Skip to main content

Meet the 2022-2023 Social Innovation Fellows

Three rows, six columns of images of student headshots.

NC State Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship is excited for you to meet the 2022-2023 Social Innovation Fellows. This year, 16 students from across the university will work together on three interdisciplinary teams. Our sixth cohort, these students will spend the year honing their skills as leaders and changemakers while learning about themselves, each other, and the communities of three organizations that will serve as their “living laboratories.” Stay tuned as we follow the work of these passionate, dedicated students through this year of personal discovery and high-impact learning.

To stay informed about what the Fellows are doing this year, be sure to follow us on Instagram and sign up for our newsletter.


Meet the cohort

Amrita Ganesh

Amrita Ganesh from Charlotte, North Carolina is a senior at North Carolina State University in the Poole College of Management studying Business Administration with a Finance concentration. As part of the Business Analytics program, Amrita hopes to eventually be a financial consultant and find new ways to use data for good.

“My motivation for being a Social Innovation Fellow comes from wanting to be a part of something at NC State that makes a difference, apart from my education. I would like to make something meaningful out of my four years here.”

Audrey Westlund

Audrey Westlund from Leesburg, Virginia is a sophomore in the College of Engineering studying Industrial Engineering with a minor in Environmental Sciences in order to explore the relationships between process efficiency and sustainability. Her long term goal is to help with the development and improvement of sustainable methods of operation and production for larger companies and industries.

“My career pursuit is driven by my life-long guiding principle to serve communities and improve lives. In addition, I’m passionate about understanding how our decisions as humans affect the environment and life around us. I hope the Social Innovation Fellows will guide me in recognizing where these values could potentially lead me and help me approach decision making holistically in our rapidly changing world.”

Ben Dudley

Ben Dudley from Charlotte, North Carolina is a Senior in the Poole College of Management studying Marketing and the certificate for Entrepreneurship in order to use these skills to create a sustainable business in the future.

“I believe in surrounding myself with other people who are also passionate about helping others and doing good for people and the world.”

Harshita Gupta

Harshita, from New Delhi, India is a junior in the College of Engineering studying Computer Science and Business Administration in order to work as a software engineer in the future.

“This year, I want to dive deeper into my passion of social entrepreneurship and want to explore using the technical skills that I learn in my classes to make tangible social difference. Social Innovation Fellows is the perfect way to do this because it is at the intersection of serving your community and entrepreneurship and allows us to really become involved with people around us.”

Jabson Aloma

Originally from the Congo, DR, Jabson is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in business entrepreneurship. He hopes to use his engineering and business skills to start a company that makes mechanical tools for agriculture and to create a nonprofit organization that helps end hunger in developing countries through sustainable industrial agriculture. Jabson is a Greenhouse scholar and works at US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants(USCRI), where he helps interpret for refugees and immigrants in French, Swahili, and Lingala. 

“I am passionate about solving hunger problems in developing countries. I plan on creating a nonprofit that will provide agricultural machines and knowledge to local farmers in developing countries in order to increase food productivity. To achieve my goals, I would need to develop real-world skills in the application of mechanical engineering to agriculture and to learn through a mentor who owns a farming business and has an engineering background. I hope the Social Innovation Fellows will help me get these skills.”

Jackie Cerda-Smith

Jackie is a graduate student in the college of Humanities and Social Sciences studying Developmental Psychology.  Her research is focused on understanding and promoting adolescent well-being and equity in schools. As a parent and a former high school teacher, Jackie is passionate about supporting youth and reducing inequality.

“I believe that promoting social justice and making sustainable change in the K-12 system requires innovative strategies that leverage multidisciplinary approaches and collaborative partnerships. After graduation, I hope to work for an education-focused, nonprofit organization that seeks to make a difference in K-12 classrooms.”

Kameryn Sessoms

A graduate student and NC State Alumna earning her master’s in Public Administration, Kameryn began her journey towards global impact as an AmeriCorp VISTA and United States Peace Corps volunteer. She credits her passion to an upbringing in rural southeastern North Carolina. Having witnessed the relationship between social issues and economic opportunity unfold in her community, she hopes to influence global institutions to consider more closely the connection between efficiency and impact as a mechanism for mutually beneficial growth.

“I am passionate about social equity across systems and made choices to study, serve, and work in fields that complement my values. I am committed to impact-driven solutions that improve access and outcomes for underrepresented communities.”

Kelly Koehler

Kelly is a senior in studying Biochemistry and Zoology on the pre-veterinary medicine track. She is interested in a career as a clinician scientist focused in public health. The “One Health” approach to science, which focuses on the intersection of environmental, animal, and human health, best describes her interests. This area of study has led her to be involved in oyster health research, husbandry at the CVM’s teaching animal farm, and wildlife conservation activities. She believes the key to resilient, sustainable communities is thoughtful development that utilizes local resources.

“With online learning, I did not interact with many students outside my program of study. So, I am excited about the SIF program because I get to work in an interdisciplinary group at the university. Together we can solve sustainability challenges faced in our community by drawing from our varied backgrounds. I am excited to be part of a group that will contribute to NC State’s history of outreach.”

Kiran Soma

Kiran is a junior studying chemistry and communication media with hopes of entering the fields of pharmaceutical research and drug discovery. As he aims to combine his passions for service and science, Kiran also focuses on increasing accessibility to and representation within science education and streamlining communication between the public and scientific community. He is also a Park Scholar, Global Ambassador, and the Vice President of NC State’s Red Cross Club.

“My father has always said that one of the only things that cannot be taken away from an individual is their knowledge. As novel communication technologies continue to transform how we interact with one another, exploring new ways to ensure that people around the world have access to a quality education is a cause area that I find incredibly interesting. As the SIF program promotes innovative thinking while noting the importance of cultural differences, I’m excited to make a meaningful contribution to help tackle this global challenge.”

Kristen Belue

Kristen, a business owner and entrepreneur, is a junior in the College of Biological Sciences studying neuroscience and public health and is minoring in entrepreneurship.

“I want to become a better leader address complex problems and be able to develop better solutions for health care inequities. I’m also really inspired by empowerment initiatives that reduce poverty. When I’m passionate I do my best work, and I think SIF is a place where I can do that and be able to make a difference in the best way I know how.”

Michaela Langley

Michaela grew up in Raleigh and transferred to NC State in the fall of 2020. She is a senior majoring in Anthropology with minors in History, Theatre, and Nonprofit Studies. She started interning with Marbles Kids Museum this past spring as part of the Nonprofit studies program and has absolutely loved it. Since then she has decided she wants to go into nonprofit work specifically dealing with children and families.

“I hope the Social Innovation Fellows will help me develop the skills and resources necessary to find long term solutions to the problems facing families and children today.”

Natalie Cotton

Natalie Cotton is a junior double majoring in Economics and Business Administration with a concentration in Information Technology. She currently serves as a Civic Fellow for a local non-profit, You Can Vote, and plays violin in the Raleigh Chamber Orchestra. With a passion for using business as a force for good, she hopes to combine her interests in data analytics and sustainability to help businesses become b-corp certified.

“One of the things about the Social Innovation Fellows that excites me the most is being surrounded by and fostering a community with a diverse group of students who I share like-minded qualities with. In a similar fashion with most NC State students, I want to go above and beyond to achieve not only academic excellence but also personal growth while doing so.”

Prem Gandhi

Prem Gandhi from Gastonia, NC is a rising junior in the college of engineering studying Industrial Engineering with a minor in Statistics and Economics in order to assist people with making the “best” decisions based on data and heuristics. I want to help people make optimized systems that will enable better services for users.

“I am passionate to try and apply some of the knowledge that I learned through my internship and summer to create real-life solutions that actually affect people. I hope that Social Innovation Fellows will let me use my technical and experience based skills to create realistic solutions to problems that work beyond theory.”

Sahib Chandi

Sahib Chandi, from Elizabeth City, NC is a Junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying Nutrition Science with minors in Spanish and Global Health and hopes to pursue a career as a physician to promote equitable access to healthcare in his community.

“I believe that community empowerment plays a fundamental role in promoting all forms of human prosperity. I am passionate about health advocacy, especially in terms of food security, an issue I believe that we possess the tools and resources to solve, but require a re-imagining of how we conceptualize the global food supply chain. My passion for health equity also connects to my passion for language acquisition, as I aspire to become a multi-lingual physician serving a diverse body of people.”

Sydney Earl

Sydney, coming from the Bay Area, California, is currently working on her PhD in Applied Social Psychology. She is eager to use her research and skills to inform policy and interventions that can effectively help people everywhere live healthier lives.

“I look forward to engaging with a passionate, interdisciplinary team in order to develop strategies and solutions. It is this type of synergy that is key to the bettering of our world.”

Syna Sharma

Syna Sharma, from Garner, NC is a sophomore in the College of Education studying Middle School Education: English Language Arts and Social Studies in order to become an innovative educator to empower youth to make a difference in their communities through critical service learning as well as to become a teacher leader to transform the education system into learner-centered and learner powered environment.

“My experiences attending a learner-centered, Montessori School while growing up on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands have heavily influenced my passion to transform the US public education system into a similar learner-centered environment that provides autonomy to learners and prepares them for the 21st century. Therefore, I am excited to be joining the Social Innovation Fellows in order to learn about how social entrepreneurship can be used to tackle education transformation work.”