Student Bios

Matthew Richardson
III - Domestic Policy
Utah State University, 2011
Political Science/Speech Communication, B.A.
Kemmerer, Wyoming
A native of small-town Wyoming, Matthew often marvels at the good fortune that led him to the Woodrow Wilson School. For his undergraduate studies, he crossed the Wyoming border to study political science and speech communication at Utah State University. During that time, Matthew left school for two years to serve as a volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Latino communities in Atlanta, Georgia. (“¿Cómo están, y’all?”) After graduating from Utah State, he and his wife loaded their belongings into their small car and drove across the country to Washington, D.C., full of (potentially naïve) optimism about the future. Things worked out for Matthew, though; soon after beginning as an intern for Senator Orrin Hatch in 2011, he advanced in his role until he ultimately served as the senator’s legislative assistant on health policy. Matthew dearly loves his wife, Leah, and their two children, Rosalie and Kent.
Javier Rojo
IV - Economics and Public Policy
University of New Mexico, 2012
Economics/Philosophy, B.A.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Javier was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of New Mexico where he studied economics, philosophy and statistics. After college, Javier worked at the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department as assistant to the chief economist. He was then selected as the first ever New Mexico fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he conducted various forms of economic analysis and wrote political commentary. Javier returned to New Mexico and began working at MediaDesk NM, a public relations firm that serves the local nonprofit sector. He then served as a grant writer for the Center of Southwest Culture, a nonprofit that works to revitalize New Mexico’s rural economy by introducing innovative business models. In terms of hobbies, Javier is a huge fan of combat sports. He especially likes boxing and mixed martial arts.
Rachel Rothgery
II - International Development
Oberlin College, 2010
Third World Studies, B.A.
Eugene, Oregon
Rachel was raised in Oregon until she was 18 then did a series of globetrotting between Ohio, Guatemala, Bolivia, Niger, Los Angeles and New York. After graduation she spent four years working on USAID Afghanistan programs with Chemonics International in Washington D.C. From 2013 to 2014, she served as communications and gender director on the Regional Agricultural Development Program-South in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Upon returning from Afghanistan she served as communications manager for a USAID youth empowerment program.
Nicole Russo
II - International Development
Wake Forest University, 2009
English, B.A.
Northport, New York
A native of Long Island, Nicole graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in art history and gender studies. Convinced she was going to be a ballet dancer or an artist, she was surprised to discover an interest in global affairs and development during college. After graduation, she worked for a N.Y.-based nonprofit supporting children’s education in the Middle East before joining an international development firm in Washington, D.C. She spent the next six years managing and designing development projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She hopes to use her education to advance evidence-based programming in the field of international development with a focus on empowering women and girls. In her free time, she still enjoys taking ballet classes and producing art that only her parents would hang in their home.
Aya Saed
II - International Development
University of Pennsylvania, 2013
International Relations, B.A.
Washington, D.C.
Aya was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Sudanese parents. She attended the University of Pennsylvania as a Quest Bridge scholar, where she conducted independent research on Islamic finance with professor Andrew Lamas, and wrote her thesis on the communist movement in Sudan. Inspired by youth-led protest movements in the U.S. and abroad, Aya spent two summers curating technologies for activists during the Arab-Spring protests as a Google intern. She helped to launch the Speak2Tweet product in 2012, which allowed protesters across Sudan and Ethiopia to tweet using their analog phones despite sporadic Internet connectivity. Upon graduation, she worked with the Asian Women’s Leadership University (AWLU) Project as a Henry Luce scholar in Malaysia. Aya is pursuing a joint MPA/J.D. with Harvard Law School and hopes to pursue a career focusing on national security, development and trade policies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Richard Sambasivam
IV - Economics and Public Policy
University of California-Los Angeles, 2014
Economics, B.A.
Glendora, California
Richard grew up in Southern California, and in an alternate timeline became a full-time novelist. His interest in history and travels overseas led him to become passionate about economics and international affairs. At UCLA, he worked to improve civic engagement among students, taught creative writing in underserved public schools, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2014, all contributing to his understanding of the “public welfare.” After graduating, he spent two years working in the money markets office of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, where he gained an intimate understanding of public finance, the functioning of financial markets and the implementation of monetary policy in the U.S. At the Fed he also co-led the Board’s efforts to improve financial literacy in the Washington, D.C. area. Richard’s goal after obtaining a master’s degree is to help the United States and multilateral institutions use economic and financial tools to more effectively create stability and improve livelihoods around the world, and still make time to write, too.
Jessica Sarriot
I - International Relations
Eastern Mennonite University, 2011
Peacebuilding and Development, B.A.
Paris, France
Jessica was born in Paris, but soon moved to Nouakchott, Mauritania, followed by the Washington, D.C. area, and finally graduated from high school in Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine. After such an upbringing, she logically decided to study peacebuilding and development at Eastern Mennonite University where she invested much of her free time in student activism and advocacy. Warned of paternalistic development models, Jessica joined a two-year program through the Mennonite Central Committee focused on fostering relationships between North and South Americans and accompanying grassroots peacebuilding initiatives in Colombia. Having gained a love of salsa dancing and working at the community level, Jessica returned to the United States in 2013 to work as a community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in Virginia, focusing largely on affordable housing and education-related issues. In January, she quit her job in order to travel the world for seven months and explore its beauty as well as the role of civil society organizations and their ability to create change in areas of conflict. She is particularly interested in the role of civil society, de-colonization movements and exploring ways to acknowledge and repair historic injustices and their current ramifications, especially within the fields of international relations and development. In her free time Jessica enjoys game nights, any group singing activity and most outdoor activities such as hiking, running and reading under shady trees, or climbing said trees.
Macklin Scheldrup
I - International Relations
University of Colorado, Boulder, 2014
International Affairs/Political Science, B.A.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Before coming to WWS, Macklin lived in Afghanistan and Pakistan for three years. While there, he worked for monitoring and evaluation firms conducting research for aid agencies and NGOs including USAID, the Department of State, DFID, Oxfam and the Asia Foundation. From this he worked on a variety of topics, particularly implementing quantitative and quasi-experimental empirical approaches to conflict and stabilization research. A native Iowan, Macklin graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado-Boulder with a B.A. in international affairs and political science.
Caitlin Schoenfelder
III - Domestic Policy
Whitman College, 2009; University of the Pacific, 2012
Politics, B.A.; Curriculum and Instruction, M.A.
La Grande, Oregon
Caitlin grew up and attended college in the rural American West. She has worked in education for seven years as a teacher coach, elementary school teacher, family advocate, and researcher in high-poverty environments in D.C., Oakland, San Diego, Seattle and Mexico. Caitlin is a Truman scholar and a former Princeton in Latin America fellow. She is fluent in Spanish and enjoys hiking, traveling and doing improv comedy.
Nabil Shaikh
III - Domestic Policy
Princeton University, 2017
Politics, A.B.
Reading, PA
Nabil recently graduated from Princeton University with a concentration in politics and certificates in global health policy and values and public life. His academic interests and activities have taken him to Budapest to research nano-medicine, Boston to study pediatric cancer clinical trials, Hyderabad to evaluate access to end-of-life care, Trenton to analyze state health disparities, and the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee to work on health policy. Nabil is also passionate about interfaith work and civic engagement, having served in leadership roles for the Princeton Muslim Students’ Association, Religious Life Council, Muslim Advocates for Social Justice, Pace Council for Civic Values, and Community Action. He plans to pursue a career at the nexus of policy, law and public health.
Travis Sharp
University of San Francisco, 2006; Princeton University, 2014
History/Politics, B.A.; International Relations, MPA
Palmdale, CA
Travis grew up in the Mojave Desert before heading north to the University of San Francisco where he lettered in varsity soccer and spent one summer playing on a minor league professional team. After college, he spent six years working on United States national security policy at think tanks in Washington, including as a Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a Scoville Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. In 2012, he started at WWS, where he met his (then future) fiancée, Becca. During his time at WWS, he served in the Pentagon as a Harold W. Rosenthal Fellow, attended the Manfred Wörner Seminar in Germany and the U.S. Future Leaders Program in Japan, and received the John Parker Compton Memorial Fellowship in International Relations. In addition to his Ph.D. studies, he is a fellow at Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies and serves as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Travis enjoys playing soccer, eating Chinese food and listening to rap music. After graduating from WWS, he plans to work in the military-industrial-academic think tank complex.
Andrew Shaver
Westminster College, 2007; Princeton University, 2012; Princeton University, 2014
Economics, International Business, B.S.; Public & International Affairs, MPA; Public Affairs, M.A.
Helper, UT
Andrew is a Ph.D. candidate in security studies where he focuses on sub-state conflict and its psychological, climatic, and territorial underpinnings. He is also a pre-doctoral fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. His research focuses on sub-state conflict and its psychological, climatic, and territorial underpinnings and is based primarily on quantitative analyses of micro-level conflict and attitudinal/behavioral data. Andrew is a recipient of Princeton's Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Fellowship for the 2016-17 academic year and was recently awarded the Empirical Studies of Conflict annual Data Prize. His research and commentary appear in the Annual Review of Sociology, Conflict Management and Peace Science, PLOS ONE, Foreign Affairs, National Interest, and Washington Post. His professional experiences include serving as a foreign affairs fellow at the U.S. Senate, foreign policy adviser to Governor Jon Huntsman’s Presidential campaign, policy analyst for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and economic development officer in Iraq with the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations. Andrew has spent approximately four years in the Middle East and speaks Arabic, Spanish and basic Italian.
Pratibha Shrestha
II - International Development
Lake Forest College, 2012
Economics, B.A.
Kathmandu, Nepal
Pratibha was raised in Kathmandu, Nepal and received her undergraduate degree at Lake Forest College in economics with a minor in psychology. She studied abroad, and subsequently worked as a research assistant with the Social Policy and Research Group at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Her work involved research on income and employment trends in South Africa, the importance of social capital on income mobility, and trends of HIV/AIDS prevalence in Botswana and South Africa. After graduation she joined J-PAL South Asia in India as a research associate where she worked on evaluating a biometric payment system for social security pensions and the national rural employment program, a cash transfer program in lieu of food subsidies, and a technology-based platform to improve student learning and motivation. After Princeton, Pratibha intends to work with organizations and governments on improving education systems and policies. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities, sketching, and re-reading Calvin and Hobbes.
Graham Simpson
III - Domestic Policy
Harvard University, 2013
Economics, A.B.
Holden, Massachusetts
Graham grew up in central Massachusetts and attended college at Harvard University, where he studied economics. After graduation, he taught high school equivalency and other classes to incarcerated men at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction. Graham then worked for three years at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)’s North America office as a member of the policy team, where he acted as project manager for the Creating Moves to Opportunity project, a collaborative effort between public housing authorities and academics to develop and evaluate ways to help families using housing choice vouchers move to higher-opportunity neighborhoods. Graham relaxes through cooking, watching the Boston Red Sox and attending concerts.
James Smyth
I - International Relations
Duke University, 2008
Philosophy, B.A.
Carmel, Indiana
James grew up in the Indianapolis metro area during the Reggie Miller era. He graduated from Duke University with a philosophy major and math and Spanish minors, having learned the hard way Socrates’s adage that “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” As studying in Madrid had piqued his interest in working abroad, James then taught English in public elementary and junior high schools of rural Kumamoto, Japan for two years through the JET Programme, studied Mandarin a year and a half at National Taiwan University’s International Chinese Language Program, and served as a translator, editor, and teacher for the Taiwanese government’s executive branch throughout four typically eventful years of Taiwanese democracy. In his free time, James writes about Taiwanese politics and studies for the exams of the U.S. Foreign Service, which he hopes to join as a political officer after graduating from the Woo. Hobbies include swimming, running, and salsa, as well as karaoke, a de facto job skill in Japan and Taiwan alike.