2015-16 PULSErs

2015-16 PULSE Participants

Abaye 150x150MENNA ABAYE (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia / Wittenberg University ’15)

Menna Abaye, originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, spent her college years in Springfield, Ohio and graduated from Wittenberg University with dual degrees in Biology and Business Management. Among numerous other on-campus activities, Menna was heavily involved with the international community at Witt, most recently serving as the President of the American International Association (AIA). In May 2014, Menna won the Global Social Venture Competition in Osaka, Japan. Menna loved exploring leadership and personal development opportunities in Pittsburgh while meeting new people and friends. In her free time, she enjoys reading motivational books, watching documentaries, meditating and running. She served at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care.

Ahmed 150x150ZEBA AHMED (Wyomissing, PA / University of Pittsburgh ’14)

Originally from Wyomissing, PA, Zeba Ahmed graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Japanese and Sociology in 2014. While at Pitt, Zeba was involved in the Asian Studies Center, Origami Club, and the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania. After graduation she moved to Sendai, Japan as a Fulbright Fellow where she studied economics at Tohoku University. In Sendai, Zeba also volunteered with the UN World Conference and was active in the Tohoku University Art Club. She served with PULSE at the Northside Leadership Conference alongside Jackson Bush.

Bush 150x150JACKSON BUSH (Bluffton, Ohio / Goshen College ’15)

Jackson Bush came to Pittsburgh by way of Bluffton, Ohio. Jackson received his degree in Mathematics along with a minor in Spanish from Goshen College. Jackson enjoyed most recreational activities, having played Varsity Soccer and intramurals at Goshen all four years and started a cycling club his senior year. Jackson is also no stranger to working with children, as he was a school-aged tutor for Math and Spanish, as well as with children in Peru during his study abroad semester.While Jackson lived in Pittsburgh, he could likely be seen cycling around the city. He served at the Northside Leadership Conference alongside Zeba Ahmed.

Cuenca 150x150RENE CUENCA (San Salvador, El Salvador / Carnegie Mellon University ’15)

Rene Cuenca graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Environmental Policy and Architecture. Rene was active on CMU’s campus as a co-leader with CMU Eco-Reps, which led and implemented sustainable initiatives on campus, and as social media manager for Lunar Gala fashion show, the largest student-led event on campus. Rene also worked with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and The Sierra Club Legislative Office. Rene enjoys exploring new places, a joy fostered by growing up in El Salvador then Miami, moving to Pittsburgh, and studying for a semester in Denmark. In PULSE, Rene grew in his community organizing skills, developed long-lasting connections, and became more involved in Pittsburgh. He served at The Buhl Foundation/Design Center.

Doong 150x150SIMON DOONG (Beltsville, MD / The College of Wooster ’15)

Simon Doong, from Beltsville, MD, came to Pittsburgh from Wooster, OH where he studied International Relations, Economics, Spanish, and Latin American Studies. During his time at Wooster he was the secretary of the Hans H. Jenny Investment Club, volunteered with the US National Arboretum, and worked with the Wooster Recording Crew. Simon also spent a summer abroad studying at the UABJO in Oaxaca, Mexico where his courses were taught in all Spanish. Simon loved outdoor activities and exploring Pittsburgh’s trails. He served at Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (3RWIB) alongside Rebecca Michelson.

Driediger 150x150MARIA DRIEDIGER (Harrisonburg, VA / Eastern Mennonite University ’15)

Maria Driediger, from Harrisonburg, VA, graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with a degree in Peacebuilding and Development. Maria has a great deal of experience working with and advocating for youth. She was a camp counselor at Camp Overlook in VA for five years and volunteered weekly with The Collins Center. Maria also spent a semester studying in South Africa and Lesotho. As a PULSEr, she may have been seen out and about in Pittsburgh running, playing soccer, or listening to live music. She served at the Fair Housing Partnership of Greater Pittsburgh.

Fernando 150x150KEVIN FERNANDO (Pittsburgh, PA / University of Pittsburgh ’15)

As a Pennsylvania native who studied at the University of Pittsburgh, Kevin Fernando is no stranger to the region. He studied Architectural Studies and History of Art and Architecture, with minors in Studio Arts and Museum Studies. Kevin was actively involved in the art scene in Pittsburgh, working with the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the University of Pittsburgh Art Gallery, the Andy Warhol Museum, and more, while co-creating the art market research project, Dear Pittsburgh. Outside of his interest in art, Kevin enjoyed tennis, restoring old furniture, and taking long city walks. He served at Union Project.

Feuerstein 150x150NATHANIEL FEUERSTEIN (Lowell, MA / Kalamazoo College ’15)

Nathaniel Feuerstein, originally of Lowell, MA, graduated from Kalamazoo College with degrees in Anthropology and Sociology.  At Kalamazoo, Nathaniel was a tutor for CAPS, providing after-school tutoring to elementary and high school students. He also served as a Sustainability Intern for Kalamazoo College.  Nathaniel spent six months studying in Dakar, Senegal.  Nathaniel’s work as a Park Ranger for the Lowell National Historical Park was most rewarding to him. Outside of work and academics, Nathaniel enjoyed reading, backpacking trips, biking, and walking. He served at Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

Franchi 150x150CECILIA FRANCHI (San Jose, CA / Carnegie Mellon University ’15)

Cecilia Franchi is a native of San Jose, CA, but is not new to Pittsburgh. She attended Carnegie Mellon University where she studied Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. Cecilia was a Classroom Aide with the Carriage House Children’s Center, volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and assisted in Kindergarten and First Grade classrooms regularly. Additionally, Cecilia was the Volunteer “Co-Owner” of Big Idea Book Store & Café. Cecelia loved exploring Pittsburgh through new community engagement opportunities. She served at  Manchester Academic Charter School.

Gingrich 150x150RACHEL GINGRICH (Kitchener, Ontario / Wilfrid Laurier University ’14)

Rachel Gingrich is a native of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and earned her Music Therapy degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. After graduating in 2014, Rachel kept busy honing her music therapy skills at Sunnyside Long Term Care, where she created programs for residents. Beyond her musical accomplishments, Rachel is passionate about social justice. She has worked as an inclusions facilitator at a Hidden Acres Camp and has training in trauma awareness. Rachel loved to knit, garden, and build strong communities. She served at the YWCA.

Graber 150X150BENJAMIN GRABER (Plain City, OH / Otterbein University ’15)

Benjamin Graber came to Pittsburgh from Plain City, OH, in between attending Otterbein University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. During his college years, he studied abroad in Chile and Argentina. Benjamin was active in the Otterbein Christian Fellowship, Ottertuned (A Capella Choir), and Habitat for Humanity. He also explored his passion for environmental issues by interning in the energy industry and working on a farm. You might have found Benjamin at the theater or playing sports. He served at East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI).

Grbach 150X150NEIL GRBACH (Pittsburgh, PA / University of Pittsburgh ’15)

Neil Grbach, a native to the Pittsburgh area, studied Urban Studies and History at the University of Pittsburgh. He was involved in a number of ways on campus, including as the Fundraising Chair for the Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity and an active participant in the Emerging Leaders program. Neil also completed an internship with the Design Center of Pittsburgh. Neil was passionate about urban planning issues, and made a positive change in Pittsburgh. He served at the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation.

Hanner 150x150JENNA HANNER (Marietta, OH / University of Pittsburgh ’15)

Jenna Hanner is no stranger to Pittsburgh; although she grew up in Marietta, OH, she moved here to study Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Through her studies, Jenna designed a sustainable woven knee brace to address unique challenges in East African countries. She was also the president of the University of Pittsburgh Global Brigades, through which she volunteered with sustainable development programs in Honduras. When she was not advocating for access to healthcare, Jenna played soccer or read a good book.  She served at 3E Now.

Hart 150x150STEPHEN HART (Franklin, PA / Gannon University ’15)

Stephen Hart graduated from Gannon University with degrees in Theology and Biology. During his college years, Stephen was involved on campus as a resident advisor, teaching assistant, and research lab assistant. Stephen also travelled to Ndola, Zambia as a team leader with Habitat for Humanity and visited Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a service trip. He also worked as a Nursing Assistant in a UPMC Telemetry/Stroke Unit. Outside of these involvements, Stephen enjoyed music, theatre, hiking, camping, and biking. He served at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh.

Hochreiter 150X150KRISTEN HOCHREITER (Yardley, PA / University of Pittsburgh ’15)

Kristen Hochreiter spent her college years at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her Bachelor of Social Work with Certificates in Global and African Studies. During her time at Pitt, Kristen held leadership positions with Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Growth and Empowerment (FORGE) and Bachelor of Social Work Club, studied abroad in Uganda, and tutored students at Miller African Centered Academy. In her free time, Kristen played the saxophone, clarinet, and piano, and explored the great outdoors. She served at the Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peach Outreach (AJAPO) alongside Jordan West.

Hupp 150x150KATHERINE HUPP (Naperville, IL / University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ’15)

Katherine Hupp graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. During her time in college, Katherine worked as a Student Ambassador and wrote for Uloop News. She also spent a semester abroad studying in Australia and worked at Walt Disney World. Katherine is passionate about working with kids, the environment, and writing. She loved living in community with the other PULSErs in the year she participated in the program. She served at WYEP 91.3.

King 150x150RACHEL KING (West Unity, OH / Eastern Mennonite University ’15)

Rachel King, a native of West Unity, OH, graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Aside from her degree, Rachel also completed a study term in Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. Rachel was very involved on campus as a Student Government Association Senator, the Pre-Professional Health Sciences Co-President, and an academic tutor. She also spent time volunteering at a retirement community doing physical therapy work with residents. Rachel loves to play sports, make art, and cook good food. She served at Tree Pittsburgh.

Longia 150x150PERMVEER LONGIA (Mechanicsburg, PA / University of Pittsburgh ’15)

Permveer Longia moved to Pittsburgh from Mechanicsburg, PA, to study Neuroscience and Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. He was very involved on campus at Pitt, serving as the president of theSouth Asian Student Association, mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters, volunteering in the Hospital Elderly Life Program at UPMC, and earning multiple awards for commitment to diversity, outstanding achievement, and more. Permveer loved serving in a Pittsburgh nonprofit and living in community with other PULSE fellows. He served at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

Michelson 150x150REBECCA MICHELSON (Wayne, PA / Wesleyan University ’15)

Rebecca Michelson came to Pittsburgh from Middletown, CT, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Wesleyan University. Rebecca had a lot of teaching experience, having worked as a Writing Workshop Tutor and Coursera Teaching Intern. In addition to working with students, she spent time as a legal intern, on the Wesleyan Women’s Rowing Crew, and as the principal flutist in the Wesleyan Wind Ensemble. Outside of these activities, you might have found Rebecca hiking or practicing yoga. She served at Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (3RWIB) alongside Simon Doong.

Nagel 150x150NATALIE NAGEL (Allison Park, PA / Grove City College ’15)

Natalie Nagel, a Western PA native from Allison Park, graduated from Grove City College with a degree in Political Science and minors in Sociology and Theater. During her college years, Natalie interned at a courthouse and a law firm, and mentored girls at a summer camp. Natalie is passionate about arts and theater. She has participated in over 50 shows as a cast member, director, or crew member, and was nominated for an acting award at an international competition. Outside of these pursuits, Natalie loved to dance and play the flute. She served at Urban Impact.

Sauder 150x150MCKENZIE SAUDER (Elizabethtown, PA / Eastern Mennonite University ’15)

Originally from Elizabethtown, PA, McKenzie Sauder graduated from Eastern Mennonite University, where she completed a degree in Social Work. In addition to completing a semester study abroad in Spain and Morocco, she served as president of the EMU Women’s Association, coordinated Take Back the Night Week, and led the Social Work is People club. McKenzie was passionate about social justice, particularly women’s issues. When she was not doing this work, McKenzie might have been painting, dancing, or kayaking. She served at POWER.

Schrag 150x150MARY SCHRAG (Moundridge, KS / Bluffton University ’15)

Mary Schrag, a native of Moundridge, KS, graduated from Bluffton University with a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. While at Bluffton, Mary was active in the Honors Program and Chapel Planning Committee. She won Third Place Bi-Nationally in the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest. Mary is also a traveler, having studied abroad in Guatemala and in Trinidad & Tobago. While in Guatemala, Mary pursued her passion for women’s rights by serving with ANADESA, a community development organization and women’s cooperative. She served at Green Building Alliance.

Shank 150x150EMILY SHANK (Broadway, VA / Eastern Mennonite University ’15)

Emily Shank studied psychology at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia. She has extensive experience working with mental health programs, including facilitating group therapy sessions, providing bereavement support through a hospice program, and volunteering with an equine therapy program. During her time at EMU, Emily was active in the Psychology Club and Women’s Association. Emily also loved to bake, read mystery novels, and win Scrabble games. She served at Manchester Academic Charter School.

Slater 150x150SARAH SLATER (Mars, PA / Houghton College ’15)

A native of Southwestern PA, Sarah Slater graduated from Houghton College with a Bachelor of Science in International Development and Business Administration. While at Houghton, Sarah wrote for the campus newspaper, served on the Student Conduct Committee, and was involved in spiritual life on campus as a chapel deacon. Over the past year, she completed an honors thesis on mission change in Christian international development organizations. Sarah spent one semester in Romania working with a youth development organization and studying Romanian culture and language, and also took a month-long academic trip through the Balkan peninsula. She was passionate about urban development and public transportation, and loved investing time and energy in Pittsburgh. She served at the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG).

Smucker 150x150JESSICA SMUCKER (Cincinnati, OH / Goshen College ’15)

Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Jessica Smucker completed her degree in Environmental Science and Sociology at Goshen College. Jessica was passionate about environmental issues, and had a lot of experience working in this field. She worked on wetlands restoration with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, improved environmental sustainability at a retirement community, and created a pollinator garden. In addition to this work, Jessica spent a semester studying in Cambodia. She enjoyed playing violin, cooking, and biking. She worked at Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Stelitano 150x150CASY STELITANO (Pittsburgh, PA / Point Park University ’14)

A Pittsburgh native, Casy Stelitano completed her degree in Global Cultural Studies from Point Park University. During her college years, Casy was very active on campus. She served as a peer mentor, president of the Honors Student Organization, treasurer of the Global Cultural Studies Club, and was involved in the Alpha Chi Honor Society. Casy cared deeply about education and human rights issues, and she loved to play music and write poetry. She served at Pittsburghers for Public Transit.

Thorp 150x150TAYLOR THORP (Hackettstown, NJ / The College of Wooster ’15)

Originally from New Jersey, Taylor Thorp studied Anthropology at The College of Wooster in Ohio. During her time in college, Taylor pursued her passions for children’s rights and environmental rights. She traveled to Haiti and wrote a research paper on child vulnerability and NGOs in Port-au-Prince, and volunteered with a nonprofit Wilderness Center. Taylor’s travel experience also extends to Samoa, where she spent a semester studying women in sports. She loved playing field hockey, hiking, and running. She served at Best of the Batch Foundation.

Tullio 150x150RACHEL TULLIO (Rochester, NY / University of Notre Dame ’15)

Rachel Tullio came to Pittsburgh from Rochester, NY, via Notre Dame where she spent four years completing her Science Pre-Professional degree. She spent much of her time in college working with healthcare organizations, including interning at a clinic and serving at a hospitality home for pregnant women. Rachel also worked as a Resident Assistant, a tutor, and spent one semester studying in London, England. Rachel loved learning about the unique challenges facing the health care system in Pittsburgh. She served at Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone, Inc. (ARTEZ).

Umbach 150x150CHRISTIAN UMBACH (Washington, PA / Allegheny College ’15)

Christian Umbach, a Western PA native from Washington, PA, completed his Environmental Science degree with a minor in Creative Writing at Allegheny College. During his time in college, he worked with youth through the Pittsburgh Project, was the Executive Board Leader for the Allegheny Christian Outreach, interned with the Meadville City Manager, and DJ’d at a radio station. Christian loved learning more about the unique challenges Pittsburgh neighborhoods face during his time with PULSE. He served at the Design Center.

Weaver 150x150SAMANTHA WEAVER (Lititz, PA / Goshen College ’15)

Originally from Lititz, PA, Samantha Weaver came to Pittsburgh from Goshen, IN where she completed her degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. Samantha explored her passion for environmental sustainability during a study abroad term in Nicaragua where she helped with reforestation. She was also the captain of the Goshen College Women’s Soccer Team and an intern at a health clinic, and worked in a ceramics lab. Samantha loved to rock climb, play all sports, and dance. She served at Allegheny Cleanways.

West 150x150JORDAN WEST (Oak Park, IL / University of Scranton ’15)

Jordan West graduated from the University of Scranton with a degree in Italian, and minors in Spanish and International Studies. He spent one academic year during college studying in Milan, Italy, where he also interned at a newspaper and worked as an English tutor. Jordan has also worked with high school students, including college-readiness mentoring and work-readiness skills teaching. Jordan loved serving in the Pittsburgh community throughout his time with PULSE. He served at the Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peach Outreach (AJAPO) alongside Kristen Hochreiter.

Wortman 150x150RACHEL WORTMAN (Connellsville, OH / College of Wooster ’15)

Rachel Wortman graduated from the College of Wooster with a degree in neuroscience. During her college years, Rachel spent a semester studying abroad in London, England. She was very involved on campus at Wooster as a member of the Phi Sigma Tau Honor Society, a program leader for the Wooster Women in Science Neuroscience Program, a writer for The Wooster Voice, and a member of the marching and symphonic bands. Rachel loved pursuing her interests of environmental and social justice while living in Pittsburgh. She served at the Parkinson Foundation of Western Pennsylvania.



Schneider 150x150SARAH SCHNEIDER (Arcola, IL / Southern Illinois University Carbondale ’14)

Sarah Schneider came to Pittsburgh by way of Illinois. Much of Sarah’s time at Southern Illinois was spent as Editor-in-Chief at the Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper. Sarah’s love of writing opened the opportunity for her to intern with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the experience through which she first got to know Pittsburgh. Outside of writing, Sarah loved animals, and volunteered at an animal shelter in Pittsburgh. Sarah served at WESA.

SmuckerJulia 150x150JULIA SMUCKER (Goshen, IN / Kalamazoo College ’13)

Julia Smucker, originally of Goshen, IN, graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in English Writing and French. Before coming to Pittsburgh, she was a teaching assistant at a high school in France. Some of Julia’s skills include acting, singing, playing cello, and creating documentaries. Julia also completed transcription and archival work at the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society and worked as a Service-Learning Tutor at Woodward Elementary School. Julia served at Amizade.