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INTERNS & FELLOWS, Summer 2021

Julia Buckner, Fellow // Julia Buckner is a sophomore at Wellesley College. She plans to major in International Relations and attend law school upon graduation. She has taught math and science for three years through Breakthrough Miami as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Julia is an accomplished rower and is a member of the Wellesley crew team and is an assistant crew coach at the Ransom Everglades School. She speaks English, French, Spanish, and German.

Xiaoduo Chen, Senior Educational Fellow // From northern New Jersey, Xiaoduo Chen is currently a junior at Amherst College majoring in Political Science.  She is considering law school in her future, she is hoping to use the next few years to further explore her various passions. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, watching bad movies with friends, and learning how to cook.  She has thoroughly enjoyed spending this summer tutoring young and energetic children at FORA and exploring Chicago.  

Helen Harrington, Family Engagement Fellow // Helen Harrington is finishing her History and German degree at Amherst College, and is grateful to connect with students and families this summer at FORA. Originally from Milwaukee, Helen’s excited to be back in the Midwest and to get to know the West Ridge neighborhood. She loves learning dance moves from students! Working at FORA brightens her ideas of community, equity, and learning, which she hopes to build on in future work.

Fareeha Irfan, Senior Administrative and Educational Fellow // Fareeha Irfan is a senior at Loyola University Chicago. She is currently studying Biology and wants to pursue a career in medicine.  She is passionate about teaching and her passion led her to FORA. Here she likes working with kindergarten students and helping older kids with their reading. In her free time, she likes to bake cakes and play badminton. 

Javeria Irfan, Senior Administrative and Educational Fellow // Javeria Irfan is a Master’s student at Loyola University Chicago.  She is studying Sociology and always wanted to work with children whose English is not their first language.  She likes to paint, bake and draw in her free time.  She loved to hear about children’s lives and how much they enjoyed being here.  Fora is a great opportunity to work with children in an educational program.  She hopes to do similar work in future.  

Meghan Jo, Intern // Meghan Jo is a freshman at Conard High School in Connecticut. They are a tutor at FORA and have been there for two years. They enjoy swimming and recently received a top 16 award for having one of the top 16 swimming times in the state. Meghan spends the limited free time that they get listening to music and studying Chinese. Meghan enjoys working with young children and hopes to work with them more in the future.

Abdullah Khan, Intern // From Chicago, Abdullah Khan is currently a senior at Chicago Math and Science Academy. Abdullah loves to work and read/talk with people of all ages. In his free time, Abdullah loves to go bike riding around the neighborhood and loves to take long walks and just feel the nature around him. In future, Abdullah hopes to work with Apple as a software developer and hopes to gain a lot of skills for networking from Fora. Abdullah's moto is " enjoy the journey while it lasts because you only live once." Volunteering at Fora has been the best thing for Abdullah because it gave him an opportunity to find his potential career while being with the kids. He hopes to continue reading with kids every summer at Fora and to see them grow!!

Ahmed Manzoor, Fellow // Ahmed Manzoor is a rising junior at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Public Health. In the future, he hopes to attend medical school and eventually get involved in orthopaedics. Ahmed first started working with children as a Sunday school teacher at his local mosque, where he taught a class for three years. He also works with marginalized communities in Baltimore in efforts of addressing their social determinants of health, and these experiences pushed him to get involved with FORA and the refugee communities that it serves. When not studying or doing work, Ahmed enjoys going to lift at the gym and playing pickup basketball at local parks.

Lekshmi Nair, Tutoring Mentor // Lekshmi Nair is a senior at Loyola University Chicago studying Biology and aspiring to become a physician. Lekshmi’s interest for tutoring in reading started when she began working as an ESL tutor for older refugee women at Madonna Mission. Lekshmi enjoys listening to the children at FORA read with so much enthusiasm and dramatics - it makes her day!

Pooja Rai, Administrative Fellow // Pooja is a senior at Loyola University Chicago studying Psychology and Criminal justice, and minoring in Urban Research. Pooja has a passion for service work and goals for working on legislation / public policy in the future to aid communities that are disproportionately targeted and marginalized. In her free time, Pooja loves to spend time with her friends, explore Chicago, try new restaurants, craft and go on walks. FORA has been an unique experience for Pooja in learning how a non-profit operates and how to curate a learning space for refugees.  

Rida Rashid, Senior Social Work and SEL Coordinator // Rida Rashid (she/her) was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago by Pakistani immigrants. She is passionate about de-stigmatizing mental illness and advocating for mental health services in under-resourced communities. Rida recently graduated with her Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis with a focus on mental health within immigrant and refugee communities. She is so excited to be supporting FORA with their trauma-informed SEL approach and engaging with the amazing kids FORA supports. Rida also loves fostering dogs, reading mystery books, and practicing yoga.

Ahmed Sharfi, Tutoring Mentor // Ahmed Sharfi is a Junior at Northwestern University majoring in Biology and minoring in  Global Health. Since tutoring young Muslim Sudanese children at the Al-Dar Sudanese Community Center in Chicago, Ahmed has had a strong passion when it comes to mentoring and tutoring others. Ahmed loves being around people and hanging out with friends. He loves skateboarding, playing basketball, and is currently trying to learn how to play the guitar.   

Rebecca Skedros, Senior Educational Fellow // Rebecca Skedros is a senior at Loyola University Chicago studying Human Services while minoring in Psychology and Dance. Rebecca has a strong passion for service and hopes to continue pursuing this passion as a career once she graduates. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys hanging out with friends and family and exploring the great city of Chicago. Fora has been such a joyful experience for Rebecca as every kid she encounters has such a vibrant personality, and they are all so eager to learn.    

Shoaib Syed, Mentoring and Research Development Fellow // Shoaib Syed is currently a senior at Northwestern University studying Neuroscience with a dream of becoming a pediatrician or child neurologist. He has been tutoring young kids since he was in high school, because education gave him hope despite his family’s financial situation. In his free time, he loves trying new recipes and exploring new cuisines. When he isn’t doing that, you can find him on the basketball court or trying to find the most aesthetic photoshoot locations in Chicago.

Adam Syvertsen, Senior Research and Development Fellow // Adam Syvertsen is a PhD candidate in English at Northwestern University. His dissertation project examines the radical politics of utopian literature in the Atlantic world before the American Civil War. Adam came to FORA through Northwestern’s Chicago Humanities Initiative (CHI)-- a program that enables graduate students in the humanities to explore public-facing scholarship. When he’s not at FORA or in the library, you can find him training for Strongman competitions. 

Fereshteh Zakeri, Senior Educational Fellow  // Fereshteh Zakeri is a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Liberal Art and Science. After finishing her undergraduate school, she hopes to get into a medical school. She was always curious about her surroundings which led her to be interested in biology. In her free time, she would love to hike, bike and walk into nature and go camping with her family and friends. She is a global citizen and has lived in three different countries and knows 4 languages. 

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