Alumni Accolades February 2015

Jacob Tobia

Jacob Tobia (2010) was featured on MTV as part of The T-Word, a documentary project about transgender and gender non-binary youth directed by Laverne Cox. Watch Jacob discuss the use of pronouns in this clip. Jacob has also been featured in the Washington Post, Upworthy, and Huffpost Live over the past few months.

Nicholas Cobb head and shoulders

Nicholas Cobb (2014) was named to The Root’s 2015 Young Futurists, who are young African-American men and women who are forging a path to future greatness.


Aaron Chadbourne (2002) has taken a new job as Senior Policy Advisor within the Office of the Governor in Maine. When she learned of this news, Jennifer Cruickshank with the Coca-Cola Company in New England invited him to an event where he reunited with David Dumont of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England – the same Bottler who presented him with his Coca-Cola Scholar certificate when he won the scholarship!

Christopher GrayChristopher Gray (2010) will be pitching his scholarship app, “Scholly,” to investors on Shark Tank on Friday, February 20 at 9 p.m. Eastern on ABC. According to the ABC teaser, interest in Christopher’s app “ignites into the most heated Shark fight ever with 3 of the Sharks walking out of the tank!” See a clip here.

Update! Scholly is now the #1 app in the itunes app store after making a deal on Shark Tank, trading $40,000 for a 15 percent stake in his company with Lori Greiner and Daymond John. Watch Christopher’s pitch and the Shark fight that ensued here.


Albert Lawrence (2003) co-hosted the Oscars pre-show and post-show on ABC as part of his new position as the Digital Media Producer for ABC7 in Los Angeles! You can follow his adventures at @talkoffame or @ABC7Albert.

State Farm Youth Advisory Board

Last month we shared that Raygan Sylvester became part of the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, and we have since found out that 8 Coca-Cola Scholars have served on the board in the past 2 years! Pictured above: Macie Whatley (2013), Anjali Bhatla (2013), Jake Bernstein (2012), Pavane Gorrrepati (2012), ​Justin Pearson (2013), Macy Early (2013), Raygan Sylvester (2014), and Suneil Kamath (2012).

Elizabeth FisherElizabeth Fisher’s (1996) photo is featured on a billboard in Atlanta as the face for the Georgia Tech Executive MBA program!

Amrit Saxena (2011) sold Fancy That Technologies, a machine learning and analytics company he founded, to Palantir Technologies, a large data integration and analytics company. News of the buy-out has appeared in TechCrunchFortune, and Entrepreneur.

Jesse Bernal (2000) was recently hired as Vice President of the Division for Inclusion and Equity at Grand Valley State University.

Alumni Connections February 2015

RIC Atlanta GroupA great group of alumni came together at The Coca-Cola Company headquarters in Atlanta as part of our Regional Interview Committee. The group included: Torarie Durden (1994), Michael Hanley (1996), Andrea Camille Young (1990), J.J. Jaxon (1994), Valerie Love (1990), Darian Dabney (2005), Greg Melia (1989), and Kim Rash (1990).

Atlanta gathering

…and then Atlanta Scholars came together in a much more informal setting in late February!

Ben and Makila

Ben Anders (2007) and Micaela Connery (2004) met up while Ben was visiting Boston last week.

Liz and Taylor

Elizabeth Fisher (1996) and her 3-month-old daughter Taylor joined us for lunch in our office.

We were happy to bring together several groups of alumni while traveling for regional interviews the first weekend in February!

houston dinner1 again

Scholars in Houston came together not just one night…

houston alums at benjys

…but two!

Anjali, Rohit, Varsha and Sharmila

Houston also had a wonderful group of alumni who volunteered during the interviews: Anjali (2013), Rohit (2014), Varsha (2014) and Sharmila (2014).

philly thurs dinner

Not to be outdone, Philadelphia Scholars met up on Thursday…

Philly dinner 2

…and Friday!

San Fran dinner

San Francisco Scholars came together for dinner.

Patti and alums in NYC.jpg

Scholars in New York caught up Saturday evening.

photo (8)

Chicago Scholars had dinner and embraced the winter weather.

Jason Feldman Kavita Swaroop and Travis

Jason Feldman (1990) and his partner Travis got together for dinner with Kavita Shukla (2002) and her business partner Swaroop when she was in Chapel Hill as a speaker for the TEDxUNC conference.

Mark with Carolyne and kids

Carolyne Dilgard-Clark (1995) visited the CCSF office with her kids during a cross-country road trip before moving to Switzerland.

Joel Martin

Alumnus and now 2015 Banquet sponsor Joel Martin (1996) came to visit with Foundation staff and make plans for placing his Brightbox charging stations on site during Scholars Weekend!


Alumni Connections January 2015

BYU Scholars

Coca-Cola Scholars at Brigham Young University came together for pizza and Coke!

Emily Zhen, Bryan Rodriguez and Dawit Gebresellassie

2014 Scholars Emily Zhen, Bryan Rodriguez and Dawit Gebresellassie took a group picture at the University of Pennsylvania’s Yacht Night.

Bret Bechis

Bret Bechis (2001), General Manager for Lyft in San Francisco, stopped by The Coca-Cola Company to visit with Foundation staff during a business trip in Atlanta.

Sarah and Radhika

Sandy Williams Alumni Legacy Scholars Sarah Williams (2011) and Radhika Mitra (2010) met in San Jose and posed for this picture in front of Tava Indian Kitchen, owned by Scholar Jason Pate (2005).

David Lindsay

The Foundation staff caught up with David Lindsay (2008), currently in medical school in Philadelphia, as he passed through Atlanta.

Alumni Accolades January 2015

Madison and Kassra

2013 Scholars Madison Pfaff and Kassra Homaifar were Masters of Ceremonies at the TEDxUNC Talks last week. Kavita Shukla (2002), inventor of Fresh Paper and CEO of Fenugreen, spoke during the conference and Karsten Coates (2012) performed.


Angelo Volandes (1989) recently published a book, The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-life Care. The book is a part memoir and part guide about how American medicine fails patients with serious illness and offers a better approach to improve how Americans live as well as possible for as long as possible. Angelo hopes that it will help translate the intangible complexities of medicine into clear terms so that patients and their families can be empowered and informed when making decisions about how they want to be cared for.

Scott Jennings (1996) was selected as a Bingham Fellow as part of a leadership program of the Leadership Louisville Center. The fellowship seeks to better understand how government works and build a collaborative network to improve how cities partner with state government.


We are excited to share that 3 Coca-Cola Scholars have been selected as part of Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2015:

Neil Chheda (2004), part of the Venture Capital group, is Co-founder of Romulus Capital, a company keen to invest in early-stage start-ups. Their portfolio includes companies such as ScholarLocker, Gyft, and Soundtracker.

Jason Shah (2007), named to the Consumer Tech group, is the Founder of, a company that helps people run productive meetings. allows attendees to create visual timelines for meetings, provides a shared canvas for attendees to keep notes, and sends automatic meeting summaries.

Sara Volz (2013), listed in the Energy group, won the top $100,000 award in the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search after conducting an experiment that prompted algae to increase oil production which resulted in creating a powerful alternative to energy from fossil fuel. Look what Sara is up to at MIT in this video created by Intel. Fun fact: Eric Chen (2014) won the top award in 2014 for his research about new treatments for influenza!

Philip McAdoo

Philip McAdoo (1989), former Broadway star of Lion King and Rent, has been chosen to participate in the 2015 Junior Theater Festival on January 16-18, 2015, at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta.

Raygan Sylvester

Raygan Sylvester (2014) was selected to be on the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. These young people will be responsible for dispersing $5 million in grant money to applying nonprofits. Raygan is pictured from when she received a $2,500 grant from State Farm for her nonprofit Think SAFE (Seatbelts Are For Everyone).

Chris Dzurick (2011) was hired in September 2014 as the state director of Missouri FBLA-PBL (Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda) within the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This places him in charge of approving new and reactivating chapters, working with advisers on membership and recruitment, helping to organize dozens of local conferences, and planning a multi-day state conference of leadership workshops, competitive events and keynotes for members at all levels of the organization.

Alex Dzurick (2008) recently became a published author with his chapter “Water and energy: Essential to the urban landscape” in the e-book Urban Environmental Education, published by Cornell University, EECapacity, and the North American Association for Environmental Education. This project brought together local environmental education experts from urban areas across the country to contribute chapters focusing on educational issues of concern to urban environments.

Both Elise Stefanik (2002) and Ben Sasse (1990) were sworn in last week to their new positions in Congress and the Senate. Read about their election in our November post.

Alumni Accolades December 2014

HALO Awards 2014

Yash Gupta (2014), pictured left with host Nick Cannon and other recipients, received a 2014 Teen Nick HALO award for his organization Sight Learning, which donates glasses to students in need. Yash was also the previous recipient of a 2013 CNN Hero Award.

Zach and Matthew

Zachary Certner (2014) received a Teen Nick HALO Award for July in honor of his non-profit SNAP, Inc., which he co-founded with his brother Matthew Certner (2009), and both are pictured celebrating above. SNAP, Inc. stands for Special Needs Athletic Programs and helps children with autism through sports programs.

Neha and Nicholas

Nicholas Cobb (2014) won a Nick Teen HALO award for December in celebration of his non-profit Comfort and Joy that collects coats for the homeless. Neha Gupta (2014), highlighted last month for receiving the International Childrens Peace Prize, won an award for June for her non-profit Empower Orphans, which supplies orphans with educational resources and proper medical care.

Daron Roberts

Daron Roberts (1997) was named as the founding director of the Institute for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas.

Evans Anyanwu

Evans Anyanwu (1996) and his brother Ike appeared on Queen Latifah’s talk show to honor her mother, Mrs. Owens, who was their mentor and teacher growing up at Frank H. Morrell High School in Irvington, New Jersey.

Ben Zauzmer

Ben Zauzmer (2011), a senior at Harvard, was named to The Harvard Crimson’s list of 15 Most Interesting Seniors. Ben took special care to give Coca-Cola a nod! Photo credit: Connie Yan/The Harvard Crimson.

Alice Park

Alice Park (1999) of Alice Park Photography in Atlanta was recently on Fox Atlanta discussing her ideas on taking the perfect family holiday card and creative uses for your cards.


Alumni Connections December 2014

HarvardHarvard 2014 Coca-Cola Scholars reconnected and reminisced about their Scholars Weekend. Around the table: Jessica Zhao, Emily Zauzmer, Raj Vatsa, Eric Chen, Neel Mehta, Cole Scanlon, William Wu, and Nina Srivastava.


Tess Maggio (2012) brought together a group of Coca-Cola Scholars at Yale University.

Nathan, Jack and Angela

The Coca-Cola Company invited Scholars Nathan Sharp (2004), Jack McKinstry (2000) and Angela Harrell (1991) to the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Gala in New York City on December 3.

Wesley Mathis

Wes Matthis (1996) came by the Coca-Cola Scholars office while he was in town from Orlando.

Victoria Solomon Razin

Victoria Solomon Razin (2009) just moved to town and came by the Foundation offices for an Atlanta welcome.

Eric and Grant

Eric Beeler (2013) and Grant Means (2012) came by to say hello, and Eric brought us some beautiful combs from his year abroad in China.

Eric and Senators

During his visit, Eric showed us this selfie he took on his flight to Atlanta with Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Senator Kelly Ayotte!

Alumni Accolades November 2014

Elise and Ben

November 4 was a big night for Elise Stefanik (2002) in New York and Ben Sasse (1990) in Nebraska – Elise became the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress and Ben is now the first Scholar to be voted into the U.S. Senate!

Neha Gupta

Neha Gupta (2014) became the first American to receive the International Children’s Peace Prize! Neha was honored for her work through Empower Orphans, an organization she began when 9 years old. The mission of Empower Orphans is to elevate the well being of orphaned and underprivileged children and empower them to succeed, by helping them help themselves. Desmond Tutu presented Neha with her award in The Hague, Netherlands on the award’s 10th anniversary. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Adan Gonzalez

Adan Gonzalez (2011) was named Coors Light’s Lider of the Year, receiving a $25,000 grant to implement a Latino leadership project for AVANCE-Dallas, a community-based, nonprofit organization that provides support and education services to at-risk, economically impoverished families. Watch a video of Adan’s recent Tedx talk here.

Jourdan Ubrach

Jourdan Urbach (2009), Co-founder of Ocho, a video-sharing app received $1.65 million in funding from Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, along with other investors. Ocho allows users to add voiceovers and control videos’ volume among other features.

Mehul Patel

Mehul Patel (1994) was named to The Urban Land 40 Under 40, representing the best young land use professionals from around the globe.

Camille Borders

Camille Borders (2014) was named a 2014 Young Woman of Distinction, the highest honor in Girl Scouting.

Christopher Gray

Christopher Gray (2010), the Drexel undergrad founder of scholarship mobile app Scholly, was named on BET’s list of “Young Men on the Brink of Making It Big.” Gray just won Drexel’s annual incubator competition and will pitch on ABC’s “Shark Tank” later this season.

Corey Rennell

Core Foods, founded by CEO Corey Rennell (2003) , was named in the Top 100 List of the Bay Area’s Fastest Growing Companies.

Angela Harrell

Angela Harrell (1991) has been named the head of the ING Voya Foundation and Office of Corporate Social Responsibility. She began her new role on October 20.

Justin Pasquariello

Justin Pasquariello (1997) is featured in a Huffington Post article highlighting the importance of role models to children in the foster care system. Justin grew up in foster care and went on to start Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring organization.

Kathryn Minshew

Kathryn Minshew (2004), CEO and co-founder of The Muse, was listed in Glamour Magazine’s “35 Women Under 35 Who Are Changing the Tech Industry”.



Alumni Connections November 2014

St. Louis

The Foundation wrapped up a fall filled with receptions in St. Louis.

Carolyn and Julia Li

While visiting St. Louis, Alumni Relations Manager Carolyn Norton and her nieces enjoyed dinner at LuLu Seafood, owned by Julia Li (2006) and her family.

Celeste, Anna, and Nilofer

Celeste Bottorff, VP, Global Health and Well-being at The Coca-Cola Company visited Purdue as one of the school’s “Old Masters,” ten successful and outstanding individuals who come to campus for the purpose of sharing ideas and experiences with the student body. Nilofer Rajpurkar (2013, pictured right) was part of the committee welcoming the group, and asked to be paired with Celeste. Anna Ye (2012, pictured left) attended a dinner during the event, Dining with the Dignitaries, where all three were able to connect.

Ryan and ChiaRyan speaking to Chia's class

Chia-Jung Tsay (2000) invited Ryan McCannell (1989), Division Chief for Conflict, Peacebuilding and Governance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Africa in Washington, DC, to speak to her negotiations class at Wharton Business School.

Natalia, Walter and Madison

Married Scholars Natalia (2004) and Walter Menjivar (2005) attended the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner in Stamford, CT as guests of Coca-Cola. They are pictured with Madison Bedard, Coca-Cola Public Affairs in Connecticut.

Kim and Carolyn in Uganda

Kim Rash (1990) and Alumni Relations Manager Carolyn Norton traveled to Uganda on a mission trip as part of an organization called 410 Bridge. They are pictured with two of their new Ugandan friends Sarah and Faith.

Julie Gehrki

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation staff enjoyed a visit from Julie Gehrki (1998), Senior Director at the Walmart Foundation.

Groovy Coca-Cola Halloween

The Coca-Cola Company welcomed Coca-Cola Scholars from local colleges to their “Groovy Coca-Cola” Halloween bash at Company headquarters on October 31.  Pictured are Foundation President J. Mark Davis, and 2012 Scholars Tina Ho, Stephen Fowler and Preston Culbertson.


Alumni Accolades October 2014

Forbes Group

5 Coca-Cola Scholars are included in Forbes 30 Under 30 List!

Jenni Newbury on the Meredith Viera Show

Jenni Newbury (2006), Executive Director and founder of PALS programs was featured on the Meredith Vieira Show this month!  PALS Programs creates immersive experiences where young adults with Down syndrome and their peers have fun, grow as individuals, and develop transformative friendships.  Their programs take place in the form of weeklong sleep-away camps, weekend Adventures and an initiative called The Congratulations Project.  This project provides our campers the opportunity to write letters to new parents of babies with Down syndrome. During the show segment, Jenni reunited a camper and the baby to whom the letter was written.

Tyrha Lindsey

Tyrha Lindsey (1990) has been named President of the PhD Project’s Marketing Doctoral Students Association. The PhD Project was established by The KPMG Foundation in 1994 to increase workplace diversity by increasing the diversity of business school faculty who encourage, mentor, support and enhance the preparation of tomorrow’s leaders.

A junior at Pacific University, Jordan ‘Bruno’ Gegenhuber (2012) was recently awarded an $8,000 scholarship from the NASA Oregon Space Grant Consortium! He also recently completed a Summer-long Residential Science Research Internship with the NASA Space Life Sciences Program at NASA Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale, California.

Alumni Connections October 2014

Receptions continued as Foundation staff visited Scholars in the Northeast, Pittsburgh, and California!

Boston Reception

Boston reception on October 6.

Providence Reception

Providence reception on October 7.

New Haven

New Haven reception on October 8.

New York

New York reception on October 9.

Pittsburgh Reception

Pittsburgh reception on October 15.

Palo Alto Reception

Palo Alto reception on October 20.

San Francisco Reception

San Francisco reception on October 21.

AAB Retreat

The Alumni Advisory Board traveled to Atlanta to brainstorm and further develop alumni initiatives with our staff October 3-5. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect and discuss how to best serve the alumni network!

Tyrha and Nicole

Nicole Thompson (2010) and Tyrha Lindsey (1990) sat next to each other at the 2013 Leadership Summit for Scholar alumni and immediately bonded over their shared interest in TV and film. The two kept in touch, and Tyrha helped Nicole apply to and receive an internship in Hollywood at NBC with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – the same internship she had after graduating college! Congratulations to Nicole, and thank you to Tyrha for serving as her mentor.

Sarah and Jennifer

Coca-Cola Scholar Sarah Perkins (2007) participated in the launch of Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness in Boston (pictured with Coca-Cola Public Affairs & Communications Director Jennifer Cruickshank). Thanks to $3 million in funding from the Coca-Cola Foundation, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department will now be able to offer free classes instructed by military veterans at parks and community centers citywide. Veterans will lead exercise programs including boot camps, golf clinics, cardio and strength training classes, running groups, family yoga, zumba, hiking workouts, and more.

Scholars at Atlanta Wedding

2004 Scholars (from left to right) Quinn Rallins, Travers Johnson, Geraldine Pierre, Chris Neely and Bryan Nails came together for Chris’s Atlanta wedding in September.

Bowdoin Scholars

Bowdoin College Scholars (left to right) Nicholas Mitch (2014), Marc Berson (2014), Wylie Mao (2014), and Justin Pearson (2013) got together on a Friday night for pizza and Coca-Cola!

Carrie and Jason in San Francisco

Jason Pate (2005) and Carrie Regan (1989) met at Jason’s restaurant, Tava Indian Kitchen, in San Francisco.

Stanford Scholars


Scholars at Stanford University came together for pizza and Coca-Cola and thoroughly enjoyed recycling their bottles afterward.

MA Health Council Gala

Stesha Doku (2004), Sandy Lor (2010), Nicole Black (2010) and Chaarushena Deb (2014) attended the Massachusetts Health Council Award Gala with Coca-Cola Public Affairs & Communications Director Jennifer Cruickshank last week.

Abby Martin in Iceland

Abby Martin (2007) spent the summer in Iceland and took this photo with her favorite brand!

Megan and Jason Harlow

Megan Barber (CCSF) ran into Jason Harlow (2006) in the Atlanta airport last month.

Mark and Jeremy O'Brien

The Foundation staff enjoyed a visit from Jeremy O’Brien (2012).