Five Hart Leadership Fellows to Tackle Community Issues

10-month fellowship sends students around the world to develop partnerships and conduct research

New Hart Leadership Fellows, clockwise from top left: Ashley Bae, Corali Francisco-Zelkine, Ruthie Kesri, Khilan Walker and Rishab Jagetia.

The 2024-2025 Hart Fellows

Ashley Bae (she/her)

Ashley is from Leesburg, Virginia, majoring in public policy and cultural anthropology, with a minor in global health. On campus, she serves as the executive vice president of Duke Student Government and president of Duke KAjok, Duke's Korean American student organization. In her free time, Ashley enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, watching Korean dramas, and cooking.

Ashley will spend her Hart Fellowship year in Oakland, California, working to better understand and amplify multi-racial and intersectional coalition building in the reproductive justice movement, with a focus on Asian American mobilization. Through immersing herself in a city with such rich and diverse community organizing history, Ashley hopes to contribute to and learn from the Oakland community in meaningful and energizing ways.

Corali Francisco-Zelkine (she/her)

Corali was born and raised in South Florida, with family from France and the Dominican Republic. In May, Corali will be a first-generation graduate with majors in cultural anthropology and global health, and a minor in sociology.

At Duke, she is the co-artistic director of Street Medicine Street-style Dance team and a former dance captain of Nakisai African Dance Ensemble. She is also a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, and has spent her senior year working on an ethnographic research project on the relationship between reproductive justice and community. Off campus, Corali works at the Emily K Center with elementary and middle school students as a program assistant, where she has developed a passion for working with youth.

Through the Hart Fellowship, Corali will be traveling to Bahia, Brazil – at the Instituto Cultural Bantu (ICB) – to explore further her interests in education, community, and social justice. This community-based and community-led organization focuses on youth support and racial justice through mentorship, academic tutoring, and Afro-Brazilian cultural practices such as capoeira Angola. During her fellowship, Corali plans to carry out another ethnographic project looking at how the programs offered at the ICB promote community-building and empowerment. 

Rishab Jagetia (he/him)

Rishab will graduate in May with a major in environmental sciences and policy. A Houston resident, Rishab has worked in climate activism, environmental justice work, and researching how energy transitions are affecting rural populations. On campus, he organizes with the Transformative Systems Project student group around economic systems change and increasing political consciousness on campus. When not working on intellectual pursuits, Rishab loves hiking, playing sports, dancing, and cooking with his friends.

Rishab will spend his Hart Fellowship building upon his undergraduate thesis research by investigating how the energy transition is impacting rural, indigenous populations in La Guajira, Colombia. He will study how local populations define human flourishing and sustainable development and how these definitions should influence environmental and economic policy frameworks in the country.

Ruthie Kesri (she/her)

Ruthie Kesri is from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and studies political science, religion, and global health at Duke. With a passion for foreign policy, her focus lies in conflict resolution and peace-building, reflected in her work at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the State Department's U.S. Mission to the United Nations. On campus, Ruthie holds leadership roles with the UNICEF club and the American Grand Strategy Student Council.

Ruthie will spend her Hart Fellowship year advancing global conflict resolution efforts in Northern Ireland to inform her intended career of supporting mediation in post-conflict settings.

Khilan Walker (he/him)

Khilan is a graduating senior from Olive Branch, Mississippi, majoring in political science and minoring in African & African American studies. Khilan played four years of football for Duke, is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., and has also participated in the Service Opportunities in Leadership (SOL) and Patman Political Engagement Project programs through the Hart Leadership Program. Khilan has conducted research on educational discrimination and the pressurization of athletics upon Black youth. Outside of Duke, Khilan enjoys making clothes and watching sports.

During his Hart Fellowship year, Khilan plans to partner with Durham Success Summit. He aims to craft a new curriculum for both teachers and students, with the goals of cultivating inclusive classroom environments for minority students.

To learn more about the Hart Leadership Program and the Hart Fellowship, visit our website.