Niisoja Torto

Niisoja graduated from Duke University, where he studied public policy with a focus on health and nutrition policy. His Ghanaian heritage and experience growing up in Florida inform his interest in equity issues. Niisoja’s particular passion for food and nutrition solidified with his senior thesis that explored the role of … Read more

Xavier Roberts

Homeschooled until college, Xavier graduated with his associate’s degree from Piedmont Virginia Community College at the age of eighteen before traveling to India for six months to study yoga and meditation in advance of completing a year of service as a third grade teacher in Southeast Washington, D.C., with the … Read more

Leslie Rios

Born in Wisconsin and raised in Hidalgo, Texas, Leslie graduated from St. Edward’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Economics, becoming a Presidential Award Receipt and a McNair Scholar in the process. Leslie first became interested in food justice when she took a course … Read more

Rocio Perez

Rocio Perez is a first-generation Latina who was born and raised in Downtown Los Angeles. Growing up in a low-income and predominantly undocumented community, Rocio learned how to navigate educational, legal, and health barriers that influenced her public service career. She has staffed a bill aimed at protecting low-income workers … Read more

Michelle Nikfarjam

Michelle, a second-generation Iranian-American raised in Massachusetts, is an M.A. graduate of the University of Oregon’s (UO) International Studies and Food Studies Programs, a UO Promising Scholar and a David L. Boren Fellow. She comes to the Emerson Fellowship having recently returned from Rajasthan, India where she conducted research on … Read more

Janiah Miller

Janiah is a native of the Greater Cincinnati area where her lived experiences have shaped her worldview. She attended Northern Kentucky University where she gained her Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Studies which consists of three minors in Political Science, Social Justice and University Honors with focus areas in Women & … Read more

Sara Maillacheruvu

A longtime Midwesterner, Sara Maillacheruvu graduated with honors from the University of Chicago in 2018 and returned to her hometown of Peoria, Illinois, where she spent two years working in community development as an urban planner. While there, she researched affordable housing trends and created policy proposals, relevant and applicable … Read more

Curtis Hills

A native of Lexington, Mississippi, Curtis graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in English. His passion for social justice began in the eighth grade, while working with the non-profit Nollie Jenkins Center to help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline tract and research ways to alleviate food insecurity in … Read more

Tony Eskridge

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Tony Eskridge graduated from Rhodes College with a degree in Urban Studies and minor in Political Science. His passions for nutrition, food access, and community work began in high school, as he led workshops related to the MyPlate, food insecurity, and general wellness at … Read more

Max De Faria

Originally from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Max received a BA in Geography and Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Political Science from Clark University, dedicating their studies and professional pursuits to learning about the food system and food sovereignty. As a Nutrition Education Intern with Farm Fresh RI, they … Read more

Cara Claflin

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cara graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2018 with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in Mass Communication, Political Science, and African American and African Studies. During college, she completed internships with municipal and state government, served as a mentor for … Read more

Nancy Chang

Born to parents hailing from Tianjin, China, Nancy grew up in Elk Grove, California. She attended Stanford University studying Earth Systems with a focus on sustainable food and agriculture. During her time in college, she developed a passion for food justice through food recovery efforts and environmental justice organizing. Nancy … Read more