Pictured above, from left: Jackson graduate students Sarah Morell, Drew D’Alelio, Elen Aghekyan, Tristan Irwin, Emanuel Ritschard, and Brianda Romero Castelán

Nine Jackson students have been named Kerry Fellows for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The Jackson students, including three undergraduate Global Affairs majors and six graduate students, are among 23 students selected this year. Read more

Part of the Kerry Initiative founded by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change and the 68th U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry YC ’66, Kerry Fellows collaborate with U.S. policy-makers on leading-edge research and high-profile publications for a global audience touching on issues from the global environment to democracy and technology.

“This is our largest class of Kerry Fellows ever, for a very good reason. The caliber of applicants was so remarkable, we had our work cut out for us making the final selections,” said David E. Wade, Director of the Kerry Initiative and former US State Department Chief of Staff.

“These are extraordinary students, many of whom who have already served their country in uniform or in civilian security and foreign policy positions in government. Already, our new Kerry Fellows have been on the ground at COP26 where they met the diplomats leading the US effort, Secretary Kerry and Yale’s own Sue Biniaz. It’s an exciting time for everyone to contribute towards a safer world. We’re looking forward to a productive year working closely with each of them.”

The nine Jackson students are:

Elen Aghekyan photo
Elen Aghekyan

Elen Aghekyan is an M.A. student at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. At Yale, she focuses on the intersection of disinformation and democratic resilience, and particularly how communities around the world are confronting unique vulnerabilities to disinformation, including through media literacy and civic education. She began her career at the democracy watchdog Freedom House, where she was a research analyst for the organization’s flagship Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press projects as well as special research on modern authoritarianism. Elen also managed the organization's Europe and Eurasia consultant research teams. While continuing her education, Elen serves as a consultant for democracy and human rights NGOs, providing as a researcher and writer. Immediately prior to Yale, Elen worked for Columbia University's Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy, where she led public programs and external communications. Elen grew up between Armenia and the United States, and earned a B.A. in history and government, summa cum laude, from Cornell University. At Cornell, she was a Frederic Conger Wood Undergraduate Research Fellow and a recipient of the Anne Macintyre Litchfield Prize in History.

Drew D'Alelio photo
Drew D'Alelio

Drew D’Alelio is a third-year joint degree student at the Yale School of Management and Jackson Institute of Global Affairs focusing on climate and infrastructure finance and international economic cooperation. Prior to Yale, Drew worked at the Center for Global Development where he evaluated the effectiveness of foreign aid programs and development finance institutions. While there, he helped conduct a survey of development banks and their efforts to finance the sustainable development goals and climate action. Prior to that he worked at the National Endowment for Democracy, supporting the grant-making process for civil society and anti-corruption groups around the world. While at Yale, Drew has held internships at the US Development Finance Corporation’s renewable energy and infrastructure finance team where he supported the underwriting process for solar, wind, and water projects in Asia and Latin America, the OECD’s sustainable development finance division where he helped write a publication analyzing how financial institutions can shift their portfolios toward sustainable investments, and at the UN Conference on Trade and Development where he published a paper comparing green stimulus packages in the 2008 and 2020 economic crises. On campus, Drew is also the co-president of the Economic Development Club and Business and Politics Club, and supports the Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY). Drew graduated from Northwestern University in 2016 where he majored in Political Science and International Studies.

Jackson DuPont photo
Jackson DuPont

Jackson du Pont is a senior at Yale College studying Global Affairs. He is interested in how diplomacy can be used to address transnational threats such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the impact of emerging technologies. Previously, he researched Iranian-American relations with the National Security Archive on their Iran Documentation Project. In 2020, Jackson interned with the Brookings Institute and their Center for Middle Eastern Policy, examining democratic promotion and disinformation campaigns. Recently, he served as a research associate at the Council on Strategic Risks where he researched bioweapon proliferation and the impact of emerging technologies on nuclear decision making. For his senior Capstone, Jackson is working on a project with the U.N. to explore policy options for the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.

Tristan Irwin photo
Tristan Irwin

Tristan Irwin is a joint degree candidate in the Master in Public Policy and Master of Forestry programs at Yale University. She is interested in green infrastructure management, environmental policy, and the intersection of environmental and social justice. Tristan is a nine-year veteran of the Army, where she served first as a Transportation Officer and then as a special operations Civil Affairs Officer. As a Civil Affairs Team Chief, she spent a cumulative year deployed to Moldova under Special Operations Command-Europe, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the host nation. Her team assessed civil conditions in under-engaged Moldovan regions and conducted community-level development assistance to strengthen resilience against foreign malign influence. Tristan graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2012 with a BS in international relations and a BS in German.

Shaezmina Khan photo
Shaezmina Khan

Shaezmina  Khan is a junior at Yale College studying Global Affairs with a certificate in Human Rights from Yale Law School. She is interested in foreign policy, international security, and human rights, with a special focus on the Middle East and North Africa region.  Shaezmina has served as a legislative intern for Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, where she worked closely with the D.C. foreign policy team to conduct policy research. She has also worked as a Project Assistant at the UN Democracy Fund, Policy Fellow at the Muslim  Public Affairs Council, and an Intern at Worldpay Inc. focusing on financial markets and quantitative research. On campus, Shaezmina is the Executive Director of Yale International Relations Association, Yale’s largest undergraduate student organization with  a $600,000 annual budget and 300+ members. She also serves as President of the Muslim Students Association and is a Research Assistant at Yale Law School. Shaezmina is from Princeton, New Jersey, and is originally Pakistani-Kashmiri. Upon graduation, she hopes  to attend law school and pursue a career in public service. 

Claudia Meng photo
Claudia Meng

Claudia Meng is a senior at Yale College studying Ethics, Politics and Economics with a certificate in Statistics and Data Science. She is interested in economic development and data governance, with a focus on financial inclusion and protecting data rights of vulnerable groups. Claudia has conducted policy research for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UNHCR. She has also worked at the Middle East Investment Initiative in Tunisia to increase SMB capital access, at Covid Act Now advising government partners on data interpretation, and interned at Eurasia Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit. On campus, Claudia co-chairs the Student Advisory Board at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, where she focuses on promoting interdisciplinary entrepreneurship and innovation. Claudia grew up between China, the US, and France, and speaks all three languages. Upon graduation, she hopes to work at the intersection of technology, policy and business to advance inclusive development.

Sarah Morell photo
Sarah Morell
Sarah Morell is an MAS candidate at Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Since 2015, she has served as a political analyst on the Middle East at the Central Intelligence Agency, helping to support U.S. national security objectives through written analysis and briefings to senior U.S. policymakers. She served a six-month tour as a briefer in the region in 2018 and was in the inaugural class of McCain National Security and Counterterrorism Fellows from 2020-21. Sarah graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in political science from the University of Chicago in 2015. During college, she was selected as a Presidential Fellow though the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, an undergraduate fellow through the University of Chicago’s Program on International Security Policy, and the University of Chicago’s delegate to the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She also studied abroad at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, focusing on international relations of the Middle East. Sarah lives in New Haven with her husband, who is a student at Yale Law School.
Emanuel Ritschard photo
Emanuel Ritschard

Emanuel Ritschard graduated from Harvard University in 2017 with a BA in economics and a secondary degree in East Asian studies and Chinese. Emanuel’s undergraduate studies explored the economic and political relations of East Asia and included academic and professional experiences in China, Hong Kong and Viet Nam. After graduation, Emanuel returned to Beijing to work as a junior officer at the Swiss Embassy to China, where he supported diplomatic efforts to strengthen cooperation in science and education. From 2018 to 2021, Emanuel worked as a junior counsellor to the director of trade and agriculture at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. During his time at the OECD, he synthesized the Directorate’s analytical work and contextualized it with current developments across trade and agricultural policy. At Jackson, Emanuel plans to expand on his experience in economic policy analysis by studying the intersection of business decisions, national policies and the institutions that govern international economic relations. Emanuel is a Swiss national and is also fluent in German and French.

Brianda Romero Castelán photo
Brianda Romero Castelán
Brianda Romero Castelán was born in Puebla, Mexico. At Yale, she seeks to attain a better understanding of the nexus between underdevelopment, violence, and human rights violations. She is interested in focusing her studies on the challenges multilateral organizations face in finding solutions to these problems, particularly in a context in which isolationist discourses have regained strength. Brianda graduated from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in 2017, where she studied a B.A. in international relations. During her undergraduate studies, she interned for the Mexican Mission to the United Nations and the Mexican Embassy in France; worked as a research assistant on Mexican foreign policy, Latin America, and human rights issues; completed an exchange program at Sciences Po Paris, and volunteered at ITAM’s Human Trafficking Clinic. Her honors thesis explored the international protection of contemporary slaves, analyzing how international mechanisms and laws regarding enslavement still fail to protect these victims, despite their evolution in the past century. Upon graduation, Brianda joined the Mexican Federal Administration. She served as an advisor to the Undersecretariat for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, centering on Mexico’s role in regional organizations and integration mechanisms such as the Organization of American States, the Pacific Alliance, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. She later joined the Global Economic Intelligence Unit at the Ministry of Economy, where she took part in data-oriented projects aimed at promoting the economic development of her country. Brianda is a Fulbright-García Robles grantee.