Four civic-minded alumni named Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford

Four Yale alumni are among 76 graduate students who have been named 2021 Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University.
Mez Belo-Osagie, Charlotte Finegold, Tony Liu, Elliot Setzer

Top row: Mez Belo-Osagie, Charlotte Finegold; Bottom-row: Tony Liu, Elliot Setzer

Four Yale alumni are among 76 graduate students who have been named 2021 Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University.

They are Mez Belo-Osagie ’16, a Ph.D. candidate in political science in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences; Charlotte Finegold ’17, who is pursuing a J.D. at Stanford Law School; Tony Liu ’20, a Ph.D. student in bioengineering in the School of Engineering; and Elliot Setzer ’20, also pursuing a J.D. at Stanford Law School.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program cultivates and supports a multidisciplinary and multicultural community of graduate students and prepares them, through a diverse collection of educational experiences, to address complex challenges facing the world. Knight-Hennessy Scholars participate in the King Global Leadership Program and receive up to three years of financial support to pursue a graduate degree program in any of Stanford’s seven graduate schools.

The 76 new scholars from 26 countries and 37 degree programs will be joined by five scholars deferring from 2020. They are selected based on their demonstration of independence of thought, purposeful leadership, and a civic mindset.

Brief profiles of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars who are Yale alumni follow.

Mez Belo-Osagie, from Lagos, Nigeria, and Accra, Ghana, earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and African studies from Yale and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She plans to combine empirical research and impact litigation to limit the reach, influence, and punitiveness of the carceral state. At Yale, she co-founded the Yale Young African Scholars Program and won the James Gordon Bennett Prize for her senior thesis on the Boko Haram insurgency. After college, she worked at a counterinsurgency-focused think tank and at the Legal Defense and Assistance Project, challenging torture in Nigerian prisons. At Harvard Law School, she was the Supreme Court Co-Chair for the Harvard Law Review, represented defendants as a student-attorney, and, with the Lloyd Gaines Memorial Team, won Harvard’s Ames Moot Court Competition.

Charlotte Finegold, from Highland Park, New Jersey, has a master’s degree in refugee and forced migration studies from the University of Oxford and majored in English at Yale, where she was a Human Rights Scholar. She plans to advance reforms in U.S. immigration and criminal justice systems and represent those entangled in them. She has assisted refugees and migrants at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Advocates for Human Rights, Junta for Progressive Action, and the Legal Resources Center. At Yale Law School’s Schell Center for Human Rights, she helped shape advocacy to end solitary confinement and other rights abuses in Connecticut prisons. She serves as interim executive director at the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, where she co-created a human rights curriculum for high school and college classrooms in Somalia and a training program for teachers working with displaced students throughout Africa.

Tony Liu, from Dallas, Texas, graduated from Yale with a B.S. in physics. He is interested in supporting those facing severe neuropsychiatric conditions in pursuing meaningful, self-determined lives. To that end, he aspires to develop treatments that target precisely localized brain circuits at the optimal times to repair dysfunction. In labs at Yale, he helped develop protein tools that glow when brain cells are active, and applied those tools to improve understanding of computation in small brain circuits. He has interned on the healthcare/AI research team of a Chinese venture capital firm, and at the University of California-San Francisco performed biomarker discovery on the clinical trial team developing the first closed-loop neuromodulation therapy for treatment-resistant depression. He served as a public psychiatry fellow at the Connecticut Mental Health Center and is a recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship.

Elliot Setzer, from Ottawa, Canada, majored in political science at Yale and earned a master’s degree in political thought and intellectual history from the University of Cambridge. He previously studied at Deep Springs College, where he worked on the college’s farm and ranch. He hopes to pursue a career in academic or public service. He served as president of the Yale Political Union and is currently on the board of the Telluride Association.

At a time when humanity faces difficult challenges ranging from pandemic to climate change to racial justice, we are delighted to welcome a set of scholars determined to contribute to finding solutions and making a better world,” said John L. Hennessy, Stanford University’s president emeritus and the Shriram Family Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. 

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is named after Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike Inc., who earned his M.B.A. at Stanford. It is the largest endowed graduate fellowship in the world. The first cohort of scholars enrolled in 2018.

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