Citizen Leaders Fellowship

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Citizen Leaders Fellowship

Final Presentation Event 4/26/2024!


CLF 2024-25 Application  

CLF 2024-25 Nomination Form 

The Citizen Leaders Fellowship—a partnership with the Contemplative Sciences Center, the International Studies Office, and UVA Athletics—offers students a year-long leadership opportunity to gain skills needed to flourish during their time at UVA and after graduation.  
Eligible UVA students from the international student, student athlete, and transfer student communities identify a specific, pressing challenge to the well-being or flourishing of their peers or larger communities and spend their fellowship year designing and implementing programs to overcome those challenges with evidence-based tools.  
Fellows emerge with their own style of citizen leadership, enabling them to lead engaged and values-driven lives, while making it possible for others to do the same.
The Fellowship highlights the concept of flourishing to help students envision the forms of engagement they would like to see on Grounds to enhance the well-being of their student community, or some subset within it. Through a series of reflective activities, direct mentorship, and academic engagement, Fellows learn a combination of contemplative and ethnographic methods, dispositions, and practices to create change within themselves and the communities they care about.  

Learn more:

2023-2024 Cohort

Top RowGeshani Bandara, Stevie Bracey, Sofia Coppola, Quana Dennis, Will Erdmann, Jennifer Garcia-Lopez. Middle Row: Asha Gupta, Kate Johnson, Anu Karippal, Misa Layne, Petr Nohel, Kriti Shelke. Bottom Row: Peihong Shi, Skyla Shumway, Rahul Sunilkumar, Cindy Tran, Selene Zeng 

Geshani Bandara
she/her  |  International Student 
Geshani is a doctoral student from Sri Lanka who is studying Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In her fellowship year, Geshani is interested in creating spaces and opportunities for international students to practice their language skills and practice develop mindfulness skills. 
Stevie Bracey
he/him  |  Student Athlete 
Stevie is a second-year sociology student studying criminology in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He is also a member of the varsity men’s football team. Over the course of his fellowship year, Stevie hopes to improve transportation opportunities for student athletes, focusing on their access to and up-keep of bicycles, mopeds, and scooters. 
Sofia Coppola
she/her  |  Student Athlete 
Sofia is a third-year foreign affairs major in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in addition to being a member of the varsity women’s rowing team. Sofia’s fellowship year will focus on creating spaces and opportunities for student athletes to engage with nature, community, and their own wellbeing. 
Quana Dennis
he/him  |  Transfer Student 
Quana is a master's student in the School of Education and Human Development studying curriculum and instruction. Quana hopes to use his fellowship year to enhance the “involvement of transfer students on Grounds...and make UVA feel like home.” He is interested in peer mentoring, student spaces, and innovative orientation programming. 
Will Erdmann
he/him  |  Student Athlete 
Will is a first-year student in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and is interested in studying commerce. He is also a member of the varsity men’s lacrosse team. Will hope to help student athletes develop meaningful relationships with other student athletes through the development of advisory committees. 
Jennifer Garcia-Lopez
she/her  |  Transfer Student 
Jennifer is a fourth-year transfer student studying sociology in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Through her time in the fellowship, Jennifer plans to develop a transfer student organization to provide “a safe space for transfer students and eliminate the feeling of loneliness felt when navigating university life, and strengthening the feeling of belonging instead.” 
Asha Gupta 
she/her  |   Transfer Student 
Asha is a third-year transfer student studying economics in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Asha is interested in creating a peer-mentoring program for transfer students that matches based on the interests of individuals beyond their scholarly pursuits to “ensure connections beyond academics.” 
Kate Johnson
she/her  |  Student Athlete 
Kate is a second-year biology student in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as well as a member of the varsity women’s volleyball team. The schedules of both student athletes and STEM majors are demanding but Kate believes they are not mutually exclusive.  During the fellowship, Kate wants to help student athletes navigate studying in STEM majors, helping them follow their passions and interests. 
Anu Karippal 
she/her  |  International Student 
Anu is a doctoral student from India who is studying anthropology in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In her fellowship year, Anu hopes to “create a community where international students feel seen and belong.... [she] envisions a safe space for students to speak and listen to each other, brainstorm ideal strategies to navigate difficult situations and build collaborations with domestic students, and come up with daily practices that can ground us and make us feel at ‘home’.”  
Misa Layne
she/her  |  International Student, Transfer Student 
Misa is a second-year transfer student from Finland who is studying political sciences in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Misa wants to “empower our college community by raising awareness and providing practical resources that enable informed food choices, supporting personal well-being and sustainability, and championing our local food systems.” 
Petr Nohel
he/him  |  International Student, Student Athlete, Transfer Student 
Petr is a third-year transfer student from the Czech Republic who is studying sociology and media studies in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Petr also plays on the varsity men’s squash team. In his fellowship year, Petr hopes to develop a multi-media storytelling opportunity for international student athletes. 
Kriti Shelke
she/her  |   International Student 
Kriti is a first-year student from India planning to study physics in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She wants to develop a blog for international students applying to UVA. She hopes to “provide a welcoming platform where international students can connect, communicate, and exchange information more easily... fostering a supportive and tightly-knit community, making the transition to UVA smoother for future international students.” 
Peihong Shi
she/her  |   International Student 
Peihong is a third-year studying commerce in the McIntire School of Commerce. She is from China. In her fellowship year, Peihong wants to continue the work of previous Citizen Leaders Fellows by further developing the Global Peer-to-Peer mentoring program funded by the International Students and Scholars Program. 
Skyla Shumway
she/her  |  Transfer Student 
Skyla is a fourth-year transfer student studying biology and data analytics in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Skyla plans to influence the orientation experience for transfer students. She envisions a peer mentoring program with enhanced support throughout their first year. 
Rahul Sunilkumar
he/him  |  Transfer Student 
Rahul is a second-year transfer student studying pre-commerce in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Through his fellowship, Rahul hopes to help transfer students create meaningful connections beyond the transfer student community. 
Cindy Tran
she/her  |  Transfer Student 
Cindy is a third-year transfer student in the School of Nursing. Cindy wants to transform the incoming transfer student experience through a variety of avenues, including orientation, peer mentoring, and creation of social spaces. She hopes transfer students can “start off [their] UVA experience with a strong sense of belonging and community.” 
Selene Zeng
she/her  |  International Student 
Selene is a third-year student from China who is studying cognitive science in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Selene hopes to foster mutual respect and enhance the holistic well-being of students by creating opportunities for students to explore and share about their spirituality, faith, and religion. 

Meet members of past cohorts:

Sample Fellowship Projects 

  • Creation of the Global Peer-to-Peer Mentorship program
  • Develop and sustain an affinity space for Black students from African countries 
  • Create affinity group for international student athletes 
  • Create a football and leadership skill coaching program for local high school students 
  • Partner with the Honor Committee to develop nuanced training for international students 
  • Develop a guide for incoming international graduate students detailing life & study at UVA 
  • For a complete list of 2022-23 Fellows and their projects, see here and here
  • Questions: Ellen Graves -