Penn World Scholars Class of 2027

World ScholarsGroup Photo PWS


Karam Alkaissy
Karam Alkaissy

Academic Areas of Interest: I intend to major in Chemical Engineering while staying in touch with my interests in the humanities by minoring in International Relations or Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with a concentration in Arabic. Through my studies at Penn, I hope to learn more about the intersection of engineering and society in the light of 21st-century global issues such as climate change and energy/resource depletion. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I love learning and practicing languages, watching travel blogs on YouTube, going down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia’s most obscure articles, travelling, and being in the company of great friends.  

Future Plans: Upon completion of my degree, I hope to draw on my knowledge, connections, and internship and club experiences to become a global leader in the industry I will be most passionate about by then. Currently, the prospect of returning to the Netherlands to develop my expertise in the energy industry sounds appealing. Nevertheless, so does the idea of leveraging my passion for this industry to bring positive and substantial change to the socio-economic and environmental landscape of Iraq: the country where my roots lie.  

Mekides Belie

Academic Areas of Interest:  I am currently undecided on my major as I explore various fields of interest. The areas that have captured my attention are design, architecture, and computer science. These disciplines not only intrigue me but also align with my aptitude and potential career aspirations. In every corner of this vibrant campus, I see the potential to mold my future, and transform my aspirations into reality. The allure of design beckons me with its promise of creativity and innovation, while architecture's blend of aesthetics and functionality fills me with amazement. And then there's the ever-evolving world of computer science, where I can harness the power of technology to shape the future. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I love traveling, eager to soak in new experiences and immerse myself in the great outdoors. Whether it's hiking in majestic landscapes or embarking on culinary adventures, I cherish every moment of discovery. I like to read books, particularly those related to Ethiopian ancient history and the profound teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. These texts connect me to my roots, enriching my understanding of culture and spirituality. My love for photography, design, and drawing allows me to capture the beauty I find in the world and express my creativity. Yet, amidst all these passions, one thing remains constant: my unwavering love for friends and family. The joy of spending time with them, sharing laughter, and creating cherished memories is the most important thing in my life. 

Future Plans: As I navigate my way through Penn's vast array of opportunities, I carry this passion with me, fueling my desire to learn, grow, and contribute to my country Ethiopia as well as the world. With each step, I inch closer to discovering my true calling, driven by the fervor that courses through my being. 

Faruk Ecirli
Faruk Ecirli

Academic Areas of Interest: As a student in the Huntsman Program, I will be working towards a BA in International Studies at the College and a BS in Economics at Wharton. Even though I am not entirely sure, I plan to double concentrate in Business Economics & Public Policy and Finance. My target language for Huntsman is Russian, so I will also be taking lots of classes related to Russian culture and literature.
Personal Interests and Hobbies: I have a wide variety of interests and hobbies, including languages, cartography, urban planning, geopolitics, European history, and soccer.
Future Plans: After completing my undergraduate studies at Penn, I plan to work in the private sector in the United States for a few years before returning to my home country, Türkiye.

Amanda Hunt
Amanda Hunt

Academic Areas of Interest: I am majoring in Biochemistry I am very passionate about science and research. I like biochemistry because it opens up many opportunities in various fields of science. I am also interested in philosophy and might minor in it. It is fascinating to think about how our reality can be understood through different lenses, and how studying philosophy can make us more critical and open. In the future, I would like to combine my passion for philosophy with science and hopefully do meaningful research. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: One of my main interests is children’s rights and many social movements in my home country, Chile. I have and am participating in many organizations that promote the rights of children, especially their right to voice their opinions. I also love reading, writing poetry, and making short films. I feel that through writing and making videos, very beautiful and special feelings, perspectives, or events can be communicated in a special way.  

Future Plans: In the future, I  would like to pursue a PhD after undergraduate school and to keep on developing my scientific skills, while combining science with philosophy. I also would like to be more involved in social projects back home and work to give back to my community. I would like to have more time to actually implement a project that I have been working on with some friends in Chile to build a parliament to involve young people in policymaking and politics in general.  


Hanan Jannoud
Syrian Arab Republic
Hanan Jannoud

Academic Areas of Interest: I am very curious about economic theory and its applications in improving our quality of life today. I hope to learn more about related fields such as mathematics, political science, philosophy, etc, to frame a better understanding of economics.

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I am strongly committed to community service in education. I founded a non-profit offering free academic programs to underprivileged Syrian students and led multiple other initiatives to support the education of students from conflict zones and ethnic minorities worldwide (including in the MENA region, Hong Kong, and Thailand). In my free time, I like to think and articulate my thoughts through creative writing and debate. I am also active in sports and music.
Future Plans: I plan to use the education I receive at the University of Pennsylvania to advise and advocate for economic policies that improve societies’ quality of life and advance the economies of developed countries. I also hope to contribute to the research being conducted in the field of economics. 

Nick Kioko
Nick Kioko

Academic Areas of Interest: Problem-solving in the 21st century requires multidisciplinary expertise. In addition to improving my technical knowledge in areas like renewable energy, infrastructure financing, international financial transactions and international relations, a Wharton education in areas like Finance and Business Economics and Public Policy coupled with a minor in Political Science and Environmental Studies at CAS will help me develop business and leadership skills that will enable me to address economic and social challenges at home and across the globe. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I am in love with the idea of adventure. In high school, I was on every pitch of every sport at least once, though I quickly realized sports were not my forte (I was terrible in all of them). Like everyone else, I found my own niche, primarily in debate and politics. But I didn’t stop looking for adventure, whether it was by accepting nominations to represent my school and country in Round Square International Conferences, giving a TED talk in my second year in high school, leading my house in a folk song and dance performance at the inter-house Gala night competitions in 2019, or taking a 3-year gap year after high school to explore working with different organisations across Africa before enrolling into college (KenSAP has been my greatest experience so far!!!). I love traveling, cooking, listening to worship music, watching and reading politics and singing to myself behind closed doors just because I enjoy making joyful noises. 

Future Plans: Career wise, I plan to go into investment banking or consulting (I am still deciding between the two). But as part of my personal endeavours, I plan to start and run a diverse network of companies and businesses operating primarily in the vast African continent but with the main purpose of connecting Africa to the world. I also plan to go into politics with the main aim of liberating Africa economically and hope to use the global networks I will have formed over time to accomplish this. 

Ashwin Laksumanage
Sri Lanka
Ashwin Laksumanage

Academic Areas of Interest: I plan to major in Philosophy and Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences. As for interests, if I was able to cheat I’d say I'm Interested in the Liberal Arts so I’m able to cover everything. But if I’m being more specific I’m interested in Philosophy, Economics, Sociology, Physics, Linguistics, Statistics, Religious Studies, Art History and Classics. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I love comedy! I do stand up whenever I can and am a member of Without A Net, Penn’s Improv Comedy Troupe. I enjoy debate, reading political literature from across the globe, and keeping up with world affairs so I can be politically involved on campus. I also like TTRPGs and finding very niche music. I’m trying to explore Philadelphia more! 

Future Plans: I am drawn towards public policy based work. After undergrad I want to go to grad school and then work towards uplifting and improving the lives of people across the globe as well as in my home country of Sri Lanka through policy. I also potentially see myself working in academia. 

Mariana Lanuza
Mariana Lanuza

Academic Areas of Interest: I am in the Huntsman Program studying business and international studies with a Portuguese target language. I am interested in gaining a deeper understanding of business and economics, developing strong analytical and problem-solving capabilities, and leadership skills to implement policies effectively.

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I have been playing the piano and dancing ballet since I was five years old. I enjoy playing classical music, ballet pieces, and Bossa Nova. I have given piano recitals and danced the main role in a ballet presentation at the Nicaraguan National Theater. I love learning languages and speak French, Spanish, English and Portuguese. The languages have acted as a channel to explore other countries’ cultures, read their literature, magazines, and newspapers online, and get to know some of the local people. I have debated for many years in regional conferences, such as DALE and AASCA, as well as in international conferences such as HACIA Democracy and MUN. I was also a member of DALE’s Board, a national debate organization.

Future Plans: The Huntsman program provides in-depth learning and leadership skills that would help me become an agent of change. Ultimately, I would like to dedicate my career to serving in government, possibly in Nicaragua under a democratic government or with a multilateral organization like the Inter-American Development Bank or the World Bank.

Claire Amythess Moraña

Academic Areas of Interest: I have always been interested in how STEM and the Humanities interact with each other and how their intersections are applied practically. I plan to explore the academic areas of Economics and its various fields, as well as Data Science and Mathematics.  

Personal Interests and Hobbies: Some of my involvements are in civic engagement and climate action. I enjoy exploring new places and eating good food. In my free time, I binge-watch TV series, listen to music, and read. I also love doing karaoke. 

Future plans: Although the future is still uncertain, I want to travel and use the skills and experience I gained during my time at Penn to make a positive impact to the Philippines and to the world.

Elliot Ross-Dick
Trinidad and Tobago
Elliot Ross-Dick

Academic Areas of Interest: I have always loved the theoretical side of Math and Physics, so I am hoping to major in Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences. However, I have growing interests in the social impact the Arts on society. I hope to do research in any of these areas. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I enjoy choreography and exploring contemporary performance art. Also, I am really passionate about social justice issues, especially gender-based violence and discrimination and I am excited to continue learning about it. I love jazz, playing the drums and trumpet, and music production. But most importantly, I love playing video games and tennis from time to time. 

Future Plans: There are a range of possibilities that interest me. For instance, I plan to do a master’s degree in one of my prospective academic fields and use my basis in research to identify a certain issue or problem that I will work on. I also plan to create and mount a few performances of my own that create awareness for inequity in society. Essentially, although my path is not definite, I plan to continue my exploring my passions through research. 

Cristobal Ruiz
Cristobal Ruiz

Academic Areas of Interest: I am planning to study Finance and Management in the Wharton School of Business, and I would also like to do a minor in Consumer Psychology.  

Personal interests and hobbies: Reading classic books, going hiking with my friends, going to the gym, checking out new restaurants, and learning new languages.  

Future plans: Even though I don’t know what I want to study, I’m certain that I want to be able to have an impact in my community through my work, whether that’s through consulting or something else.  

Yuliya Solyanyk
Yuliya Solyanyk

Academic Areas of Interest: I’m a big math enthusiast, and I'm excited to dive deeper into its applications here at Penn. I also enjoy creative writing, economics, and computer science. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: For over 15 years, dance has been my escape. I grew up with the DCF dance team in Uzhhorod, where I danced in styles like contemporary, jazz, lyrical, ballroom, hip-hop, and folk and competed at various festivals internationally. Later, at Phillips Academy in MA, I joined a jazz team and choreographed a piece for the modern ballet group on campus. At Penn, you can find me performing with Arts House Dance Company! 

Future Plans: I hope to enhance my math knowledge and branch out in some other areas of the subject with a mission of later on using the acquired knowledge back in Ukraine and contributing to the effort of rebuilding the post-war country.  

Tanay Tandon
Tanay Tandon

Academic Areas of Interest:  

Formally – Computer Science and Psychology. 

Informally – Philosophy, Finance, Mathematics, and more. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: Love photography/videography, playing the guitar, getting out of my comfort zone, reading, debating, and eating good food. 

Future Plans: I aspire to use Penn’s interdisciplinary education to explore the intersection of technology and society. While I am unsure of which technological specialty I will follow, I know it will be one that maximizes my engagement and contribution to the communities I belong to. 

Mikal Tesfamariam
Mikal Tesfamariam

Academic Areas of Interest:  I have an eclectic course load. I’m studying Physics and Economics as well as French and Arabic. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I often read the Russian authors, and I’m a great admirer of Dostoevsky. I’m a classical violinist, and I play tennis. I value the study of history, and I drink an absurd amount of tea.  

Future Plans: I am driven, primarily, by curiosity but also a pursuit to serve in the interest of humanity by maximising my utility in whichever field I find myself.  

Opal Trim
Saint Lucia
Opal Trim

Academic Areas of Interest: Chemistry is and has always been my favorite subject but I’m not entirely sure what area I want to focus on. There are so many fields to choose from - Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering - which all sound incredibly exciting in their own ways.  

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I have a deep love for community service and volunteering. Besides that I like to spend my free time dancing, laughing with my friends and reading and watching anything fantasy and sci-fi. 

Future Plans: I have dreamt about going into research for years now. I’d like to work in the cancer field and hopefully help develop a new drug that can be used to help and cure people suffering from cancer.  

Mário Valek
Mário Valek

Academic Areas of Interest: Currently I am the most interested in Public Policy - specifically the interplay between the economic and legal areas of policymaking. Nevertheless, I am open to exploring new areas of study in the future. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I enjoy debating and, in general, mediating heated conversations and challenging other people's opinions and values. I love admiring the perfection in art, especially in older paintings, but I also enjoy finding meaning in postmodern art as well. Over the break, I like to cook for my friends, especially after returning home from a long day of swimming in the lake, river, or sea. However, my absolute favorite pastime is writing, whether it involves crafting lengthy personal paragraphs, creating dynamic slam poetry, or simply reading the works of others. 

Future Plans: I’d like to become the future Minister of Education in Slovakia. Teaching fascinates me and diving deep into ways how to improve education is my currently biggest passion. Nevertheless, I also want to stay open to new possibilities and that’s why I am currently learning about the American History of Law and the African Modern History.

Theertha Vannemreddy
Kenya, Tanzania, India
Theertha Vannemreddy

Academic Areas of Interest: I am planning on majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. I have always been interested in the complexities of tech within the business management field. 

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I love playing badminton and going to Pottruck to explore new fitness methods. I cannot wait to represent Penn in badminton for the next 4 years! Besides sports, I have always been keen on civic engagement and Model UN. At Penn I want to continue exploring how I can stay in touch with the community in Philly. 

Future Plans: I have always seen myself going into leadership and I strongly believe in sustainable urbanization and modernization. Hence, I plan to pursue an MBA after my bachelor’s degree to learn management and economics within the STEM field to better understand the impacts on technology in our face-paced world and to innovate sustainably to ease human lives. I want to make technology more accessible to people regardless of their socioeconomic, racial, and geographical backgrounds.  

Thakia Waksanga

Academic Areas of Interest: What are the ethics of the rise in emergence of artificial intelligence? Are we headed to a better destination with AI spearheading all our endeavors or is it a self-destruct button for all of us? What are the implications of AI on African lives? Should both large and startup companies prioritize AI technology? As a computer science major in the school of engineering .I want to use technology to build empathy and inclusion with a concentration in Artificial intelligence and machine learning. I hope to be equipped with skills in programming that I can use to code for a world that celebrates diversity.

Personal Interests and Hobbies: I love nature and am constantly in awe of its beauty. I find solace in nature, especially when I take a walk to clear my mind. I am also interested in the ethics engineers use to design different projects, and I plan on doing research about the taxonomy of data privacy.

Future Plans: I envision myself working in a technology based company either as a software engineer or just a developer in general. I also want to initiate an automatic irrigation project using moisture sensors in Rwanda directly after my graduation from Penn, and hopefully in the future start my own tech company in Africa.