By Alexander Gould
A native of Tampa, Florida, Azar Boehm '12 entered the military after graduating high school in 2005. After five years of service that included a stint in Alaska and a tour of duty in Iraq, he applied to GS while deployed in Afghanistan in 2010, enrolling in the University after being discharged from active duty that fall. In addition to interning at the Clinton Global Initiative, Azar currently serves in the New York National Guard and was the vice president of the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University as well as an executive board member of the New York City Chapter of The Mission Continues, a veteran outreach organization. He graduated with a major in political science with a concentration in American government and plans to return to public service.
An accomplished dancer and choreographer, Kyle Bukhari '12 received a full scholarship to New York's prestigious Joffrey Ballet School as a teenager. After a successful career dancing with the Joffrey and Zurich Ballets, and choreographing for the Zurich Opera House (where his work led him to receive the City of Zurich's Cultural Distinction Award) and Frankfurt Ballet (which allowed him to use his fluent German skills), Kyle fulfilled another lifelong dream by enrolling in GS in 2007, having not attended school since the tenth grade. With the support of his wife, Kyle, a recipient of the Bradford Graves and Verna Gillis Scholarship, plans to apply to PhD programs in New York to study the philosophy of dance and theater combined with his undergraduate major, sociocultural anthropology.
Pursuing her dream of attending a prestigious university with a challenging curriculum, Clara Hart '12 became a GS student in 2008, having performed administrative duties since 1993 at a family-owned air conditioning company. Clara previously earned an associate's degree from Westchester Community College where she was the recipient of the Leo Benardo Award, demonstrating proficiency in multiple languages, and she is a member of the Future Educators Association. While juggling family life, working full-time, and volunteer work, Clara graduated cum laude with a degree in psychology, enjoying the flexibility of being able to attend GS as both a part-time and full-time student. Resolute in her belief that learning does not stop after graduation, she received the Charlotte M. Newcombe Foundation Scholarship and is a member of the Program for Academic Leadership and Service (PALS).
Vincent Nguyen '12 was born in rural Vietnam and raised by his grandmother after his mother fled for the United States in 1988. After more than fifteen years, Vincent reconnected with his mother, but he contracted malaria while she was processing the paperwork to bring him to America. Undeterred by the illness that left him paralyzed for a short time, Vincent immigrated to the U.S. While in high school he had a falling out with his mother and became homeless; despite this setback, a friend took him in and he graduated. He received a Hendrick Foundation Scholarship and enrolled in Collin College where a mentor assisted him in sorting out his academic and personal goals. Since becoming a student at GS in fall 2009, Vincent gave back through volunteer work with Community Impact's College Road program and participated in the Columbia Vietnamese Students Association. A recipient of the Aaron W. Warner Scholarship and a member of the Program for Academic Leadership and Services (PALS), he graduated with a major in chemistry and has been accepted to an MD/PhD program for fall 2012.
The daughter of a diplomat, Orly Ratzabi-Cohen '12 spent the first sixteen years of her life in Belgium, Israel, and Austria. Though she found the frequent transitions between languages and cultures challenging, the opportunities for learning through her travels instilled in her a desire to continue her journey in New York, where she had visited in high school as part of a class trip. After finishing a four-year stint in the Israeli Defense Forces as a commander in an intelligence unit, Orly took what was originally supposed to be just a yearlong trip to New York. Within a week, she met the man who would become her husband and decided to stay, enrolling as a part-time student in GS in the spring of 2006. A summa cum laude graduate with a major in psychology and a recipient of the George B. Bernheim and William Strong Scholarships, Orly received the Class of 2012's Alumni Key Award. She is currently a diplomatic liaison at the Israeli Mission to the UN and would like to work for the human rights branch of an international organization.
Eric Schorr '12 came to GS in the fall of 2008 following a gap year that brought him to Israel. Studying with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's Nativ College Leadership Program, Eric took classes at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a semester and spent the rest of his time volunteering on a kibbutz, an experience he says taught him the value of hard work and being a team player. In addition to his studies in the GS-JTS program, he has been active in pro-Israel causes, serving as the president of Columbia's non-partisan, pro-Israel public affairs committee, LionPAC, for which he won AIPAC's Campus Advocate of the Year Award. Eric has also collaborated with MilVets, Columbia's campus veteran organization, as a planning and funding consultant. He graduated cum laude with a GS major in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies and plans to volunteer his service in me communications division of the Israeli Defense Forces.
For Axel Fougner '12, pursuing an undergraduate education on two continents seemed fitting. A native Norwegian, he spent a year in Japan as an exchange student which he credits as sparking his interest in international education. After returning to Norway, he volunteered with the Young European Federalists and served as a communications operator aboard a Fast Patrol Boat during his year of compulsory military service. During a gap year, he took classes at a Norwegian liberal arts college and participated heavily in campus political organizations before entering Science Po's Middle Eastern and Mediterranean undergraduate program, where his goal was to help bridge the growing divide between Europe and the Islamic world. At Columbia, Axel was the president of the Babel Initiative, a group that funds and organizes research trips for undergraduates to me Middle East, and participated in campus theatre organizations and the Columbia Sailing club. As one of the inaugural students in the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and Sciences Po, Axel majored in economics. He would like to use his global education to work in international affairs with an organization like the EU or the UN.