Coke Scholars Featured as Bold Risk-Takers by Forbes

Each year, Forbes announces its 30 Under 30 list, naming 30 innovators in 20 different fields. Each honoree is distinguished as one of the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators, and game changers in the country.

Forbes named 5 Coca-Cola Scholar honorees – here’s how they’re positively impacting the world as leaders in their field.

The content below was originally posted on or on the honoree’s websites.


Sally Nuamah

2007 Coca-Cola Scholar

Founder of The TWII Foundation


Sally Nuamah is a scholar, advocate and filmmaker, focusing on the use of research and digital mediums to tell stories of the disadvantaged. In 2007, she was awarded the Princeton Prize by Princeton University alumni for her work in improving race relations. That same year she was also selected among thousands of students for the National Coca-Cola scholarship and the Gates Millennium scholarship.

In the fall of 2008, Sally had the great opportunity to work for president Barack Obama as a health policy intern. In 2009, she began collecting footage for her documentary, HerStory, on girls and Education in Ghana. This work was highlighted in her 2013 TEDx talk, Clapping with One Hand, in addition her film’s selection as ” Best Educational Documentary Short” at Bare Bones; a film festival ranked top 20 by PBS for Documentaries. The film has screened across the globe and is now accessible through Discovery Education. In addition to the film, she began a scholarship organization, the TWII Foundation, to provide funding for girls striving to be first in the families to go to college. The foundation just celebrated its first set of graduates in May 2016. For her broader work, she was selected as a “nominated change maker” for the White House State of Women Summit, selected for a BWOPA under 40 award in education named one of Chicago’s 35 under 35 leaders making an impact.

After graduating at GWU, she was awarded the GWU Manatt-Trachtenberg Award, presented to a student who has significantly challenged the social and intellectual conscience of the university, inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity, and named one of two Distinguished Scholars; the highest mark of distinction at the university. She is now a member of the Board of trustee at GWU.

In 2014, she was selected for the National Science Foundation fellowship and began her studies as a PhD Candidate at Northwestern University. In 2014, She was named a pre-doctoral fellow recipient at the University of Pennsylvania and began conducting research for a number of groups including the USAID and the United Nations Foundation. Most recently, she was named a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University and a Women and Public Policy fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. In the fall of 2018, she will began a tenure track professor position at Duke University.



Derrick Mar

2012 Coca-Cola Scholar

Co-founder of Pathrise


After years of offering career advice and mentorship, Derrick and his co-founder, Kevin Wu, realized how hard it was to start your career alone. They found that career services today just aren’t effective, especially compared to the cost of education and how little is guaranteed in careers after graduation. They decided to change that — so they started Pathrise.

Pathrise is a career accelerator for competitive jobs and internships in the tech industry that’s 100% free until you’re hired. Participants work 1-on-1 with several advisors from top companies like Facebook, Apple and Dropbox to build technical, professional and industry skills.

Before tackling the challenge of building the technical infrastructure of Pathrise, Derrick was a software engineer at Facebook, where he was one of the founding engineers of the team responsible for the first ever 3D Facebook posts. Before that, Derrick explored the intersection of AI and education, founding AI Grading, a platform that optimizes the grading and analysis of student practice exams in the test prep industry, and also working as one of the earliest software engineers at Gradescope.



Alex Morse

2007 Coca-Cola Scholar

Mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts


Alex Morse was first elected mayor of his hometown of Holyoke, Massachusetts, as a senior at Brown University in 2012 when he was just 22-years-old. As the city’s first openly gay mayor, he’s won reelection in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

On Mayor Morse’s watch, investments in downtown Holyoke total more than $30 million. The mill buildings that once made Holyoke the world’s largest paper manufacturer are enabling Holyoke to become a hub of innovation and creativity. The administration has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to launch the SPARK Program, an initiative designed to give people from Holyoke the tools they need to start their own businesses.

Mayor Morse has overseen the initiation and completion of several new development projects, including the Canal Walk, new apartments in the former Holyoke Catholic building, the brand new train platform in downtown Holyoke, the expansion of Gary Rome Hyundai, and the redevelopment of the Holyoke Hotel. On his watch, community policing strategies have led to drops in crime, property values have gone up, and the unemployment rate has dropped.

As a result of the Morse administration’s efforts, the national publication Popular Mechanics recently named Holyoke the 6th best “Startup City” in the nation, recognizing our efforts to create a climate for turning innovators into entrepreneurs.



Jonathan Padilla

2007 Coca-Cola Scholar

Co-founder of Karakul


Karakul helps companies start 100 fundraising conversations, worldwide, in under 30 minutes. They use data science to transform company information into digital “storybooks” that are easy to understand, share, and browse on mobile devices.

Jonathan M. Padilla previously served in President Obama’s White House, and has an extensive background in government, venture capital, and blockchain regulation. He’s worked in venture capital in Silicon Valley and East Africa.

Since leaving public service, Jonathan has acted as the senior advisor to a Chinese e-commerce firm and a multinational natural resources firm on blockchain-related regulation and technology. He speaks Spanish fluently and is conversational in Mandarin. He received a degree in government from Harvard College, a Masters of Public Policy from Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, where he was a Startup Nation Fellow, and a Masters of Economics and Business from Tsinghua University, where he was a Schwarzman Scholar.

Jonathan’s dissertation on global regulation of cryptocurrency was recently published and is being reviewed by the Financial Stability Board.



Frederick Grimm

2010 Coca-Cola Scholar

Co-founder of FIXD


Frederick Grimm (left), John Gattuso, and Julian Knight were seniors at Georgia Institute of Technology when they started FIXD, a diagnostic screening app for your car. The trio launched the business on Kickstarter in 2014 with a campaign that raised $37,000, and it has since grown exponentially.

FIXD has two components: the FIXD Sensor and the FIXD App. The FIXD sensor relays car problems from the vehicle’s diagnostic port to the FIXD app via Bluetooth. The driver is given the severity of the issue, the consequences of continued driving, and a simple definition of what is wrong. The app then offers the driver the opportunity to schedule a service at the repair shop or find the parts they need to get the job done.



The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation celebrates and empowers visionary leaders who are refreshing the world. With its 31st class of Coca-Cola Scholars, the Foundation has provided more than $70 million in scholarships to over 6,300 program alumni who together have become a powerful force for positive change.