Amber Kiffer graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and an emphasis on Russia’s recent political and economic transitions. She’s worked in logistics as a dispatcher for several different transportation companies and is interested in Russian foreign policy and the effects of energy security.
Jesse Mitchell was born and raised in rural Western Pennsylvania. He attended the Pennsylvania State University for his undergrad, where he studied Russian, French, and history. After graduation, Jesse spent several years abroad, studying and working in France, Italy and Russia.
Ben Moody graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in Foreign Affairs and Russian Language and Literature. After graduation, he began work as a Senior Program Assistant at the National Democratic Institute in Washington DC, helping oversee the implementation of the Institute’s democracy assistance programs in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Alexis Mrachek grew up in San Antonio, Texas and attended Texas A&M University, where she double-majored in Russian and International Studies. She took weekly Russian classes in high school in preparation for two mission trips to Odessa, Ukraine, and has been fascinated with the Eurasia region ever since.
An active duty US Army officer since 2007, Major Danny O’Connor is a foreign area officer (48D), specializing in Central and South Asia. He brings experience from combat zones in the Middle East, isolated island nations in the Pacific, and most recently acted as the deputy chief of the Office of Military Cooperation, US Embassy Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Sarah Oldham is from Bradenton, Florida and attended the New College of Florida, where she studied Political Science and Area Studies. Sarah spent two summers in Turkey prior to coming to CERES, one in Alanya on a Critical Language Scholarship and one as an intern for the Istanbul office of the law firm Chadbourne & Parke.
Lillian Posner graduated from Oberlin College in 2017 with a degree in Russian & Eastern European Studies and History. She wrote her Senior Thesis on the Soviet poet Olga Berggolts and postwar disillusionment and traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia to conduct research in the Central State Archive of Literature and the Arts.
Michael Rendelman is from Washington, DC. He began studying Russian in high school as part of a summer exchange program in St. Petersburg. Michael went on to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he received his bachelor’s degree in Russian language and history and spent a semester studying in Moscow through the ACTR program.
Maggie Samuels is from Searsmont, Maine. She attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she majored in Turkish Studies and Computer Science. Her research is oriented around pan-Turkic movements and the ties between nationalism and language shifts.
Na Sha is originally from China and received her undergraduate degree from Fudan University in Shanghai. In addition to majoring in Russian and minoring in Diplomacy and Public Affairs, she completed exchange programs at Moscow City University and Washington University in St. Louis.