Eight New Jersey high schoolers or recent graduates are among the New Jersey Leadership program’s class of 2019 Summer Fellowship Program. According to NJLP, the group of “extraordinary young leaders” will learn about government and politics, and about making a difference in their communities. This year’s NJLP Fellows are Yajur Sriraman of Watchung, Ashana Makhija of Bridgewater, Sean Devasahayam of Edison, Tulip Sengupta and Esha Peer of South Brunswick, Sheaa Amin of Iselin, Moha Trivedi of Warren and Ojas Chitnis of Parlin.
The NJLP describes itself as a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting South Asian American youth participation and education at the local level of the state government, offering South Asian youth the ability to engage in and learn about local government through a summer internship in the local mayoral office or city agency.
Sriram, who is placed as the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, recently graduated from
Delbarton School in Morristown. He will begin his freshman year of college at Duke University this fall, where he plans on studying public policy and global health. He was the editor-in-chief of his school’s newspaper, The Delbarton Courier, and is also a service coordinator for Morristown Neighborhood House, an after school care and tutoring center for underprivileged children. Additionally, he is an NJ State Associate for Unleashed, a non-profit organization that conducts evidence-based workshops about implicit bias discrimination for middle and high school students. An avid musician, Sriram is the principal French horn for the Juilliard School’s PreCollege Division, and sings in the Juilliard PreCollege Choir, and is a leading member of his high school’s music program.
Makhija, who is interning at the offices of Congressman Tom Malinowski and Assemblyman Erik Peterson is a rising senior at The Pingry School. She is active in the Student Diversity Leadership Committee, the all female acapella group, Model UN, the tennis and track and field teams and the independent research teams studying the 3D movement of algae. She holds leadership positions as South Asian Affinity Leader and leader of her Independent Research Team. In 2016, she founded a social skills program for children with autism called Care for a Friend, and is currently the executive director.
Devasahayam, who is gaining experience at the office of Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., is a rising senior at John P. Stevens High School. He is active in his school chapter of JSA, working for the Edison Young Democrats and the main Edison Democratic Party, and volunteering at the Hands of Hope Food Bank.
Sengupta, a rising senior at the South Brunswick High School is placed at the office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. She is active in the Junior State of America, Model United Nations, Amnesty International, and her local First Aid Squad. She holds leadership positions in the regional cabinet of the Junior State of America and on her class council.
Placed at the office of State Senator Vin Gopal is Amin, a rising senior at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School. She is an active member of the Show Choir, School Play, National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, and Academic Team. She is the Vice-President of both the Women’s Choir and Key Club, and is a section leader in the Marching Band.
Chitnis is a rising junior at Sayreville War Memorial High School and is places at the office of Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak. He is active in his local Leo Club, his high school’s FBLA and Model UN chapters, and his high school’s Odyssey of the Mind, Tennis, Yearbook, Science Olympiad, and Math Olympiad teams. He serves as the president of his Leo Club, president of his Model UN chapter, and as a sophomore executive for his FBLA chapter, among other leadership and community roles. He has been honored to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Gold Level), the Melvin Jones Fellowship, and OMER’s Award.
Places at Assemblyman Daniel Benson's office is Peer, a rising junior at South Brunswick High School. She is active in the South Brunswick Asian Cultural Club, the South Brunswick Viking Marching Band, her school newspaper, the Viking Vibe, and school band. She is also the president of her class, creating fundraisers and leading events for school.
Working with Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin is Trivedi, a rising sophomore at Watchung Hills Regional High School. She is active in her school’s chapters of Model United Nations and Future Business Leaders of America; outside of school, she competes in Congressional Debate, is a member of the Somerset County Youth Leadership Program, and volunteers at Overlook Medical Center. Furthermore, she acts as a lawyer for her school’s varsity mock trial team and writes for her school’s newspaper.