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Community-Based Research Scholars | Peer Mentors

CBRS Peer Mentors

Saagar Gupta

Saagar Gupta

Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
Major/Minor: CLEG
School: SPA

Favorite part about living in DC: D.C. is perfect for fun and work. The metro makes it simple to attend the variety of entertainment offered in the city and the amount of opportunities for work and internships means that you can always stay busy. The city pushes you to be your best and expand your horizons.

Why CBRS?: CBRS is great for learning more about academic research while at the same time staying involved in community service. By the end of the program, you will have a portfolio showing your accomplishments in the program, which will be useful for your resumes. Also, the living learning community allows you to make amazing friends and have a fun time.

Jessica Hoag

Jessica Hoag

Hometown: Warsaw, IN
Major/Minor: CLEG
School: SPA

Favorite part about living in DC: All the amazing opportunities in DC: museums, concerts, and the zoo!

Why CBRS? CBRS is a great program which encourages students to learn and think outside their boundaries. I would recommend CBRS because students who participate make lots of great friends who have a common passion for helping others. CBRS students also share a living residence, which helps with creating a community within AU of students who constantly support each other and grow.

Kavya Rallabhandi

Kavya Rallabhandi

Hometown: Ellicott City, MD
Major: CLEG/International Studies
School: SPA/SIS

Favorite part about living in DC: I love the diversity of the city. It's hard to stay inside the "college bubble" because there are people from all different walks of life around you. Exploring the city is an adventure, and you'll never have the same experience twice.

Why CBRS? CBRS combines my love for community service with an integral research component which fosters a connection with the community while simultaneously allowing a long-term impact on the lives of those in need. In an effort to prepare students to participate in research after they graduate, the CBRS program provides countless opportunities for students to conduct and present their own research as undergraduates. I highly recommend this program and would love to answer any questions you may have!

Meenal Goyal

Meenal Goyal

Hometown: Hudson, NH
Major: Psychology/Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
School: CAS

Favorite part about living in DC: The fact that there are hundreds of little worlds encased within this one city, and we have the chance to explore all of them.

Why CBRS? CBRS is a phenomenal way to connect with some professors early on, have a solid community of peers to support you, give back to your community through service learning, and get essential research experience that can create numerous opportunities. And, of course, north side of campus is the best side of campus.

Nathaniel Glass

Nathaniel Glass

Hometown: San Diego, CA
Major: CLEG
School: SPA

Favorite part about living in DC: My favorite part of living in DC is being surrounded by all of the history and immense culture that is eminent throughout the various parts of the city.

Why CBRS? CBRS provides upper class level research experience to freshman, which doesn't happen often, as well as provide an opportunity to go out into DC and experience the different cultures. On top of this, being a living-learning community, it allows you to form bonds outside the classroom with individuals from diverse backgrounds who share a common passion.

William Leonard

William Leonard

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Major: CLEG/History
School: SPA

Favorite part about living in DC: The opportunities for working and watching government in action.

Why CBRS? You meet a great group of close-knit friends and it looks great on a resume.

Rachael Stewart

Rachael Stewart

Hometown: Riverdale, NJ
Major: Physics/Cinema Studies
School: CAS

Favorite part about living in DC: I love the amazing amount of opportunities: there are so many prominent people and institutions and events that can help you learn and grow. DC has such a deep history and sense of community that I think is awesome. Also... there is so much free stuff. Always. Anywhere. It works perfectly for my budget.

Why CBRS? CBRS really helps you appreciate DC communities and communities in general in a new and profound way. You get to go into areas or meet people and have discussions that you might not necessarily get elsewhere. And to do it with your classmates also creates a new community that tends to be pretty tight. You learn to appreciate what it means to do research and what that looks like in a community setting; it's a unique dynamic. Also a lot of the events that you get to go to have free food, so that's a plus.

Mary-Margaret Koch

Mary-Margaret Koch

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL
Major: Political Science
School: SPA

Favorite part about living in DC: My favorite part about living in D.C. is being able to experience everything the city has to offer. With the Metro so close, you can be anywhere in the city in under an hour. From studying at Smithsonian museums to spontaneous trips to the monuments, it's amazing how easy it is to get off AU's campus and into the city.

Why CBRS? CBRS has given me the opportunity to help conduct research as a freshman in college--an experience that few others get to experience. As a living learning community, we are here to support each other as scholars, which definitely helped make the transition to college easier. With our different service days and community partnerships, CBRS has allowed me to integrate myself into the culture of both American University and Washington D.C. The community engagement, ability to conduct research and living component of the program make me highly recommend CBRS to any incoming freshman!

Chelsea Cirruzzo

Chelsea Cirruzzo

Hometown: Northport, NY
Major: Public Relations and Strategic Communications
School: SOC

Favorite part about living in DC: What I love most about living in D.C. is all the culture. From U Street to the Smithsonians, D.C. is immersed in art, music and history. All it takes is a ride on the metro!

Why CBRS? CBRS gave me so many opportunities, opportunities I'd never even dreamed of as a freshman. I got valuable research and service experience. I was able to develop skills in group-work, communication and flexibility while forming close bonds with both my classmates and professors.

Joonhee Park

Joonhee Park

Hometown: Queens, NY
Major: Political Science/Finance
School: SPA/Kogod

Favorite part about living in DC: I love the feel of a big city and there are so many different opportunities to find something that I truly enjoy doing.

Why CBRS? CBRS allowed me to take the joy I have in doing community service and apply it even further through research and firsthand experience in our community. Before being a part of this program, I never thought that I would be doing research alongside a non-profit in order to see the best ways in which we can benefit our community.

Jillian O’donohoe


Hometown: Wayne, NJ 
Majors: Health Promotion and Communication Studies 
School of Study: CAS/SOC 

Favorite part about living in D.C: I love living in D.C. because of all the opportunities professionally and personally. There is so much to learn, and there is always something fun to do in between.

Why CBRS? CBRS is an opportunity to connect with others in a meaningful way. It has truly widened my horizons in terms of how I see community service and how I hope to live a compassionate life going forward.

Afreen Tharani


Hometown: Chevy Chase, MD
Major/Minor: History
School: College of Arts & Sciences

Favorite part about living in D.C: My favorite part of living in D.C. is being able to go places at the drop of a hat. I love the freedom to explore that comes with living in a corner of an urban center; there’s so much to do, and so many places to see - I’d like to see them all before I graduate, but I think that’s a tad too ambitious :)

Why CBRS? CBRS is a great way to connect with people who share similar interests with you. I love working with my community and giving back in a way I know will be impactful. I like being able to give back to my community while gaining research skills and learning how to work with actual non-profits and real people. Research skills you can take a class for in any university - but real life interaction, that’s valuable, and worth it.

Terence Htoo


Hometown: Yangon, Myanmar
Major: CLEG and Secondary Education
School of Study: School of Public Affairs

Favorite part about living in D.C: Washington D.C. is a beautiful, well-rounded place. From historic monuments to refreshing national parks, the city provides a place of exploration and adventure. From prestigious government institutions to grass-root non-profit organizations, the city is THE place to learn from experience, develop professional skills, and build connections through networking.

Why CBRS? I chose CBRS during my first year of college because I am committed to serving the community, in whatever capacity it may be. But CBRS became much more than that. Through the CBRS community, I was able to learn not just from traditional classrooms, but also the real world experience that I can apply in my other endeavors.

Faith Horner


Hometown: Framingham, MA
Major/Minor: International Relations/Arabic
School: SIS  

Favorite part about living in DC: I love the immense opportunities that DC offers. They range from academic panels to cultural adventures. The best part is that virtually all of them are free! On top of that, DC is a city like no other; it is diverse in so many ways. There is so much knowledge and so many people willing to talk to you about it.  

Why CBRS? CBRS has opened so many doors for me and to a greater extent has changed the way I consider different obstacles that I face and that the world faces. I have learned so much more about DC and its people than I think I could even have learned if I had simply lived here for four years. CBRS pushed me outside the college bubble and outside the haze of privilege many of us have in the United States. It pushed me to see the disparity that exists on a greater scale and from the perspective of people who experience it. This has fostered my belief in how essential it is to try to reduce being and outsider looking in when doing research. All in all, CBRS has not only impassioned me to perform research, but also has provided me a basis and a support system to pursue my goals.

Mackenzie C. Demore


Hometown: Jupiter, Florida
Major/Minor: International Studies and Russian Studies
School of Study: SIS  

Favorite part about living in DC: The opportunities. There is always something to do to broaden your horizons (culturally, in entertainment, in foreign languages, etc.).  

Why CBRS? Originally because I knew I’d be volunteering in my new community when I came to college anyway, so why not do it with a cohort? Now, I have made connections with professors, peers, and community partners who have all helped me to develop academically, professionally, and personally. Impactful community driven service is something I have always been passionate about and CBRS allows me to easily participate in such service and to be recognized for it.