fieldwork in Mombasa, Kenya. During this time she worked on attachment with International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH) in conjunction with their MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) Peer Education project. She returned to Mombasa the following year with the help of an honors research grant to continue her work with the LGBT population of Kenya in preparation for the completion of her undergraduate honors thesis – an exploration of the obstacles to a gay-rights movement in the political, cultural, legal, and religious climate of East Africa. During the summer of 2010 Rachel participated in the two-month Advanced Kiswahili course in Mombasa, Kenya and also received a fellowship to continue research for her MA thesis. Having worked independently from ICRH since late 2007, she will be examining the role of international organizations in local social justice movements. ICRH and Kenya Medical Research Institute, University of Washington (KEMRI-UW) will be used in concurrence with the burgeoning LGBTI-rights movement in Kenya as case studies in a larger commentary on the motives and local impact of NGOs and other multinational organizations.


Eva Namusoke received her B.A. in History and International Relations from the University of Exeter (UK) in 2006 with Honors. While at Exeter she wrote her undergraduate dissertation on the colonial and missionary history of Africa focusing in on Uganda, her home country. Eva grew up in a variety of African countries, ranging from Malawi to Ethiopia, personally witness to the incredible beauty and inequality on the continent. At Yale Eva is broadening her understanding of Africa, considering issues of gender, development, HIV/AIDS and education. In addition, she is studying Kiswahili which she hopes will compliment her native language of Luganda. Following research in Kampala, Eva plans on writing her Master’s Thesis on the relationship between religion and politics in the government of Uganda. She hopes that her time at Yale will equip her with the tools needed for the development of the continent she calls home.



Class of 2010

Seraphine (Phine) Hamilton received her B.A. in English and Africana Studies from William Smith College in 2006 with honors. Since then she has been teaching English and coaching soccer and basketball at the Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. While at Peddie, she developed the curriculum for two courses: “Unheard Voices” and “Africa Through the Novel”. As an educator, she strives to open windows, doors, even crevices for her students in an attempt to shed light on different perspectives and experiences. These classes gave her that opportunity.

Her love for African literature and history developed at an early age. But her desire to focus her life’s work in these areas solidified during a 6-month residency at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa. During this time she came face to face with a new culture and a tremendously exciting and satisfying way of life. Phine, a two-time NCAA Division III All-American and one-time Academic All-American soccer player, integrated herself naturally by playing on the University soccer team as well as a regional semi-professional team. During her time at UWC, she had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of her personal heroes and role models. This experience showed that the Archbishop was authentic and real, unmarred by decades of fame and recognition. His messages of equal civil rights and a common education system resonate with her. His approach and commitment inspires her. While at Yale, she plans to explore the impact of current and historical political events on educational systems in the Southern African nations. With that said, she plans to return to southern Africa as an educator, explorer, and proponent for peace.

Mohamed Yunus Rafiq comes with eight years experience working in the community development and cultural sector in Tanzania, where he co-founded Aang Serian,a Global NGO ( Mohamed Yunus grew up and lived in Arusha, Tanzania for 26 years before pursuing his B.A. in Bloomington, Indiana at Indiana University (IU). He graduated from IU in the summer of 2007 with a B.A. in Telecommunications and Near Eastern Cultures and Languages. For his McNair research at IU , he studied the role of poetic performances in airing grievances in Tanzania. He is hoping to extend his undergraduate research interest as he commences his graduate studies. Specifically, he would like to explore how classical Swahili texts dealt with the issue of health and then connect it to how contemporary forms such as Bongoflava frame this issue. Mohamed Yunus continues to be an active participant in various UN forums such as the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples Issues and UN-Habitat. In his leisure, he likes to compose poetry and write short stories. One of his fictional works will be published in an anthology, at the beginning of 2009, under the title of Modern Short Friction Stories from Kenya. He is moving to New Haven with his wife and two small sons.

Jason Warner graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2006 with a BA (Highest Honors) in International Studies - Africa. In addition to spending a year at the Université de Montpellier (France) as an undergraduate, he also backpacked through Senegal researching linguistic policy in the public schooling domain, culminating in a thesis centered on Senegal’s potential to achieve Millennium Development Goal Number Two, the provision of universal primary education.

Following graduation, Jason worked for the French Government as a public school teacher in French Guiana. Intrigued by its neo-colonial relationship with France, he is now compiling the first comprehensive history of French Guiana available in English, focused specifically on why, after nearly four centuries of colonization, it has yet to gain independence from France. He has interned and/or served as a contributing writer at TransAfrica Forum, The Institute of Caribbean Studies and and speaks with varying degrees of success: French, Spanish, Portuguese and Yoruba.

At Yale, Jason was broadly interested in African and Caribbean nations’ roles in the international political economy and their pursuit to achieve social justice by breaking free from exploitative relationships with the so-called “West.” Specifically, he focused on French foreign policy towards its former and present colonies in Africa and the Caribbean, particularly in regards to questions of decolonization, neo-colonialism and the ideology of Françafrique.


Class of 2009


Kimberley Roosenburg first set foot in Africa at eighteen and, after three months living and working in a horseback safari camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, she was hooked. She received her B.A. (’03) from the University of Virginia, majoring in English Literature with a minor in Foreign Affairs, and also studied at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Oxford, U.K. After graduation, Kimberley returned to Botswana and African Horseback Safaris, where she became increasingly convinced of the importance of wilderness and of the potential for development through nature-based initiatives. She then found work in New York that combined her interests in Africa, conservation, and foreign affairs at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC). As Production Manager for the CBC’s Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP), a global initiative to improve the practice of conservation by improving training in conservation, Kimberley has spent time in Madagascar and South Africa. At Yale, she plans to pursue her interest in environmental issues, as well as study the historical and political contexts of Africa’s development challenges.

Rachel Silver - Ms. Silver received her MA in the African Studies program in 2009. She has worked with Somali refugee communities in Maine, USA and Dadaab, Kenya since 2003. She co-authored Educated for Change?: Gender, Schooling, and Forced Migration Among Somali Women and co-edited They Were Very Beautiful. Such Things Are. with Patti Buck. She is cofounder, along with Patti Buck and Ismail Ahmed, of Matawi, a nongovernmental organization that supports education, civic engagement, and leadership in the global refugee community. Ms. Silver currently directs the Dadaab Young Women’s Scholarship Initiative and works as a Donor Relations Specialist for a partner organization of Matawi, the Kenya Education Fund.