The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the International Division are proud to welcome the fourth and fifth cohorts of the King-Morgridge Scholars to campus. Coming from a variety of backgrounds and pursuing many different fields, all of the scholars commit to applying their talents towards poverty alleviation in their home countries and are representative of the Wisconsin Idea, influencing the lives of others beyond the boundaries of the classroom. We hope to outline some of their achievements and goals below:
Natalia Betancourt Rodriguez (Cohort IV) is a sophomore from Colombia studying biochemistry and global health. She is drawn to these fields through a fascination for science and the different health outcomes for people all over the world. In Colombia, Natalia worked on a project focusing on the perceptions of traditional and professional medicine in differing populations. At UW–Madison, she is a member of the Global Health Club and the Unexplored Medical Professions organization. In the future, she hopes to work in ethnographic research and help make a positive impact on healthcare in not only Colombia, but Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
“And a lot of the different health outcomes that a person can have is strictly related to their income and the social status that they’re born in. So just looking at these inequalities, and how to solve them from the moment a person is born, really interests me” – Natalia Rodriguez
Asish Das (Cohort IV) is a freshman from India hoping to study physics and mathematics. His interest in mathematics stems from his Pestalozzi international scholarship in the United Kingdom, where he was part of a mathematics club, as well as an astronomical society and a debate club. At UW–Madison, he is a member of the Physics Club and is looking into the Madison chapter of Engineers without Borders and the International Internship Program. Taking a variety of courses his first semester, Asish hopes to continue with clubs and organizations that he is passionate about (including the Badger Cricket Club) and to find internships and get involved in research on campus.
Nilroth Ly (Cohort IV) is a sophomore from Cambodia studying engineering. He takes a particular interest in agricultural science and biological engineering, stemming from his project-based boarding academy in Cambodia. There, he worked on a project studying childhood stunting in floating villages due to fish-heavy diets, seeking to increase agricultural diversity and nutrition. Drawn to UW–Madison through both the agricultural program and the King-Morgridge Scholas Program, Nilroth hopes to continue with his work in agriculture projects in public health and nutrition by applying to the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship as well. In the future, Nilroth wants to give back to his community in any way he can and work in the public sphere to affect positive change in farming methods and infrastructure.
Caleb Kipchumba Ng’etich (Cohort IV) is a sophomore from Kenya exploring actuarial science and finance. He has taken courses in mathematics, German language, economics, and computer science. Over the summer, Caleb participated in a boot camp with the International Association of Black Actuaries and carried that passion to the UW Actuarial Science Club, where he connects with upperclassmen and mentors. He has also continued his work with the Rotary Club from his time in Kenya and also interns with the Associated Students of Madison, where he hopes to make an impact on the UW–Madison community. One of his goals as part of poverty alleviation is to focus on education and economic development, creating opportunities for youth in his home country through both training and well-paying positions.
“I think when you do create an impact, you need young people to be very educated. For me, I thought it was important that we combine education with economic empowerment so the youth create the opportunities for themselves.” – Caleb Kipchumba Ng’etich
Christine Nasieku Lekishon (Cohort IV) is a freshman from Kenya currently exploring economics and computer science within the College of Letters and Science. She hopes to work towards empowering women in business and education through increasing opportunities and role models in her home country. On campus, she is a member of the Women in Economics and Badger Consulting clubs, as well as the African Students Association. She looks forward to applying to the Business School and pursuing all available opportunities and focusing on personal growth throughout her time at UW–Madison.
Nicte Aguillon Jimenez (Cohort IV) is a sophomore from Mexico majoring in computer science and is also exploring adding a certificate in game design. She is interested in social change and caring for the environment. Due to the pandemic, she was the only King-Morgridge Scholar admitted for the fall 2020 term who was able to arrive on-campus to begin studies. Related to her computer science studies, she is engaged in an artificial intelligence research project on campus. As she is also passionate about women’s issues, a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies is a future possibility.
Dina Cianca Castillo (Cohort V) is a freshman from Panama who plans to pursue biology and chemistry at UW–Madison. In Panama, Dina was a student at the International School in Panama and participated in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, focusing on cyanobacteria and nitrogen-fixing bacteria for sugarcane. The competition allowed her to talk to well-known researchers in Panama and visit research labs. At UW–Madison, Dina hopes to continue her work in biology, looking into Women in Science & Engineering. Further during her time at UW–Madison and beyond, she hopes to gain experience in research and possibly work in international research labs.
Faith Murei (Cohort V) is a freshman from Kenya exploring majors in economics and life science communications. She is inspired by contemporary issues in waste management in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya, hoping to work towards financial incentivization for a rework and closer examination of how the Kenyan government and citizens approach dumps and the environment as a whole. At UW–Madison, Faith is a member of the Women in Science and Education Research and Interfaith organizations while also exploring Women in Economics, as she finds working with other women in science as a source of personal support. After UW–Madison, Faith hopes to return to Kenya with a clear understanding of how to start to deal with waste management issues from an economic and communications perspective in the public sector.
“I ultimately think, because the environment is for everyone, then everyone should get involved in taking care of it because it essentially is just taking care of ourselves.” – Faith Murei
Syprian Omondi Oduor (Cohort V) is a freshman from Kenya interested in computer science, economics, and political science. He is exploring a variety of interests and works as an intern with the Associated Students of Madison, where he aspires to make UW–Madison a better place. He is also a member of the Economics Students Association, where he takes interest in the tutoring, workshops, and networking provided by the student organization. In his time at UW–Madison and through the King-Morgridge Scholars Program, Syprian wants to learn how to best provide opportunities for students in his home country and serve as the bridge between them and their dreams.
“So, the ideas that I’ve seen work, the ideas that I believe, can work to sort of create that direct impact to the community. I believe that I’ll be able to sort of help empower a group of people who will go on to empower the next group of people and it will be a continuous sort of impact.” – Syprian Oduor
Sophat Seng (Cohort V) is a freshman from Cambodia exploring majors in civil engineering and environmental sustainability. In Cambodia, he worked on a project designing hydroponic and aquaponic systems for his project-based boarding academy and interned with Engineers without Borders in Australia to support and increase awareness of clean energy in Cambodia. He is inspired by agriculture systems back home and aims to develop engineering and water systems in farming. At UW–Madison in his first semester, Sophat hopes to solidify his college experience and make connections both with other students and professors.