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Alice Belkin Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Alice Belkin Memorial Scholarships are awarded annually to outstanding minority graduate students in the field of international relations who need financial assistance.

Alice Belkin Memorial Scholarship Program

The Burkle Center awards outstanding minority graduate students who have financial need and research interests relating to globalization and international relations with scholarships up to $4,000.00 each academic year. Scholarships are granted to qualified applicants who demonstrate leadership skills and academic achievement.

2012-13 Scholarship Recipients


Irene Vega Irene I. Vega

Irene I. Vega is a doctoral student in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests are in international migration, political sociology, and racial/ethnic boundaries. She is particularly interested in whether and how internal immigration politics impact the United States’ foreign policy toward immigrant-sending countries, especially Latin America. Upon completion of the Ph.D., Irene will pursue an academic job at a research university with a lively program on international relations, specifically as it relates to immigration and politics.

Kristen Kao Kristen Kao

Kristen Kao is a PhD Candidate in the Political Science Department at UCLA. She first traveled to the Middle East on a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Egypt in 2006. Since then, she has spent a good portion of each year living in the region, culminating in the dissertation fieldwork she is currently conducting in Jordan and Kuwait. Her research seeks to understand the effects of different types of electoral institutions on voting behavior and democratic representation in ethnically divided societies. She hopes to become a professor and teach at a four-year university.


Siyu Cai Siyu Cai

Siyu Cai was born in China, and he grew up in the U.S.'s most diverse zip code—Seattle's 98118 postal code. This upbringing has led him to pursue a Ph.D. in the Department of Geography at UCLA. His research interest is geographical political economy with a regional focus on China. He has done research on China's regional development, household registration system, and internal migration. Upon graduation, Siyu plans to apply his research agenda, as well as his interest in teaching, in an academic institution.



2011-12 Scholarship Recipients


Aaron Alejandro Olivas Aaron Alejandro Olivas

Aaron Alejandro Olivas is a doctoral candidate in the UCLA Department of History. His research interests include the history of colonial Latin America and the Spanish empire (1492-1808), particularly relations between Spanish America and early modern France. Aaron is a member of the Centro de Estudios Coloniales Iberoamericanos de UCLA (CECI) and has also worked as a research assistant at the Getty Research Institute. His career goal is to become a professor of World History and teach at the college level.



Almas SayeedAlmas Sayeed

Almas Sayeed is a law school student, Class of 2012 and is enrolled in the law school's David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy Program, a selective program for law school students focused on public interest work. She was a 2003 Fulbright Fellow at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she earned her MA in International Studies and worked for the Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling and the European Commission for Cooperation and Development. Following this, she earned her MSc in Economic Development from the London School of Economics.



Cynthia UgwuibeCynthia Ugwuibe

Cynthia Ugwuibe is a second year student in the Master of Arts in African Studies program UCLA. Prior to starting her master’s degree, she pursued an internship with TransAfrica Forum, a policy advocacy organization in Washington D.C., where she followed legislative and media developments on the political situation in Zimbabwe. At UCLA, Cynthia research focuses on oil revenue management, in particular sovereign wealth fund (SWF) management in Nigeria. Last summer, she participated in the Yoruba Fulbright-Hays intensive language program in Ife, Nigeria where she studied the Yoruba language, a language widely spoken in Nigeria. Also, while in Nigeria, Cynthia interned with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a prominent public policy organization in Abuja.



2010-11 Scholarship Recipients


Farnoosh Hashemian Farnoosh Hashemian

Farnoosh is a third-year student in the Public Interest Law and Policy Program at the UCLA School of Law. Prior to starting her legal education, she was a research associate at Physicians for Human Rights, where she led investigations on the consequences of human rights abuses at US detention facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo Bay. Farnoosh received her Master of Public Health from Yale University in 2005 and was awarded the Deans Award for Outstanding MPH Thesis.



Stephanie SantosStephanie Santos

Stephanie is a PhD candidate at the UCLA Department of Women’s Studies. She grew up in the Philippines, where she worked as a journalist and a researcher with various NGOs. Her dissertation examines contemporary (post-1995) discourses of governmentality and development in the Philippines, focusing on how the state crafts restrictive forms of neoliberal economic citizenship that co-opt indigenous Filipinas into the flows of global capital.



2009-10 Scholarship Recipients


Michael IyanagaMichael Iyanaga

Michael Iyanaga is a PhD Candidate in the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology. His research interests include historical ethnomusicology, popular religions, and ritual music in general with an emphasis on popular Catholic and African-derived religious musical rituals in Brazil. After completing his PhD, he plans on continuing his research, as well as teaching at the university level.



Natasha RiversNatasha Rivers

Natasha is a PhD Candidate in the UCLA Department of Geography. Her research focus is international migration, internal migration, gender, African diaspora, sub-Saharan Africa, black identities and human capital. She will begin her post doctoral fellowship at the Minnesota Population Center in fall 2010.



Lisa MuellerLisa Mueller

Lisa is a PhD Candidate in the UCLA Department of Political Science, specializing in African politics and social movements. Her dissertation, “Political Entrepreneurs and Urban Protest,” explores the determinants of collective action at the intersection of popular grievances and political entrepreneurs’ mobilization strategies. Her field work focuses on the pro-democracy and labor movements in Guinea, Mali, and Niger. After completing her PhD, Lisa hopes to pursue a career in teaching and research.



2009-09 Scholarship Recipients


Kim Yi DionneKim Yi Dionne

Kim is a PhD candidate at the UCLA Department of Political Science. She will complete her work as a Fulbright Scholar in Malawi and return to UCLA to finish her dissertation. Kim hopes to teach at a research university after graduating.



Summer HamideSummer Hamide

Summer is a JD/MPH candidate at the UCLA School of Law & UCLA School of Public Health. After graduation, she will go on to work for the US State Department, the UN or another international relief organization.



Tom NarinsTom Narins

Tom is a PhD candidate at the UCLA Department of Political Geography. After graduation he hopes to become a professor of political geography. His current research focus is Chinese–Latin American relations.



Amber Nicole KeyesAmber Nicole Keyes

Amber is an MA candidate at the UCLA Department of International Departmental Studies, in the African Studies Program. She hopes to work in international development aid, policy and implementation, and international trade.