Torch Scholars

Meet the 2023 Scholars


Major: Behavioral Neuroscience

Hometown/High School: Shiprock, NM/Santa Fe Indian School

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Alec was born in Shiprock, New Mexico and later moved to Farmington, New Mexico. He attended Santa Fe Indian School, beginning in 7th grade, a boarding school located three hours from his rural hometown. Throughout Alec’s high school path, he participated and had an officer role in 10 organizations and was team captain for four different sports. Alec is one of the first Native Americans to become a Torch recipient and is planning on expanding diversity at Northeastern by introducing Native Americans to Torch. Alec is a confident and motivated individual who is responsible and has a high level of integrity. Furthermore, he takes initiative to identify problems and devise solutions. Native American adolescents and youth are Alec’s primary source of motivation, as they will be the next leaders in society. Ultimately, Alec is planning on becoming a doctor on the Navajo Nation to benefit Native patients. His major concentrating in neuroscience will provide his foundation to understanding the practice of Neurology.


Major: Criminal Justice & Political Science

Hometown/High School: Boston, MA/Charlestown High School

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Kashaye was born in raised in Boston, MA. She grew up in a single-family home with the support of her mother and two younger brothers and knew from a very young age that she would be her family’s ticket to a better life. Kashaye watched her mother struggle to provide for their family without the help of anyone and decided it was time for a change. It is through seeing her mother’s amazing qualities that Kashaye learned how to be a strong independent young woman. It was then that she developed a passion for government, politics, and social justice as she saw the things her community struggled with such as homelessness, food insecurity, unfair policing and not enough places dedicated to youth development. Kashaye is currently studying Political Science and Criminal Justice with hopes to become a juvenile lawyer so she can represent the youth in Boston that are victims to the flawed criminal justice system.


Major: Political Science & Philosophy

Hometown/High School: Lake City, SC/Lake City High School

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Damian Lee is a local of Lake City, South Carolina where he and his siblings were raised by their single mother.  In spite of his humble beginnings, he believed that what he had to overcome would not be the determining factor of his future, but a stepping stone towards his success. In high school, Damian demonstrated leadership as a performing artist, meticulously perfecting his performances in the Lake City High School Ensemble, Lake City High School Gospel Choir, Dramatic Coffee Beans Theatre Group, and community theatre. Damian has also distinguished himself in such leadership roles as President of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, President of the Lake City High School Ensemble, President of the Lake City High School Gospel Choir, Vice-President of the National Honor Society, and more. Damian’s community and civic engagement has not gone unrecognized. On November 7, 2017, Lake City Mayor, Lovith Anderson, presented Damian with the ‘Key to The City,’ the first such recognition bestowed on a high school student. By the end of Damian’s high school journey, he graduated with his General Studies degree from his local community college. Damian will now be majoring in Political Science and Philosophy, with a minor in African-American Studies. He plans on becoming a civil rights attorney to advocate for justice and equitable sentencing guidelines so that the law is truly colorblind. The rich and poor should have access to fair legal representation, equal protection under the law, and equal prosecution of those who violate the law.


Major: Psychology & Criminal Justice

Hometown/High School: Denver, CO/Culver Academy, IN

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Alena was raised in Agency Village, South Dakota then moved to Denver, Colorado for better opportunities. However, she was given the opportunity to attend Culver Academy, a boarding school in Indiana. There, she was able to develop leadership skills and understand her passion. Due to being surrounded by many different kinds of people and growing up on both a reservation and in a Latino community, she is inspired to help and understand people. She hopes to be an example for everyone in her community and help those in need.


Major: Behavioral Neuroscience

Hometown/High School: Tukwila, WA/Foster High School

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Wanting a better future, Siang and her family migrated to Malaysia from Myanmar (Burma) when she was nine. From there, they came as refugees to Seattle, Washington. Although learning a new language and lifestyle was a challenge that affected her academically and personally, she managed to overcome this barrier and excelled in school. Siang loves volunteering and being involved in her community. She was an ambassador for Young Women Empowered and Summer Search Luncheon, raising funds for the organizations. She is also an AVID alumni, which she believes shaped her into who she is today. She wants to become “a doctor without a border”, traveling the world to help and cure marginalized communities. She intends to major in behavioral neuroscience to fulfill her dream.


Major: Cell & Molecular Biology

Hometown/High School: Belmont, MA/Belmont High School

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Olivia was born in Massachusetts, but lived all up and down the East Coast. She graduated high school from Belmont High School in Belmont where she currently resides with her foster family. In high school, Olivia spent most of her time studying and volunteering for Massachusetts Foster Care Alumni alongside Tito Jackson.  Olivia credits More Than Words, a non-profit job training opportunity for system-involved kids, for her success in her community and in Torch. Olivia hopes to get her Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology and move on to become a forensic pathologist.


Major: Architecture

Hometown/High School: Portland, OR/De La Salle North Catholic High School

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Shalona is a bright student from Portland, Oregon and attended De La Salle North Catholic High School in North Portland. Because Shalona has been a levelheaded student throughout her trials, she has never let the negative influences impact her persona in any way, leading her to be one of the top students in her class. Shalona is drawn to the architecture field because she aspires to make living environments more sustainable and accessible for everyone. She would like to challenge the field by diversifying and changing the perspective of the dominant figures in the architecture field.


Major: Communications & Sociology

Hometown/High School: South Bend, IN/John Adams High School

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Tiana Mudzimurema was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana and attended John Adams High. Amongst friends and family, Tiana would be described as compassionate, full of life, and adventurous and when it came to an academic setting, it remained the same. In high school Tiana was involved in every club she could join, from International Student Organization to Chess Club; if there was group to be a part of she was there. Not only was she involved in her high school, she was also involved in her community. She was a member at the Robinson Community Learning Center; a center that works with youth from low-income families to ensure academic success. Being a part of her community center gave her many opportunities from traveling to NYC to perform at Lincoln Center for a national Shakespeare competition to going to Germany to compete in an international robotics competition. She considers each group she’s been a member of as her family. She found what the definition of family was through her school and community. Here at Northeastern University, Tiana is hoping to form another family here, and she believes she already has through being a Torch Scholar.


Major: Political Science & International Affairs

Hometown/High School: Hattiesburg, MS/Northern Guilford High School

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Otis was born and raised in Hattiesburg, MS but moved his junior year to Greensboro, NC to finish up high school at Northern Guilford High. Otis is known to be an advocate of social justice and change in his community. While living in Greensboro he joined the Greensboro Youth Council where he was the volunteer coordinator for their annual Goulash Children’s Festival. While at Northern, Otis also became President of his Senior Class and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where he was able to provide a voice for those in his class who did not feel as if they had one. He also started a guys’ small group for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where accountability and the importance of brotherhood was taught. Otis plans to have a combined major in Political Science and International Affairs with a concentration in International Diplomacy. With these majors, he wants to become an international lawyer for victims of sex trafficking to call attention to this everyday issue that goes unnoticed in the black community and abroad.


Major: Cognitive Psychology

Hometown/High School: Baltimore, MD/Bard High School

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Tyreke was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where he graduated from Bard High School Early College with his Associate’s Degree and two years worth of college credits. A common theme during Tyreke’s life is his love for exploration and learning, so while growing up, college had always been a dream. As he got older, his goals changed from just learning as much as possible to fostering a positive narrative about the people that his hometown produced and helping his family as much as possible. In high school, Tyreke participated in multiple clubs and organizations, with The Intersection being the one that had the greatest impact. Through the Intersection, Tyreke was able to advocate for social change on behalf of Baltimore City’s youth. He has participated in campaigns concerning the Baltimore Consent Decree, The Children and Youth Investment act, and the Locked Box campaign. Because of Tyreke’s drive for change, he has served as a chairman for the organization. He hopes to graduate with his degree in Cognitive Psychology so he can help touch as many people’s lives as possible.


Major: Engineering

Hometown/High School: Baghdad, Iraq

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Mohammed was born in Baghdad, Iraq, but he was raised in Damascus, Syria. He migrated to the United States in 2014, escaping multiple wars. Mohammed is a highly motivated individual who has persevered and always strived to be the very best version of himself. He wants to help every member of his family pick themselves back up after the various setbacks they faced. He learned to always keep hope and a positive mental attitude after he came close to losing his life to cancer. Mohammed wants to major in Engineering to feed his innovative and creative spirit. He hopes to change the world and make a difference no matter how small it is.