The Honors Diversity Council works to encourage and empower underrepresented students to become leaders, uplift student voices, create inclusive programming and act as an accountability partner for UIHP's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives. Joining the council is an opportunity to advocate for DEI initiatives, build a culture of belonging at the UIHP, and become a leader in the honors community. If you'd like more information on how to get involved, email our team at honors-program@uiowa.edu.

Meet our members, below!


Bhavya Vats

Bhavya Vats

she/her/hers 

Graduation year: 2023

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hi all! My name is Bhavya Vats, and I am from New Delhi, India. As a part of the DEI council, I serve as the social committee chair, helping to host events that bring the honor community together and promote discussions around pressing DEI issues. I also work as an undergraduate research fellow in Dr. Ankrum’s lab and a teaching assistant in the College of Engineering. In addition to the Honors DEI Council, I am a part of Tau Beta Pi, International Student Ambassadors, Society of Women Engineers, and the South Asian Student Alliance. I also enjoy cooking for myself (occasionally), calling family, working out, watching k-dramas, and napping.  

 

 

 

 


Bhoomika Shettigar

Bhoomika Shettigar

she/her/hers 

Graduation Year: 2026

Major: Neuroscience

Hi, I’m Bhoomika! I really like keeping myself involved in student and community life by joining student orgs such as the South Asian Student Alliance (SASA) and Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS). I’m so excited to see what changes we can make as a collective Honors DEI Committee. Specifically, I’m part of the external committee and I’m looking forward to making an impact through community outreach! I love to read, lie down on the floor, bake, crochet, and people-watch.  

 

 

 

 


Rabiah

Rabiah Na'Allah 

she/her/hers 

Hi there! My name is Rabiah Na'Allah and I am a third-year student at the University of Iowa from Peoria, Illinois studying Art and Cinema. Along with my involvement on the Honors DEI Council, I am an Honors Outreach Ambassador, and Art Editor for earthwords: undergraduate literary magazine, the Graphic Designer for African Student Association and a member of Black Student Union. One of my favorite things about being a Hawkeye is going to sports games with my friends! When I'm not working on school, you can find me doing photography, analyzing my favorite movies, or binge-watching Criminal Minds.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Klaertje

Klaertje Hesselink

she/her/hers 

Graduation year: 2026

Major: Chemical Engineering

Hi, my name is Klaertje! I am currently a freshman studying chemical engineering and possibly doing a double major in international politics. I am so excited to be on the Honors DEI council! 

I am currently a part of the Iowa Campus symphony and SWE (Society of Women Engineers)! In my free time I love to study up on bacteria and fermentation as well as take pictures with my film camera.  

 

 

 

 


Jennie

Jennie Seo 

she/her/hers  

Graduation year: 2026

Major: Biology

Hi, my name is Jennie! I’m a first-year on the pre-dentistry track and a part of the external committee of the DEI council as well as a member of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS). I’m so excited to connect with the community around us and see what we’ll be able to change and achieve this year! Outside of academics, I enjoy volunteering at the local Korean Language and Culture School, tutoring younger students, and taking excessively long naps.  

 

 

 


jimmy

Jimmy Yang

he/him/his 

Graduation year: 2024

Major: Interdepartmental Studies / Pre-Med

Hey y’all! My name is Jimmy, and I’m stoked to be serving on the Internal Committee of the UI Honors DEI Committee! I am passionate about outreach work, fostering community among people from different walks of life, and mentoring disadvantaged high students in the college application and admissions process via a non-profit. Beyond Honors DEI, I am a member of the 1stGen@Iowa Student Advisory Board, a SHPEP ambassador, one of the three Co-Chairs for the 2023 UI Pre-Health Conference, and work as a peer advisor at the Financial Aid Office. In my spare time, I enjoy watching and playing basketball, working out, reading all things science and history, learning new languages, cooking, and spending time with friends and family. Feel free to reach out to me at jimmy-yang@uiowa.edu.


 

 

Xiangheng

Xiangheng Li  

he/him/his 

Graduation Year: 2024

Major: Psychology and Economics 

Hi everyone, my name is Xiangheng and I'm a third-year Asian American first-generation student! As the chair of the external committee, I commit to being an advocate for underrepresented students through cooperations with the honors program and campus partners. Aside from the council, I serve as a resident assistant and research assistant. In my "free" time, I enjoy cooking, exploring, traveling, and appreciating impressionist paintings.  

 

 

 

 


 

 

Kaci

Kaci Abildtrup 

she/her/hers  

My name is Kaci Abildtrup, and I am a second-year transfer student! I was previously at Southwestern Community College where I played volleyball. I am a pre-health biology student! If I am not working with the DEI Committee, I am volunteering at the University hospital on 6RC, guiding the American Cancer Society as Secretary, helping out the Pre-Health Conference Planning Committee, and working at Mercy in the emergency department!  

I love it here at Iowa and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the Honors DEI Program. I plan on contributing to the group with my background and strong feelings for equality and helping others live better lives. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Koro

Koro Castillo 

she/her/hers  

Graduation Year: 2021 

Koro is a first-year student pursuing majors in Spanish and Philosophy and a certificate in Latin American Studies. She is passionate about learning new things, supporting her peers, and exploring global and multicultural educational opportunities. In her free time, Koro enjoys music, dance, and spending time with her friends.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


kyra

Kyra Lester 

she/her/hers  

Graduation Year: 2026

Major: Analytics & Information Systems and Finance

Hi everyone! My name is Kyra Lester, and I am a freshman double majoring in Business Analytics and Finance, minoring in Spanish, and pursuing the International Business Certificate. I am from a super small town in Iowa called Colfax, but I was born in Wuwei City, China and adopted when I was one. As a first-generation student, I am passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion as it relates to all minority groups. On campus, I am involved in the Multicultural Business Students Association, InvestHer, Vietnamese Student Association, BizEdge, Tippie Buddies, and Women in Business alongside interning at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. Outside of school, I love to weightlift, read, bake, travel, and listen to podcasts, 80s music, and K-pop.

  


madison

Madison Bruce 

she/her/hers  

Madison is a second-year student from Red Oak, Iowa. She is studying Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality studies with a certificate in resilience and trauma-informed perspectives. She has plans to go to law school after graduating and wants to focus on gender justice in her future career. Outside of academics, Madison enjoys music, writing, and crosswords. 

  

 

 

 

 

 


Puja Mekala

Puja Mekela 

she/her/hers  

Graduation Year: 2025

Major: Analytics & Information Systems and Finance

Hi everyone! My name is Puja and I am a sophomore studying Psychology with a minor in Gender, Health, and Healthcare Equity on the pre-dental track. My hometown is West Des Moines, Iowa and I went to Waukee High School. On campus I am a part of the Indian Student Alliance, UIHC Volunteering, Partners in Health Engage, the Pre-Dental Club, and Active Minds. To me, Honors DEI is an amazing space that allows me to collaborate and share my ideas and thoughts and I love being able to mingle with a group who is interested in similar efforts as me. Outside school, I love to hike, exercise, draw, and travel.

  

 

 


Rhett

Rhett Ellerbroek

he/him/his

Graduation Year: 2026

Rhett Ellerbroek is a freshman majoring in Biochemistry on the premed track interested in Geriatrics. He is involved in the Citizens' Climate Lobby, State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council, and the Academic Advising Center Student Advisory Board.  

 

 

 

 

  


Sanya

Sanya Sami 

she/her/hers  

Graduation Year: 2023

Major: Human Physiology

Hi everyone, my name is Sanya Sami and I’m a fourth-year undergraduate studying Human Physiology and obtaining a Leadership Studies Certificate. I’m excited to be on the Internal Committee for Honors DEI council! On campus, I’m the President for the Health and Human Physiology Student Organization, the Campus Events & Activities Chair for STAR (Students to Assist Recruitment), a research assistant, a hospital volunteer at the UIHC, and am also a member of the Social Squad Club within the Honors Program. Outside of studying for my classes, I love to read, do kickboxing workouts, go on hikes, watch sunsets, and spend time with close ones!  

 

  


Sara

 

Sara Feiz 

she/her/hers  

Major: Biochemistry

Hello all! I’m Sara and I’m a second-year biochemistry student! I am super excited to be on the council this year! I am very passionate about DEI and making a difference on campus. Outside of the council I am involved in a wide variety of organizations, including one in which I have been the DEI chair for two semesters now. In my free time I really enjoy rewatching shows I’ve already watched and reading books.  

 

 

 

  


Sehansa

Sehansa Karunatilaka

she/her/hers  

Graduation Year: 2025

Major: Human Physiology 

Hi! I am a sophomore majoring in Human Physiology (BS) from Clive, Iowa. One of the main reasons that led me to be a part of the UIHP DEI council is my involvement in various activities and leadership roles in high school and college, which made me aware of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  On the DEI honors council, I am eager to collaborate with projects to embrace differences in the honors community and to attract and retain a diverse group of students in the program where everyone is respected. Apart from being a member of the DEI council, I am currently volunteering at the mother & baby unit and the mobile clinic, and working part-time as a student anesthesia technician at the University of Iowa hospitals and clinics. I love to be in the gym, play music or try new recipes whenever I want to take my mind off from work. 

 


Shefaa

Shefa'a Tawil 

she/her/hers  

Shefa’a is a second year student pursuing a Psychology major (BS) on a pre-medicine track along with a certificate in Public Health and Writing with an Arabic minor.  Shefa’a is currently involved in Hawkeye Taekwondo, Sunset Club, a part of the DEI Internal Committee [of the Honors Program], along with Gardening Club, MSA and numerous other clubs.  Shefa’a finds pleasure in the outdoors, in time spent reflecting and being around family (for short amounts of time, that is). 

 

 

 

  

 


Tina

Tina Liu

she/her/hers  

 

Graduation Year: 2025 

Major: Chemistry 

Hi, I’m Tina and I am a sophomore here at the University of Iowa. I love to be outdoors whether it be hiking in the mountains or relaxing on the beach. I also love listening to podcasts and learning about cool things outside of my coursework. The Honors DEI Council is a great place for collaboration and support. I’m excited to be a part of the initiatives we start and all the new events we will host! 

 

 

 

  


william

William Chinchankar

he/him/his  

 

William is a third year student majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Italian. Outside of class, he is an undergraduate research assistant in a cardiology lab and works as a nursing assistant in a Medical Surgical Services unit at the UIHC. William also regularly volunteers with UI Mobile Clinic, which aims to provide healthcare to underserved communities in the area.  Walking around campus, you may find him speeding down the sidewalk on his unicycle, which he enjoys taking on long rides around Iowa City. He may also be ambushing his friends with a solo ukulele concert, or playing tennis with the university club team.  

William hopes to use his experiences as a biracial student through his position of Internal Committee Vice chair to help design a more inclusive campus community for all.  

 

  


Yunseo

Yunseo Ki

she/her/hers  

 

Graduation Year: 2024 

Major(s): Political Science and Ethics & Public Policy

My name is Yunseo and I am a junior on the pre-law track! I am proud to be serving on the HDEI committee as the vice-chair of the external committee. I look forward to collaborating with campus partners to promote DEI values and advocating for underrepresented student voices. I believe in active campus involvement and my commitments outside of the council include acting as the Manager for the Food Pantry at Iowa, a Peer Mentor for the Political Science Department, the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for the Korean Conversation Group, and a marketing team member for the Korean UIowa Student Association. In my free time, I enjoy good eats and long walks.