MPH Student named mid-term Foundation Fellow

The University of Georgia Foundation Fellows Program has named five Honors students as mid-term recipients of the university’s premier undergraduate scholarship. The Foundation Fellowship provides a variety of academic, civic engagement and travel opportunities, ranging from service-learning abroad to research and internship experiences.

The 2012 mid-term Foundation Fellows are:

  • Yuliya Bila of Canton, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in international affairs, Spanish and Russian;
  • Osama Hashmi of Augusta, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology and a joint bachelor’s/master’s degree in public health;
  • Marianne Ligon of Clemson, S.C., who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cellular biology;
  • Matthew Tyler of Atlanta, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science and a joint bachelor’s/master’s degree in public administration; and
  • Cameron Zahedi of Milton, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in economics, mathematics and physics.

“I am very pleased to welcome this stellar group to the Foundation Fellowship,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of UGA’s Honors Program and Foundation Fellows Program. “Individually,they have remarkable records of academic achievement, leadership and service. Together, they are sure to enrich the community of Fellows.”

UGA undergraduates who are in their third semester as Honors Program members with minimum 3.85 cumulative GPAs are eligible to apply for the mid-term Foundation Fellowship. The scholarship provides funding for the last two years of undergraduate study at UGA, including conference, research and travel-study grants.

Originally from Ukraine, Bila has participated in several campus experiences in preparation for a career with the U.S. Foreign Service. She has held leadership positions in the UGA chapter of a global student-run organization that promotes youth leadership development through its international internship exchange program.

Bila speaks six languages, including Czech and some Portuguese. Through UGA’s Honors International Scholars Program, she currently is studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. She has conducted research with UGA international affairs professor Brock Tessman and through the UGA chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, a national student-run think tank.

With aspirations of becoming a physician policymaker, Hashmi has participated in research through UGA’s Roosevelt Institute and UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. He made presentations on the future of Georgia’s rural healthcare workforce at the annual CURO Symposium and the Georgia Public Health Association conference.

As a 2011 CURO summer fellow, Hashmi partnered with health policy and management professor Monica Gaughan, his UGA faculty mentor, to focus on analyzing possible solutions to legal issues faced by primary care physicians. This past summer, Hashmi was a health care policy fellow with Behan Law in Washington, D.C., where he studied policy issues at the national level. Through the Honors Program’s Honors-in-New York internship, he will work with the Greater New York Hospital Association this summer.

Ligon, who would like to pursue a physician scientist career in immunology and infectious diseases, has participated in undergraduate research as a CURO Honors Scholar and CURO summer fellow. In the laboratory of UGA biochemistry and molecular biology professors Michael and Rebecca Terns, she has studied a small RNA-based immune system found in bacteria and archea, single-celled microorganisms.

Ligon has been involved in several extracurricular service learning activities, including the UGA chapter for Habitat for Humanity and leading an alternative spring break trip to New Orleans to help rebuild Hurricane Katrina-damaged homes. She also is a mentor and leader in MATHCOUNTS, a local program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement.

Tyler, who is planning a career in environmental education policy, has pursued various research endeavors at UGA. As a research associate with the Education Law Consortium, he studied cyber bullying law under the guidance of UGA educational administration and policy professor John Dayton. He also has investigated the effects of party switching on voting behavior in the Georgia legislature with UGA political science professor Michael Crespin.

Through UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs, Tyler recently studied abroad at England’s Oxford University. He currently is conducting educational research in Ghana. His campus involvement includes leadership roles in Students for Environmental Action, Phi Kappa Literary Society and Volunteer UGA. For the last two summers, he has been a counselor at an environmental education camp for gifted children.

As a high school senior, Zahedi was first introduced to UGA’s undergraduate research opportunities when he attended the CURO Symposium as a CURO Promising Scholar. He then was selected to conduct undergraduate research as a CURO Honors Scholar, working with UGA physics and astronomy professor Craig Wiegert.  He is studying how introductory physics students’ mathematical abilities influence their success in physics courses.

Zahedi’s extracurricular participation includes leadership roles with UGA Club Sports as a member and officer of the men’s rugby team and serving on the club sports executive committee.  Zahedi also volunteers for the MATHCOUNTS program. He would like to become a professor, scientist and policymaker focused on enhancing the American educational system.

The Foundation Fellows Program was established in 1972 by the trustees of the University of Georgia Foundation to provide an enhanced educational experience for academically outstanding undergraduate students.

For more information on UGA’s Foundation Fellows Program, see and navigate to Foundation Fellows.

Posted April 9, 2012.