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 graduating with an MA in global affairs from the Jackson Institute, where she focused on the intersection of disinformation and democracy. During her two years at Yale, Elen served as a Kerry Fellow (2021–22), volunteered as a tutor with Bridges ESL, and was among the students leading Tsai CITY’s innovation workshops. While pursuing her MA, Elen served as a junior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, and consulted for research centers and multilateral organizations focusing on democracy and technology. She began her career at Freedom House, where she was a research analyst for the organization’s flagship reports on political rights and civil liberties, and also led special research on modern authoritarianism. Immediately prior to Yale, Elen managed public programs at Columbia University’s Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy. Elen grew up between Armenia and the United States and earned a BA in history and government, summa cum laude, from Cornell University.

Drew D'Alelio photo
Drew D'Alelio

Drew D’Alelio is a joint MA/MBA passionate about economic development, clean energy, and impact investing. He has experience working on these issues in government, multilateral institutions, and the financial sector. After graduation he will be joining Connecticut Innovations, the state’s venture capital arm, where he will be standing up a state-backed investment fund to invest in green technology companies to drive improved economic development outcomes for the state.

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 third-year joint degree candidate in the Master in Public Policy and Master of Forestry programs at Yale University. She is interested in forest management, forest policy, and climate resilience. Tristan is a nine-year veteran of the Army, where she served as a transportation officer and later as a special operations civil affairs offficer. As a Civil Affairs Team chief, she led a four-person team in Moldova. Her work there focused on assessing civil conditions in under-engaged Moldovan regions and conducting community-level development assistance to strengthen Moldova’s resilience and support its partnership with the U.S. Tristan graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2012 with a bachelor's in international relations and 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 graduating with a Master of Advanced Study in global affairs. During her time at Yale, Sarah was a Kerry Fellow and served as a course assistant for Ambassador Anne Patterson and a board member of Jackson Women. Sarah came to Yale from the Central Intelligence Agency, where she had served as a political analyst on the Middle East since 2015, supporting U.S. national security objectives through written analysis and briefings to senior U.S. policymakers. She served as the executive assistant in CIA’s Iran Mission Center from 2020-21, and as a briefer in the region in 2018. She was also a member of the inaugural class of McCain National Security and Counterterrorism Fellows, a cohort of rising national security leaders from the Five Eyes countries, from 2019-20. After graduation, Sarah will return to CIA. Sarah graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in political science from the University of Chicago in 2015.
Emanuel Ritschard photo
Emanuel Ritschard

Emanuel Ritschard is a second-year MPP/MBA joint degree candidate studying business models and public policies to finance global climate action and the clean energy transition. After his first year at the Jackson School, he worked as a Finance Associate at the Connecticut Greenbank, deepening his understanding of clean energy finance and quasi-public financing of climate policies. Before coming to Yale, Emanuel worked as a counsellor to the Director of Trade and Agriculture at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, synthesizing the organization’s analytical work and contextualizing it with current developments. Previously, he supported diplomatic efforts to strengthen Sino-Swiss cooperation in science and education as an officer at the Swiss Embassy in Beijing. Emanuel graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Economics and a secondary degree in East Asian Studies. His studies of the economic and political relations of East Asia included academic and professional experiences in China, Hong Kong and Viet Nam. He is a Swiss national and also speaks German and French fluently.

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.