By Fangzhou Liu
Recent graduates Nicholas Ahamed ’15 and Anna Ntiriwah-Asare ’14 have won the 2017 Gates Cambridge Scholarship for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. They will join a cohort of 36 American scholars-elect this year in pursuing fully-funded graduate studies at the prestigious university.
“Ever since I studied at Oxford during winter quarter of my junior year, I knew I wanted to go back,” Ahamed said in an interview with the Stanford News Service. “Studying at Cambridge allows me to fulfill a longtime passion of mine.”
Since its establishment by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship program has sponsored graduate studies for over 1,400 outstanding students from outside the United Kingdom. Of these, 39 have been Stanford alumni.
While at Cambridge, Ntiriwah-Asare plans to complete a doctorate in education, while Ahamed will read a master’s degree in international relations and politics.
Ntiriwah-Asare’s passion for social justice and narrative brought her to education, which she sees as a way of using academic research to tangibly benefit marginalized communities.
“I am incredibly honored to receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship because of the values it promotes of not only producing excellent academic work but using this work to help others beyond the academy,” Ntiriwah-Asare told Stanford News.
Throughout her education, Ntiriwah-Asare has sought to connect her academic interests with social action. As an undergraduate, Ntiriwah-Asare served as executive director of the Alternative Spring Break program, mentored high school students preparing for college and, as a sophomore, co-led the Black Student Union. In 2013, she was one of 10 students who received Stanford’s Deans’ Award for Academic Achievement, which honors undergraduate students for their “exceptional, tangible” intellectual achievements.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in medical anthropology, Ntiriwah-Asare went on to pursue a master’s in multidisciplinary gender studies at Cambridge that sharpened her focus on the connections between race, education and gender. Her master’s thesis, “Intersectional Feminism and Cultural Relevant Pedagogy: A Black Feminist Case Study in Stockton, California,” has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies.
“As a Ph.D. student in Education at Cambridge, I will focus on the role education has played in suppressing Black women’s narratives and how Black women have still thrived in academic spaces despite this challenge,” Ntiriwah-Asare wrote in her scholar-elect profile. “As a Gates scholar I will use this knowledge to facilitate more inclusive learning environments and curricula.”
Ahamed, who currently works as a data scientist at Civis Analytics, began to apply statistical methods to race and voting issues as an undergraduate at Stanford.
“As a Muslim in post-9/11 America, my loyalties are constantly questioned,” Ahamed wrote in his scholar profile. “All too aware of [the inequalities still present], my research at Stanford University focused on bringing rigorous methodologies to questions of politics, race and voting.”
Ahamed’s honors thesis examined Islamophobia in America from a statistical perspective, synthesizing his political science major and statistics minor. Outside the classroom, Ahamed engaged his political interests as an educator and writer, serving as managing editor of opinions at The Daily and leading an Alternative Spring Break trip to Washington, D.C.
Ahamed credited his research accomplishments to his thesis advisor, David Laitin, a professor of political science, and his academic advisor, Lauren Davenport, an assistant professor of political science.
“They taught me how to conduct research that could be impactful and improve lives, as well as be academically rigorous, scientific and empirical,” he said.