International Student Table for Advocacy & Relations

ISTAR

The International Student Table for Advocacy & Relations (ISTAR) works closely with ISSS and is a partnership of different student organizations, both undergraduate and graduate, with a mission to advocate and provide a unified voice for all international students at Penn.

ISTAR comprises representatives from the following student organizations:

  • International Student Advisory Board (ISAB)

  • Assembly of International Students (AIS)

  • Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) International Affairs

  • Undergraduate Assembly (UA)

ISTAR is coordinated by ISSS. For any questions about ISTAR, please contact:

Rudie Altamirano, Director of ISSS

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GAPSA International Affairs
Vithika Aggarwal

Born and brought up in India, Vithika is a first-year biotechnology graduate student at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Apart from involvement in the scientific community, Vithika has had experience shaping public policies and am currently working on healthcare consulting projects. Coming from a diverse cultural background, she understand the importance of integration and fitting in. As a GAPSA International Affair's Committee Representative, she is excited to enhance the Penn experience for all international students by advocating for their rights and helping wherever possible. 

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Assembly of International Students
Neeraj Chandrasekar

Neeraj is a senior in Wharton studying Finance and Business Analytics. Although he was born in Chennai, India, Neeraj spent most of his childhood in Bahrain, and went to high school in Qatar and Singapore, where he currently lives. Outside of AIS, Neeraj is involved in Penn Microfinance and 180 Degrees Consulting. He is also an RA in Fisher Hassenfeld. Neeraj loves to cook and explore the city. 

 

 

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International Student Advisory Board
James Goh

James is a junior 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 ISTAR, 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.

 

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GAPSA International Affairs
Christiana Kallon

Christiana Kallon is a 2nd year doctoral student in Education, Culture and Society where she is studying gender and post-conflict educational reforms in West Africa. She holds an MS.Ed. in International Educational Development from Penn and a BA in Sociology from The College of William & Mary. Christiana is originally from Freetown, Sierra Leone but grew up in Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda and Bangladesh. She has also lived and worked in Jordan and Senegal. She is the current Chair for International Affairs in the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA).

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Undergraduate Assembly
Maher Abdel Samad

Maher is a sophomore from Lebanon, studying Systems Science and Engineering. Maher hails from a rich culture defined by diversity and coexistence: Lebanon’s 18 different religious groups and dozens of ethnic groups all live in an area 11 times smaller than Pennsylvania. He serves as the Executive Vice President of the Freshman Class Board and sits on the Undergraduate Assembly’s Social Justice Committee. Through the UA, he hopes to make tangible positive changes to the lives of students not traditionally represented in Student Government at Penn such as International Students. In addition, he is also interested in international development, financial systems, and operational efficiency. He’s also a big champion of the Penn spirit, as he’s involved with the Kite and Key Society and works closely with Penn Traditions.

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International Student Advisory Board
David Socol

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.

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Assembly of International Students
Eva Zhang

Eva is a sophomore studying International Relations and Business Analytics, minoring in Art History. Born and raised in Beijing, she attended high school in Connecticut. At Penn, she is involved in the Assembly of International Students, the International Affairs Association, and Wharton China Association. Eva enjoys horseback riding, traveling, and exploring different cultures through food or arts.