Abisola James

Kudos and Congratulations 2020

Congratulating some of 2020's award winners


Every year, Agnes Scott students win prestigious awards, research grants, and fellowships due to their accomplishments. Here, we’ll profile three of our international award winners for the year. Congratulations to all of them!

Leah Trotman


Leah Trotman ’21, Truman Scholar


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Leah: I study international relations (major) and public health (officially registered as minor but could change to major come Fall semester) at Agnes Scott. I was born and raised in the US Virgin Islands.


What does winning the Truman Scholarship entail? What are your next steps?

Leah: Besides receiving funding ($30,000) for graduate school, winning the Truman Scholarship means joining a network–a community–of just over 3,000 other Truman Scholars who love public service just as much as I do. It also means being exposed to something The Truman Foundation calls “constructive confusion”–a time where new Scholars are all collectively challenged about plans after undergrad by Senior Scholars. In the moment, it is overwhelming. On the other side, however, is a group of people with more knowledge on how to best help their communities. When I graduate, I hope to take a structured gap year (or two) and complete a fellowship in international health or US government-based health politics and then pursue a masters in disaster relief and emergency preparedness response. 


Who at ASC was a major influence on you (either throughout the four years or while you were applying)?

Leah: Dr. Eleanor Morris and Dr. Amy Patterson are my two major influences on campus. I am so lucky to have taken some of my first classes at Agnes Scott with them. They have pushed me to work harder but most importantly to think harder. I also have to thank one of my closest friends, Kaitlyn Mills ’21, for 1) being there every step of the way, 2) reading over countless drafts of my application and 3), most importantly, praying with me and for me.


And finally, do you have any advice to the incoming class and anyone who might be considering applying to ASC?

Leah: I’ll speak first to those who might be considering applying to ASC. If you are considering applying, apply! The education you get at Agnes Scott (socially, academically, personally) is unlike any other you could possibly receive elsewhere. Scotties come from, quite literally, all over the world, and Agnes Scott works to create spaces where we value, respect and learn from one another (something I think is frustratingly missing in our world today). To the incoming class, welcome, and I’m so sorry that you didn’t get to walk across that stage. Arguably, you know this more than others: we are living in crazy times–times that affect plans. If I had to give you some advice, especially in the midst of all of this unrest, it would be to hold your community (whether it be family, friends, etc.) close. If you are like me or any other Scottie, you want to make a difference in this world. But, that work can be draining and you need to make sure that you have a community you can be your whole self with to recharge and regroup. Make sure you have a community that cares about your human being just as much as your human doing.

Furyal Ahmed in front of a waterfall


Furyal Ahmed ’20, Goldwater Scholar


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Furyal: I’m from Lawrenceville, GA, and I came in with the class of ’21, but I’ll be graduating this December. I’m majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with a minor in Mathematics. 


What does winning the Goldwater Scholarship entail? What are your next steps?

Furyal: The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to undergraduates who show a strong commitment to scientific research and provides funding for the junior and senior years.  The process of applying for the Goldwater Scholarship helped me to solidify both my short- and long-term career goals, and receiving this scholarship has also expanded my network of professional scientists, which in turn will provide me with increased opportunities to achieve my career goal of becoming a professional researcher. Currently, I am in the process of applying to graduate schools, and I plan to pursue a PhD in Biochemistry, conducting research that can aid in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of disease.


Who at ASC was a major influence on you (either throughout the four years or while you were applying)?

Furyal: Someone at Agnes who has been a major influence on me is Dr. (Nicole) Ackerman. Her research is really interdisciplinary, and applies tools from physics to cancer research. Before speaking with her, I hadn’t really heard of similar work, and this inspired me to move towards the more computational field I am in now. She also provided a lot of useful feedback on my application; as a physicist reading a biochemistry paper, she was able to help me discern whether my materials were accessible to a broad scientific audience. This was especially important since the research essay component of the application needs to describe your work in detail, but could be reviewed by someone in any STEM field.


And finally, do you have any advice to the incoming class and anyone who might be considering applying to ASC?

Furyal: For incoming students, don’t be afraid to branch out from the requirements. When I first started college, I approached it with a checklist mindset. I needed to take so and so classes for my major or for a disciplinary requirement etc., but college really is a time to explore all your interests! Even though I knew I wanted to study biochemistry, I ended up taking a lot of math and physics classes too, and those were what lead me to the path I’m on now. I know one thing that worried me was that if I strayed from the requirements, I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time, especially since biochemistry is a degree with a lot of requirements, but that is why discussing these things with your advisors is so important. For those considering applying to Agnes, this isn’t really advice per se, but more a plug for our school 🙂 Everyone here is super helpful and supportive. One of the reasons I was able to broaden my academic interests is because my advisors and professors encouraged me to! So if you’re applying to college and don’t really know what you want to do yet or have some vague idea but nothing concrete, just know that there are plenty of people here who will happily help you figure it out!

Abisola James


Abisola James ’20, Fulbright Scholar


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Abisola: I graduated in the Class of 2020 with a degree in Political Science. I’m originally from Memphis, TN.


What does winning the Fulbright Scholarship entail? What are your next steps?

Abisola: The Fulbright requires writing a statement of interest and a statement of grant purpose where you detail reasons for wanting to teach in the host country. You must also describe past experiences that have developed your interest for study abroad and English teaching. My plan is to spend my Fulbright grant as an English teaching assistant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I have been taking Mandarin since high school and have continued studying the language while attending Agnes Scott. I thought Taiwan would be a great location for me to advance in Mandarin while also getting the opportunity to teach children English and about my experience living in America. While in Taiwan, I am also planning to explore different cities, meet new people while practicing Mandarin, and learn as much as I can about Taiwanese culture during my free time. After completing the Fulbright, I plan to pursue a master’s in international service through the Rangel Program.


Who at ASC was a major influence on you (either throughout the four years or while you were applying)?

Abisola: All of my Political Science professors have taught me a lot about foreign relations and have inspired me to learn more about communities abroad: Dr. Eleanor Morris, Dr. Gus Cochran, Dr. Cathy Scott, Dr. Gundolf Graml and Dr. Li Qi advised me when completing the Fulbright application, while Dr. Jing Paul was my Mandarin teacher while at Agnes and has always helped me when applying to language programs.


And finally, do you have any advice to the incoming class and anyone who might be considering applying to ASC?

Abisola: Make a strong effort to get involved during your first year at Agnes. Beginning college courses might be difficult, but it is important to still take the time to get involved and meet new people.

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