ISAB Members

ISAB Leadership

Academic Year 2017-2018

Undergraduate Chair: Lina Qostal, Morocco

Graduate Chair: David Socol

Outgoing Graduate Chair: Mahvish Ilyas, Pakistan

Vice Chair: James Goh, Singapore

Undergraduate Chair
Lina Qostal

Lina Qostal is the current Undergraduate Chair of ISAB and has been a member since Fall 2015. She is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Philosophy, Political Science and Economics. She was born and raised in Morocco, coming to the United States for the first time her freshman year. Her native languages are Arabic and French and she enjoys learning about new cultures. Before coming to Penn, Lina's commitment to Tennis allowed her to travel to many countries, especially in Europe and Africa, and compete against some of the best junior tennis players in the world. She is now representing Penn on the Women's Varsity Tennis Team. Her passion and dedication to helping others have led her to engage in activities such as tutoring and mentoring. Now, she wants to use her own experience as an international student to help bring Penn's international community closer together and to improve the transition of international students to life at Penn and in the United States.

Graduate Chair
David Uriel Socol de la Osa

David Uriel Socol de la Osa is an internationally trained lawyer. He has a dual degree in law and political science from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, having also attended the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Texas School of Law as an international student. He has experience both in the public and private sector - having contributed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain, both in central services and the Consulate General in New York; as well as firms like Baker & McKenzie. He was born in Spain, though he holds an Argentinian passport. His family migrated to Argentina during the Holocaust from the Slavic countries. He has competed in basketball at a high level, and is an avid musician. Here at Penn, David is on the board for Penn Law's International Human Rights Advocates, is an International Associate Editor for the Journal of International Law, and is the founder and president of the Mixed Martial Arts Club.

Outgoing Graduate Chair
Mahvish Ilyas

Mahvish is a student of Masters in Environmental Studies (MES) with concentration in Environmental Policy at School of Arts and Sciences. She was born and brought up in Pakistan. Before joining UPenn she was working with WWF-Pakistan as the head of Green School Programme which is one of WWF-Pakistan’s largest environmental education and youth engagement initiatives. She was also working on an international assignment in a multicultural setting as the WWF Asia Pacific Growth Strategy (APGS) Information and Knowledge Management Coordinator. Her role at APGS required close coordination with a network of 23 Asia Pacific countries as well as communicating with other WWF Network offices. Mahvish is passionate about traveling and exploring new cultures and cuisines. 

Vice Chair
James Goh

James is a sophomore from Singapore, studying Economics at the College of Arts and Sciences. He served about two years in the military as an Infantry Lieutenant before coming to college, having trained in jungle and urban warfare missions in Singapore, Brunei, and Taiwan. Having to adjust from the military to school life, he understand the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture and making new friends. Through ISAB, he hopes to make student life more enriching for all international students, through the organization of more social activities, more interactions between different cultural groups and raising awareness about the cultural diversity at Penn. In addition, he is also interested in economics, public policy, and international development, and is actively involved in numerous social impact consulting clubs at Penn, serving clients that range from Cambodia to Nigeria.

Board Member
Simisola Afolayan

Simisola Afolayan is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Biology and ASL and Deaf Studies with a minor in Theatre Studies. She was born and raised in Kaduna, North West Nigeria. She is passionate about helping international students transition and adapt effectively to being in a fast-paced environment like Penn. It is a goal of hers to contribute to developing and publicizing strategies that would particularly aid African International students to adjust effectively and relatively quickly so they are proper equipped to catch what Penn throws at them. In her free time she likes to sing, listen to Bob Marley and dance to Afrobeat music. 

Board Member
Efe Ayhan

Efe Ayhan is a freshman currently studying Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Born in Izmir, a seaside city in Turkey, he lived most of his life in Istanbul. Through his passion for windsurfing, by participating in international races, and volunteer work in India he got to travel around the world and experience different cultures, witnessing how common interests such as sports can act as unifying factors and promote understanding of different cultures. He is very excited and eager to contribute to the international student experience at Penn through ISAB. In his free time he likes to watch movies and read.

Board Member
Arnav Bhattacharya

I am a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of History and Sociology of Science. I am from Kolkata, India and I have completed my Bachelor's and Master's degree in St.Xavier's College, Kolkata and Presidency University, Kolkata, respectively. Though I am sure that my research interests will evolve and change by the time I begin writing my dissertation, my overarching research interests pertain to colonial medicine, alternative medicinal practices, gender, sexuality and the body in colonial and post-colonial South Asia. I am also interested in South Asian history, politics, religion and visual cultures in general. My non-academic interests include traveling, cooking, interacting with people, watching movies and listening to music. International students have a strong presence in Penn and often face challenges that are unique to them. I believe that by being a part of the ISAB I could make a positive difference to further enrich the international student experience at Penn together with gaining vital skills and working with a diverse and exciting group of people. 

Board Member
Julia Coquard

My name is Julia Coquard and I was born and raised in Malmö, Sweden. While considering myself primarily Swedish, my dad was born and raised in Paris and I have had a large French cultural influence on my upbringing. I am a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in PPE with a minor in Economic Policy. My hobbies include writing/composing and listening to all types of music but especially playing piano (I started at the age of 3 as both my parents are musicians and forced me to sing before I could speak), cooking, painting and drawing. Overall, I love everything creative. Before coming to Penn I took a gap year and worked with multiple NGO's (primarily Amnesty and ActionAid) in developing marketing structures. I was also Head Coordinator for EducationUSA Student Corps in Scandinavia where I organized college fairs, provided one-on-one counseling with students looking to apply to US universities and handled the relations between high schools and US college representatives. I have also worked with the European Youth Parliament since 2012 and have met and discussed various political issues with delegates and officials from all over the world through that organization. I am looking forward to gathering all my experiences with international influences to help contribute to a positive and supportive environment for all international students at Penn!

Board Member
Kim Fernandes

Kim Fernandes is a second year doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development at the Graduate School of Education. Prior to coming to Penn, she worked with the Ministry of Rural Development (Government of India), the Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Teach For India. She earned her Ed. M. in International Education Policy from Harvard's Graduate School of Education and her B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Kim enjoys reading, writing, traveling and teaching, and is excited for the collaborations that ISAB will foster this year!

Board Member
Mohammad Oulabi

My name is Mohammad Oulabi and I am from Aleppo, Syria. I am currently a sophomore studying Logic Information and Computation. As a student who has resettled in different countries several times, I am aware of the difficulties international students face when they first travel to the US to come to Penn. While I was personally pleasantly surprised with the amount of effort ISSS does to welcome international students and make them feel home, by joining ISAB and working with ISSS and other administrators, I plan on doing my best to ensure that international students not only feel welcome when they first arrive, but that they do so throughout their entire time at Penn.

Board Member
Amal Sethi

Amal Sethi is a Doctoral Candidate at Penn Law. He is a Legal Writing Fellow at Penn Law, a Salzburg Cutler Fellow, a Global Women Leadership Project Fellow and the Assistant Editor of the Penn Global Affairs Blog.  Amal recently served as a Special Rapporteur for a Roundtable on Women and Legislative Reform co-convened by UN Women, UNESCO, The SDG Fund, IDLO and Penn Law.

Amal received his LLM from Penn in 2016. While pursuing his LLM, Amal served as an editor on the Journal of International Law. Additionally, he worked with the Center for Ethics and Rule of Law, International Refugee Assistance Project, and International Human Rights Advocates. Amal was also part of a group that provided recommendations to UN Women and OHCHR on the impact of Gender Equality Provisions and Constitution Making.

Previously, Amal has worked with numerous organizations working on issues such as primary education, Gujarat Riots litigation, and the rehabilitation of convicted prisoners in India. He has been a research assistant to Chief Justice F.I. Rebello. Currently, Amal serves on the Board of Dagar, a non-profit organization based in Mumbai.


Board Member
Stefan Tzvetanov

My name is Stefan, and I am from Bulgaria. I was studying in a math school in Bulgaria until I moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 16 to study in a boarding school with a huge international student population. This experience helped me understand the power of diversity and the problems international students face when studying in a different country. Coming to Penn, even further away from home, was challenging at first too, but it inspired me to join ISAB, work closely with ISSS and really improve the experience of Penn’s international community. I would like to double major in Mathematics and Economics. I have a great interest particularly in inequality, game theory and linear algebra. I love football (or soccer, as it is called here) and have been supporting Real Madrid since 2004. I am also a keen skier and like playing tennis. 

Board Member
Derya Yavuz

Derya Yavuz is a freshman in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences studying Computer Engineering, hoping to lean into Biomedical Engineering in the future. She hopes to merge her passion for medicine and engineering in her career. Born and raised in Turkey, she went to a French high school there, so is comfortable with three languages, and knows how to adapt to foreign environments. With the ISAB, she hopes to meet new people from different cultures, and is greatly motivated to work in order to facilitate the adaption process of future new Penn students, already knowing how hard it was for her to get used to living in a new country. In her free time, she enjoys working out, doing archery, reading, listening to music, dancing and singing. 

Board Member
Xuning Cecilia Zhang

My name is Xuning Cecilia Zhang and I'm a Master's student in the International Educational Development program at the Graduate School of Education. I call Beijing, China home, but spent the past four years studying at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. I care about social justice and gender equality and love to have conversations on these issues with my friends. I also love photography and enjoy taking long walks with my walking buddies.

View past ISAB membership from the past several years who have contributed to transforming Penn into a global university.







See what past leaders say about ISAB

Academic Year 2016-2017
Graduate Chair: Fangming Li (outgoing) Mahvish Ilyas, Pakistan (incoming)
Undergraduate Chair: Chhavi Aggarwal 
Vice Chair: Mitchelle Matesva, Zimbabwe

Academic Year 2015-2016
Graduate Chair: Fangming Li, China/Canada
Undergraduate Co-Chairs: Valerio Imperatore, Italy
Bill Ding, China 

Academic Year 2014-2015:
Graduate Chair: Benjamin Partridge, UK
Undergraduate Chair: Erica Aduh, NigeriaVice Chair: Jussi Lundstedt, Finland

Academic Year 2013-2014:
Graduate Chair: Benjamin Partridge, UK
Undergraduate Chair: Frederick Jiacheng Ding, Canada

Academic Year 2012-2013:
Graduate Chair: Kwadwo Tettey, Ghana
Undergraduate Chair: Sofia Bernier, Chile

Academic Year 2011-2012:
Graduate Chair: Qiwei Shi, China
Undergraduate Chair: Lorenzo Beacco, Italy

Academic Year 2010-2011:
Graduate Chair: Phoebe So, United Kingdom
Undergraduate Chair: Trixie Canivel, Philippines

Academic Year 2009-2010:
Graduate Chair:  Manisha Joshi, India
Undergraduate Chair: Amal Rahuman, Sri Lanka

Academic Year 2008-2009:
Graduate Chair: Anne Katrin Arnold, Germany
Undergraduate Chair: Annabelle Hache, Dominican Republic

Academic Year 2007-2008:
Graduate Chair: Zehua Li, China
Undergraduate Chair: Alexander Giannakakis, Egypt