2019 HRI Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to the 2019-2020 scholarship award recipients!

These $5,000 scholarships are awarded to academically outstanding undergraduate students who are enrolled full time at the University of Connecticut. There are various eligibility criteria for each scholarship that is available but all applicant must be either minoring or majoring in human rights, demonstrate academic achievement and financial need.  These scholarships are supported by the Open Society Foundations and by the Mark S. Rudy Award


Fizza AlamFizza Alam, Mark S. Rudy Award

Fizza Alam is a Pakistani-American who is double majoring Political Science and Economics whilst minoring in Human rights. Growing up in the inner-city, Fizza witnessed first-hand the economic and racial disparities in the Connecticut education system. Due to her passion for education she is certified as a CT paraprofessional and has volunteered and interned as an educational assistant in underserved communities. Her experience of having attended and aided in Title I public schools are what inspired her to better understand institutional socioeconomic injustice.

Fizza is also the recipient of the Undergraduate Economics Louis D. Traurig award, the Undergraduate Political Science Augusta H. Gerberich, and is a 2018 Babbidge Scholar. As an undergraduate, she has researched with the Crowd Counting Consortium, the Museums for Civil Discourse Project, and as a Bennet Scholar for Professor Zehra Arat. Fizza has written articles for the UConn Political Review entitled “Brexit: European History and the Implications for Democracy” and “Guantanamo Bay, Cruel Punishment, and Freedom From Torture.” This summer she will be interning for newly elected Congresswoman Jahana Hayes; Jahana Hayes is the first African American woman to be elected to congress from the state of Connecticut.

In the future Fizza wishes to continue her education by attending graduate school for developmental economics before pursuing a career in humanitarian law. She wishes to give back to her communities, which have made her passionate about understanding the economic and legal frameworks of defacto segregation, poverty, and development.

Sydney ElkaySydney Elkay, Mark S. Rudy Award

Sydney Elkhay is a rising sophomore majoring in human rights and political science with minors in history and Arabic. They are extremely passionate about human rights activism, particularly LGBTQ+ rights. On campus, they are the treasurer of the Uconn Democrats as well as the secretary of UConn’s Amnesty International chapter. They are in the Human Rights and Action Learning Community, and also have an internship with the NGO EveryWoman Treaty, which is working to create a UN treaty that will prevent violence against women internationally. In the future, they intend to use law and politics in order to advance human rights both domestically and globally. When they aren’t being an unpaid intern, writing testimony for bills, or phone banking, Sydney is typically at some club meeting on campus or watching Netflix.



Iqra Malik, Wiktor Osiatyński  Award

Bio coming soon

Susan NaseriSusan Naseri, Alan B. Slifka Award

Susan Naseri, from Queens, NY, is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Human Rights. In addition to being a student in the Special Program in Law and the Honors Program, Susan was named an NCHC Portz Interdisciplinary Fellow, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar, and a Truman finalist. On campus, she served as President of the Middle Eastern Student Association, a member of the 2018 Leadership Legacy cohort, and a recipient of the Cohen Student Leadership Scholarship. During her time at UConn, Susan has conducted research on violence against women and girls as a Bennett Research Assistant, and recipient of the SHARE grant. As a Holster scholar, Susan conducted qualitative interviews with the administrative heads of four NGOs across CT, to determine if their policies and programs offered to Middle Eastern refugees were focused more on acculturation or assimilation. In the Fall 2018 semester, she served as the Human Rights Intern at UConn Law’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic, where she documented country conditions research to corroborate the claims of their clients who were seeking asylum in the United States. Building on this passion to help asylum seekers and refugees, as a University Scholar, she will be continuing similar research with NGOs and refugees in Amman, Jordan. In the future, she aims to create her own non-governmental organization dedicated to providing legal aid and helping refugees integrate into society. 

Olivia Swanson, Open Society Foundation AwardOlivia Swanson

Olivia Swanson is a sophomore at UConn majoring in Human Rights and Natural Resources. She is passionate about social justice and the environment. On campus, she lives in the Human Rights in Action learning community, participates in UConn Outing Club trips, and is a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society UConn chapter.