Office of Student Success | Colin Powell School

Office of Student Success

Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service

The Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service is a two-year program for undergraduate students who want to pursue careers in government, nonprofit organizations, and other forms of public service. It is particularly for students who immigrated to the US or whose parents immigrated to the US, as well as those who demonstrate interest in exploring social issues that impact African American and other underserved communities. The fellowship prepares you with the skills necessary to tackle issues of public concern. You acquire a broad knowledge of political institutions and the policymaking process, and learn about public service opportunities. Through seminars, internships, and professional development activities, you will explore methods of creating lasting social change.

If you’re interested in public service and can commit to a two-year fellowship, this opportunity is for you! No prior experience is necessary — just a desire to learn about and work toward social change.

The fellowship starts in the Fall semester each year.

Applications for the 2024-2026 fellowship are now closed.

Program Contact

Christine Garmendiz Headshot

Fellowships and Student Success Program Coordinator

Christine Garmendiz

Program Contact

Director of Fellowship Programs & Office of Student Success

Debbie Cheng


Each fellow will receive a maximum of $21,500 for two years. Fellows receive a $4,000 scholarship per semester for four semesters, fully covering in-state tuition and fees. You are also eligible to receive an additional stipend of $5,500 for a summer internship. 

Students who are in the Macaulay Honors College or Excelsior Scholarship program will receive a $2,500 stipend instead of the $4,000 scholarship each semester. This is because your programs already pay for your tuition and fees.

Support comes from the Fulvio V. Dobrich New Americans Scholarship Fund and the New York Life Foundation.


Over the course of two full academic years, you are introduced to the key themes of the program: leadership, public service, and teamwork. The seminars explore a variety of pressing public problems and social justice issues; the foundations of policymaking; career paths in public service and the nonprofit sector; leadership and project management skills; and teamwork. You will meet guest speakers representing a variety of public service careers and issues. These seminars are mandatory for fellows and take place on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 pm during the fall and spring semesters. Each seminar comes with 3 SSC credits.

The first-year seminar is taught by Prof. Debbie Cheng and explores issues related to racial, economic, and social inequality. It is a reading and discussion-intensive seminar, offering a survey of critical topics such as environmental justice, US and global poverty, and social movements. We read works by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Stacey Abrams, Matthew Desmond, and Catherine Coleman Flowers. The seminar also provides professional development opportunities, enabling you to explore how you might address some of these issues.

The second-year seminar, taught by Prof. Nick Gulotta, builds upon the first-year foundation and equips fellows with the tools and techniques for collective problem-solving and public policymaking. Fellows learn about budgets, communication strategies, and advocacy methods, all in the service of addressing the issues you’re interested in.

Summer Internship

We encourage you to participate in a summer internship between the first and second years of the fellowship that fits your goals, as well as those of the program. Full-time, unpaid interns who work for 300 hours at nonprofit organizations or government agencies can receive a $5,500 stipend. This stipend will be adjusted for paid or shorter internships.

Past fellows have interned at Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s Washington DC office, South Bronx Unite, I’RAISE Girls & Boys International, and the International Rescue Committee.

Professional Development

We emphasize professional development in the seminar by helping you plan for your careers, develop your resumes and cover letters, and network. We invite a range of guest speakers, including alumni fellows, to discuss what they do and how they got there. Fellows are also required to attend special events and networking opportunities.


Applicants for the 2024-2026 fellowship:

  • must be full-time undergraduate students at CCNY from Fall 2024 to Spring 2026
  • can be from any school/major
  • have no GPA requirement or citizenship requirement
  • must demonstrate interest in a career in public service

Application Questions

Please upload responses to the following questions through the application form. Write your name on all application materials.

Personal Statement: Tell us about your scholarly interests and experiences in college. What factors shaped your interests? What are your career goals, and how are they related to public service? Upload an essay that is between 150 and 250 words.

Essay 1: Describe an issue or a problem that you are passionate about. This may be related to a project that you participated in, or it might be an issue that you have yet to tackle. What are the root causes of the problem? What recommendations would you make to policymakers, organizations, community members, and/or other vested interests that might help address the problem or give you more information? Upload an essay that is between 500 and 750 words.

Essay 2: What are your career goals, and how are they related to public policy and/or public service? How do you think the Colin Powell School Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service might help you achieve those goals? Upload an essay that is between 500 and 750 words.

Recommendation Letters: You must provide two recommendation letters, one of which must come from a professor, although that professor does not have to teach at CCNY. Advise your recommenders to email their letters to by the application deadline.

2023-2024 Colin Powell Fellows (Year 1)

Abram Morris

Abram Morris is a 4th year Architecture student at City College with a passion for public infrastructure. Abram was drawn to CCNY because of its history as the premier public college in the City of New York.  He believes that a well-designed built environment is required to build a better quality of life, racial justice and environmental justice. The Colin Powell Fellowship drew Abram because of its focus on providing fellows with the tools they need to understand and act on the public policy matters that shape our day to day lives. Abram hopes to take these lessons to dismantle oppressive urban planning schemes and develop practices that protect vulnerable communities and the natural environment. 

Alba Suarez

Alba is currently in her second year at CCNY, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Biology. She has a wide range of interests, from neuroscience research to public policy. Alba has been actively involved in NYPIRG as an intern and project leader for the Consumer Justice group since starting at City College. Her experiences coordinating the campus segment of NYPIRG’s state-wide legal support hotline has motivated her to continue working in public service. She has also worked as a volunteer in the Child Life department at Harlem Hospital, and hopes to combine both of these interests to explore career opportunities in public health. She believes in the importance of preventative health and aims to use the skills developed through the Colin Powell Fellowship to make a difference in this field.

Amy Thomas

Amy Thomas is an undergraduate student in the Sophie Davis/CUNY School of Medicine BS/MD program, majoring in Biomedical Science. Throughout her life, Amy has been fueled by a passion for public service and advocacy, which has served as a driving force behind her unwavering commitment to creating positive change within her community. As an aspiring physician, Amy recognizes the critical need for healthcare to be more diverse, equitable, inclusive, affordable, and accessible for all. She is committed to making that a reality, so individuals receive the care they need and deserve. In her free time, Amy enjoys playing volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse and spends time with family and friends. 

Billie Estrine

Billie Estrine is a junior at CCNY majoring in political science and double minoring in English and human rights. Billie is passionate about human rights, social justice, and advocating for immigrants from Central and South America through legal services and community outreach. Billie’s interest in the legal profession encouraged her to become the President of the CCNY Pre-Law Club. She is also interested in the history and culture of music, especially in the 70s and 80s when a new generation of musicians found their community for the first time. The podcast No Dogs in Space helps her understand music as a social statement. Furthermore, studying English at CCNY has helped Billie explore her love of literature and how she can use research and writing skills cultivated in undergraduate classes to work on literary explorations into music history.

Danny Hernandez

Danny Hernandez is a sophomore at CCNY majoring in Political Science. Born to Mexican parents and raised in NYC, he’s discovered the hardships and lack of resources immigrant families face, such as food insecurity and language barriers. As a result, Danny is inspired to work with local organizations throughout the boroughs that assist in providing resources for immigrant families. His interest in the Colin Powell School stemmed from volunteer work with BuildOn and working with culturally diverse groups at numerous jobs. He hopes to learn more about the culturally rich stories that surround New York City. He enjoys journaling, reading, and watching soccer in his free time. 

Jack Cameron

Jack Cameron is a sophomore in the CUNY Baccalaureate Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies at City College, where he is pursuing a course of study in global public health and neurobiology. He is an Eagle Scout of Troop 33 Hampstead and a Jeannette K. Watson Fellow. Jack worked as an EMT in his home state of New Hampshire before moving to New York. This work in emergency services has inspired him to pursue a career as a public health physician, and he dreams of being a doctor that can not only direct medical care, but also understand and advise policy making, providing both immediate care to patients and preventative care through legislation. Jack aims to integrate a “people-perspective” into healthcare and use his clinical experience in emergency medicine systems to better advise policy, design protocols, and train providers to suit the needs of communities across the world. He believes that a great doctor should be both a student of medicine and a student of culture—that it is vital that physicians understand the context within which they work, the communities that they serve, and the people with whom they interact. 

Josue Ramos Carpio

Josue is a junior majoring in Political Science and Sociology. He is from Mexico and grew up in the Bronx. He went to Xavier High School, where he found a passion for starting conversations that were not typically discussed, and began his social justice work his freshman year. He joined the CCNY community specifically for the Colin Powell School’s fellowship opportunities where he has been a part of the Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice Social Change fellowship and Mixner LGBTQ+ Equal Rights Fellowship. The CCNY community has allowed Josue to take part in the Undergraduate Student Government and the Pre-Law Club. He enjoys reading, live music, and hiking! 

Louis Muamba

Louis is a third culture person, and a remarkable individual with a culturally diverse background. Hailing from Congo DRC and raised in Mexico City, He possesses a truly one-of-a-kind cultural perspective.  After earning an associate’s degree from LaGuardia Community College, he is now pursuing further education at the City College of New York. He is majoring in International Studies with a focus on Development, and he also has a minor in Human Rights. His deep passion for global issues and varied experiences promise to make a significant contribution to the world. During his leisure time, he engages in long-distance running and successfully completed his inaugural New York Marathon in 2022. This accomplishment serves as a testament to his perseverance, discipline, and commitment to excellence.


Monica Azizi

Monica is a sophomore double majoring in Anthropology and International Studies in Public Relations. She comes from a humble familial background and grew up in The Bronx raised by a single mother. She attends CCNY and the Colin Powell School to pursue her passion in learning leadership skills and having access to some of the best education she can have access to within the state. Monica is an ambitious student who has a strong passion to learn as many skills as she can. 

Paula Rivas

Paula Rivas is a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science. She was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. Growing up in a multicultural community and witnessing the challenges faced by immigrants in the United States, Paula has developed a passion for understanding the complexities of immigration policies and their impact on individuals and communities. With a strong commitment to social justice, Paula’s goal is to work towards creating more equitable and just policies for immigrants, and to support individuals who are navigating the complex immigration system. In their free time, Paula enjoys video editing and staying up to date on current politics. They also love to travel and explore new cultures, which has further fueled their interest in immigration and cultural exchange.

Rafath Gnabode

Rafath Gnabode is currently a junior at CCNY. She is pursuing a major in Economics and a minor in International Relations. Her academics have played a crucial role in shaping interests in serving others and positively impacting their lives. As an Economics major, she’s gaining a broad understanding of how economic policies, institutions, and principles influence societies and impact people’s lives. Rafath had the opportunity to intern with NFBPW last summer. She was responsible for writing a guidebook for newcomers to the United States. This project involved extensive research and collaboration with community partners to identify the programs and resources available for newcomers that they may not be aware of. This internship helped her to discover her passion for creating policies that promote economic growth, social welfare, and sustainable development, with a particular focus on vulnerable communities. In Rafath’s free time, you’ll find her reading, hanging out with friends, exploring, and learning to play the piano. 

Richard Perez

Richard Perez is a non-traditional student, returning to CCNY to pursue a degree in Psychology and Business Management.  About seven years ago, Richard lost most of his vision. He has encountered many obstacles in receiving the needed services and training to regain his independence. This experience has taught Richard how to advocate for himself and others in similar situations. His goal is to attend graduate school to become a Clinical Social Worker to advocate, guide, and enrich the lives of people with disabilities in his community. Richard enjoys cooking international cuisines and listening to technology, business, and world news podcasts.

Samir Malik

Samir is a junior at City College. He is especially passionate about livable wages, immigration rights, LGBTQIA+ issues, and racial justice. Samir is majoring in Film Production and Anthropology because he values arts in advocacy and wants to understand human societies and behaviors. He is ethnically Bengali, loves South Asian music and South Asian cuisine wholeheartedly. Samir’s favorite pastime activities are taking photos of squirrels, writing accidental essays about media, and creating all types of art. 

Viviana Vasquez

Viviana Gissele Vasquez is a pre-health sophomore majoring in Psychology and minoring in Sociology. Born and raised in Queens, Viviana has seen the hardships minorities face when moving to the U.S. Lack of essential resources like housing, accessibility to food and healthcare was a noticeable trend of disparities her community struggled with. As a child of Ecuadorian immigrants, she is committed to improving the well-being of underserved communities and expanding access to equitable healthcare with mental health services to BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people. She aspires to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Child Psychologist, dedicating her life to advocating for children with special needs and mental disorders. She is also interested in research, clinical work, and bringing awareness to other important causes like climate change or homelessness. Viviana is beyond excited about working closely with like-minded fellows who wish to make a positive difference. Aside from avidly pursuing her professional career goals, Viviana spends time with her three cats, Toulouse, Tito, and Tina, and enjoys gaming with her cousins.

2023-2024 Colin Powell Fellows (Year 2)

Aissatou Leye

Aissatou is a senior student majoring in International Studies and Anthropology. After completing a 15-year career as a Foreign Service Officer, she felt the need to explore other aspects of International Relations and update her understanding of the constantly fluctuating trends of the world especially from a social scientist perspective. That thirst for knowledge and her interest in global social issues such as Migration, Climate change and so led her to the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership where she literally falls in love with Anthropology and decides to include it in her curriculum. She is planning to pursue Graduate school to earn a Master’s Program in Development and eventually get a Ph.D. in Anthropology. 

Ayesha Khan

Ayesha studies medical sciences and public policy. As a medical student and community organizer, she wants to address health needs and provide primary care for underserved communities, especially global communities being impacted by the worsening climate crisis. Ayesha has participated in field work for several local progressive campaigns and worked on community health canvassing efforts around New York City. She has helped start a medical clinic in her family’s rural village in India, increasing access to primary health care for farmers in the area. Aside from this, Ayesha is a huge concertgoer, a painter of middling talent, and a gardener who could talk about her plants for hours!

Bouampoundi Thiombiano

Gilles Ghislain Tanke Seulio

Gilles Seulio is a senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science. He was devoted to public service very early in his life, most especially after he noticed firsthand the succession of riots that took place in Cameroon, in which he saw human rights being trampled upon. He is passionate about writing and names the South African writer Andre Brink as one of his favorite writers, as he uses his art to bring awareness to social issues. Gilles Seulio also works as a case challenge mentor for an organization called BBAD (Building a Brighter African Diaspora), which is an African-centric organization that aims to reunite the African Diaspora and help shape a new narrative of the continent.

Kazi Tejwar

Kazi is a senior double majoring in Political and Sociology with a minor in Legal Studies. He is a first generation Bengali-American. Kazi came to City College for many reasons — the affordability, the easy commute, and the excellent education. During his time here, he’s been able to pursue his passion of helping others. He first started off in his freshman year interning for NYPIRG, advocating for issues like higher education investment and opening a public bank in New York City. He later became an active member in the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), eventually becoming Vice President of Campus Affairs, where he led the John Lewis Initiative to open City College up as an early voting site. He became a Colin Powell Fellow in Leadership and Public Service in his junior year, and he has interned at the District Office of House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. He currently is a Community Organizing Coordinator for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), and most recently he was a Legislative Intern on the Hill during Summer 2023 for Congressman Adriano Espaillat. On his free time, Kazi likes to play and watch soccer, rave about Christopher Nolan movies, hike, and pursue new things and experiences.

Kelly Rivera

Kelly Rivera is a junior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Human Rights. Kelly possesses a keen sense of direction; to serve and uplift her community, such has led to her deeply rooted interest in the Public Service sector, which steered her to the Colin Powell School. She hopes to overcome the barrier and negative connotations which have become glued to those around her by a false narrative perpetrated by politicians. The tools she has been equipped with have directed her towards a path in policy analysis and law to overcome the barrier which shrinks the spirits of those who look like her. She hopes to represent not only her voice but the voice of her community, which often goes overlooked in policy. This past summer Kelly interned with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which strengthened her interest in policy and human rights. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories and listening to her self-curated Spotify playlists.

Maya Pagán

Maya Pagán is a proud Puerto Rican and Dominican 2nd generation College student double majoring in Psychology and Latino Studies, minoring in women and gender studies. Through her time in the first year of the Colin Powell fellowship she fostered a deep passion for urban planning and development. She aims to help lift under-served communities to the forefront of conversations surrounding their development. She avidly believes that the development of any neighborhood, infrastructure and transportation should prioritize the needs of the natives instead of the persuasive thoughts of profit and inevitably to follow, gentrification. After graduation Maya plans to work in New York based communities and dreams of eventually moving back to the motherland,Puerto Rico, and work in community development and preservation. Outside of school Maya enjoys making art that surrounds the topics of self love, LGBTQIA+ liberation and Puerto Rican Independence. 

MD Miah

MD Miah, a first-generation college student from Bangladesh, is a senior majoring in Economics with a Finance concentration at the City College of New York during the 2023-2024 school year. As an immigrant, MD has faced challenges from a lack of financial literacy and is determined to create change. Driven by this passion, he aims to become a business analyst, using his skills to offer insights and recommendations to individuals and companies. MD is particularly interested in working for financial institutions that leverage data to address disparities, fostering stability and inclusivity. MD enjoys exploring the city’s diverse culinary scene and immersing himself in new cultures in his free time. With the support of the Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service, he aspires to empower others with financial knowledge, drawing from his unique background and experiences to make a lasting impact.

Muhammad Shabbir

Muhammad Hasnain Shabbir (preferred name: Hasnain) is a senior majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Economics. He is a first-generation student born in Pakistan and studied in Malaysia and Kenya as an international student before coming to the US before the pandemic. Hasnain’s passion for technology came from his love of opening every electronic device in his house. He wants to apply his knowledge to improving the education system for the less fortunate ones. Hasnain has always tried to lead in everything he does, whether in school as the Head of the Discipline Body or on the cricket field. Hasnain aims to improve his leadership skills through the Colin Powell Fellowship in Public Service and Leadership. During his free time, Hasnain likes to guide prospective international students on their journey to the United States as he has been an international student for over a decade.

Samantha Cajamarca

Samantha Cajamarca is a senior majoring in Sociology and minoring in Biology. Samantha’s passion for public service stemmed from her missionary trip to Ecuador, where she provided communities with food and clothes. Throughout her trip, she noted how populations struggled to survive in a world without adequate resources for their development and growth. Her perspective on life changed soon after that, and one day, she hopes to improve the health of others by encouraging healthier lifestyles, preventing diseases, and prolonging life through organized government efforts. Becoming a medical doctor aims to create a healthier world with good water sources, adequate healthcare, and a place where future generations thrive because everyone deserves the fundamental right to live a long, healthy life.

Sumaiya Rashid

Sumaiya Rashid is a junior at CCNY, majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Anthropology and International Studies. As a child of Bangladeshi immigrants, she quickly realized the lack of access to mental health resources in the South-Asian community. Her interest in the Colin Powell fellowship stems from the desire to learn more about working in the policy and non-profit sectors. She is passionate about education equity, mental health, and public policy. She has a background in working with vulnerable populations, including youth and refugees. She especially wants to break the stigmas and increase accessibility to mental health services for her fellow South Asians. Sumaiya hopes to continue helping those in underserved and underrepresented groups achieve visibility and create long-lasting change. 

Zine Ebersohn

Zine is a senior from South Africa majoring in Psychology and Philosophy. Growing up in South Africa, Zine has always asked questions about why things are the way they are and what we can do to change the injustices concerning the mental health field. Zine hopes to become a clinical psychologist that focuses on policy and the political structures that prevent all people from having access to mental health services. Zine loves watching documentaries and having conversations with strangers.