April 2018 Alumni Buzz

Have an update? Email alumni@jkcf.org to share!

Aaron Jessup

2003 Undergraduate Transfer Scholar, California State University, Chico

2011 Graduate Scholar, University of California, Davis

Reporting in from Singapore where he is currently performing, comedian, rope walker, and juggler Aaron is enjoying his global performing tour. Since graduating with his MFA in Dramatic Arts, Aaron has spent the last five years performing in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe, Canada, the USA and throughout Asia. He heads next to Taipei and Seoul, South Korea before returning stateside this summer to take on the world-renowned street performer stage on Pier 39 in San Francisco. You will also be able to find him at the Edmonton and Saskatoon Fringe Festivals in Canada. Watch Aaron’s promo video and follow his dizzying performance schedule via Instagram.


Samantha Pratt

Young Scholar, 2011 College Scholar, New York University

Samantha recently launched an edtech startup, KlickEngage, to help students take control of their socio-emotional wellbeing in order to strengthen academic engagement. Samantha’s team is developing an app where low-income students who have experienced traumas check in daily and access resources to develop their coping skills. The Miami Herald just selected KlickEngage as a finalist for its 2018 Business Plan Challenge, out of 150 submissions. Samantha teaches science in Miami-Dade County and is a leader in the first cohort of Miami’s EdTech Accelerator program.


Andrew O'Bannon

2002 Graduate Scholar, University of Washington

In January, Andrew held the inaugural International Meeting for Science in Palestine at Cambridge University, which invited Palestinian scientists to describe the effects of occupation on academia to an international audience. The meeting was part of his work with Scientists for Palestine (S4P), an international organization Andrew co-founded to support science research and education in Palestine, and to integrate Palestine into the international scientific community. Andrew is a lecturer in mathematical science and Royal Society University Research Fellow at the STAG Research Centre of the University of Southampton.


Alison Chopel

2008 Graduate Scholar, University of California, Berkeley

Alison just got word that she was selected for the Peace Corps to serve in Colombia beginning this July. She currently directs the California Adolescent Health Collaborative, which aims to help young people develop the knowledge, skills, and resources to transform their communities and have healthy transitions to adulthood. Under Alison’s leadership, the collaborative oversees various projects including ones supporting adolescent sexual health, victims of domestic violence, and a study of socio-structural barriers to and facilitators of breastfeeding by diverse young mothers.


August Thomas

2014 Graduate Arts Scholar, University of Edinburgh

August published her debut novel, Liar’s Candle, a spy thriller about a young State Department intern on the run in Turkey, trying to outwit and outmaneuver everyone from the Turkish president to Islamic extremists to the CIA. August drew upon her exposure to the Turkish culture gained through her time as a Fulbright Scholar in Istanbul. Check out August’s website for more information about her book tour, which has already included stops in Boston and Washington, DC.


 William Tarpeh

Young Scholar, 2008 College Scholar, Stanford University

2012 Graduate Scholar, University of California, Berkeley

Upon the heels of completing his doctoral degree, William accepted an assistant professorship of chemical engineering at Stanford University. William is continuing his research in the Tarpeh Lab, developing and evaluating innovative approaches to resource recovery from waste waters at several synergistic scales. William’s work aims to leverage these molecular-scale insights to increase the sustainability of engineered processes in terms of energy, environmental impact, and cost. Watch William’s work in action in this Cooke Foundation video.


 Susan Yang

2013 Graduate Arts Scholar, University of Cincinnati

Completing her doctorate this spring, Susan is an adjunct at Schoolcraft College and a faculty member teaching piano at the Community Music School of Ann Arbor, a nonprofit organization that provides financial aid and after-school programs to its students. Throughout Susan’s active performing career, she has often paired repertoire from different periods to create unique thematic programs. She has been recognized for her talents at the Naftzger Young Artist Competition, International Keyboard Odyssiad Competition, New York Festival and Competition, Delta Symphony Young Artist Competition, and Ann Arbor Camerata Competition.


 Stephani Calderón

2013 Undergraduate Transfer Scholar, University of Texas, Austin

Stephani recently managed an international execution plan for a merger and acquisition project in her role as senior consulting analyst at Accenture. In addition to her analyst work, Stephani and fellow Cooke Alumnus Manuel Ruiz (2013 Undergraduate Transfer, Southern Polytechnic State University) founded Beyond Borders, a platform “to inform, advocate, and educate about luminous students, astute workers, and risk-taking travelers and their true immigrant stories in America.” A data enthusiast, Stephani has been using software to create data visualizations from DACA statistics to drive questions, push information, and power advocacy movements. University of Texas Arlington featured Stephani at their 2018 Hispanic Career Week.

Cooke Foundation