Who We Are

Leadership Team

wwa-1Anish Kanoria ‘18 is a senior international student from India and an Economics and Political Science double major. Together with Prof. Maria Hoehn, he has founded Vassar Refugee Solidarity and is the student leader of the initiative. He also serves as the President of the Vassar Student Association. 



UntitledPatrick DeYoung ’18 is a senior Political Science major at Vassar. He is a Vassar Veterans Posse Scholar and the Chair of Organizations for the Vassar Student Association. Pat is the coordinator for the initiative’s refugee resettlement efforts, currently focusing on the Albany Community and School Fundraising Project.



Sophia Slater ’18 is a senior Political Science and French & Francophone Studies double major. She spent both semesters of her junior year abroad in Paris, where she studied at Sciences Po, wrote articles on refugee issues for Newsweek, and was the local coordinator for VRS language tutoring programs. For this year she is the head website coordinator of the VRS site.




Millie Cunningham ’18  is a senior Political Science major and co-leader of the Oral Histories project. She is also captain of the Women’s Rowing team and works in the office of Athletic Communications. Millie studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark last semester, with coursework focusing on the European migrant “crisis,” international refugee law, and the experiences of migrant children.


Mojan Farid ‘20 is a sophomore Geography major and works with the Resettlement and Local Engagement Team within Vassar Refugee Solidarity. She is a member of Vice music and plans to study abroad her junior year. She was born in Iran and can speak Farsi fluently.



Jonan Kiang ’21 is a prospective International Studies                major. He hopes to work in the international field to rectify            economic issues and have a hand in conflict resolution. He            serves as the local representative in the Rohingya Project.              Having spent a large amount of time in China, he speaks                Chinese and English fluently.



  Samira Afreen ’21 is a prospective Computer Science               major with a correlate in Mathematics. She is the                           international representative of the Rohingya Project. She             speaks Bangla, which is her first language.




Student Team

Local Resettlement Project

Reilly Hay ’18 is a senior Political Science major with a correlate in History. He is a part of the Local Resettlement and Engagement Team with Vassar Refugee Solidarity. He also is the captain of Vassar Ultimate Frisbee and continued his work with VRS on campus during his junior year.


Sasha Gopalakrishnan ’20 is a sophomore Sociology major with a possible correlate in Anthropology or Women’s Studies or both. She is a part of the Resettlement and Local Engagement Team within VRS. She is also Assistant Arts Editor for the Miscellany News as well as a member of South Asian Students Alliance (SASA) and VCTV Producers. She speaks English, Hindi and broken French, and is thinking about studying abroad in Sweden or Denmark next year.

Sabrina Surgil ’21 is a first-year from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, intending to pursue studies in History, French, and Creative Writing. She is a part of the VRS Resettlement and Local Engagement Team. In addition, she works as an assistant at the Vassar Observatory and is also a member of Britomartis, Vassar on Tap, and the Underground.

Oral Histories Project Event Coordination
Zoe Wulff ‘19 is a junior Media Studies major with a focus in Women’s Studies and Film. As part of VRS she is co-heading the oral history initiative. She believes strongly in the power of narrative to bring about change which is why she got involved with the group. She is also the business manager for Measure 4 Measure, one of the Acappella groups on campus and works at Vassar’s Infant Toddler Center.

Caroline Ingram ’19
is a junior History major at Vassar with correlates in Hispanic Studies and Economics. In her role with VRS, she will primarily be working with the Oral Histories team, collecting recordings of refugee narratives locally in the Hudson Valley. She is also a Research Assistant in the History Department, as well as a CARES Listener, and will be spending the upcoming spring semester studying abroad in Madrid.

William Zemp ‘20 is a sophomore prospective Independent Major, and Arabic or Hispanic Studies Correlate. He is part of the Oral Histories Team and will be doing work with the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement and Education, which he did research for during the summer of 2017. He works at Matthew’s Bean, the coffee shop located in the library.


Emma Mertens ’19 is a junior Philosophy major and hopes to declare a Hispanic Studies major/correlate soon! She is a member of the oral histories team for VRS. Outside of VRS, she is also a member of Vassar College Majors Choir and a VELLOP tutor at Poughkeepsie High School. She is currently studying abroad for the fall of 2017 with the Vassar-Wesleyan Madrid program. She speaks Spanish conversationally and hopes to improve it while she is in Spain.

Event Coordination
Joan Krickellas ’19 is a junior Environmental Studies major with concentrations in Biology and Sociology. She is the Vice President of Prohealth, a student organization that works to raise awareness for local and global public health issues. Joan is also involved in Vassar’s Exploring Science program, where she helps lead activities for local Poughkeepsie elementary students at the ecological preserve.  This past summer, she had an eye-opening experience as a volunteer at a refugee camp in Greece, working with UNHCR, Samaritan’s Purse, and Greek government officials. 

Website Coordination
Zoë Zahariadis ‘21
is a first-year prospective Political Science and French double major. She is working on design and media for the VRS website. She is also a member of Vassar Alliance for Women in Foreign Affairs, Vassar Voices for Planned Parenthood and works as a French research assistant.



Consortium on Forced Displacement, Migration and Education 

Matthew Brill-Carlat ’18 is a junior History major and  serves as VRS’s Student Consortium Coordinator. Matthew speaks Spanish, having spent the fall semester of his junior year in Cuba, is learning Arabic, and hopes to declare correlates in Hispanic Studies and Arabic.

Faculty Director

wwa-8Maria Höhn is the Marion Musser Lloyd ’32 Chair of History and International Studies. She is a German historian and scholar of the American military presence in Germany after WWII, with a special focus on the interaction between African American GIs and German society. Together with Anish Kanoria, she founded Vassar Refugee Solidarity to get the Vassar College community involved in findings ways to help with the unprecedented global movements of people and the resulting crises in states responses.

Ex-Officio Advisor

wwa-9Sam Speers is director of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life and assistant dean for Campus Life and Diversity. He is past president of the Association of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA). He recently completed an eight-year project as director of Secularity and the Liberal Arts, a Teagle Foundation working group of faculty and chaplains that asked what higher education leaders really mean when we call ourselves “secular.”  He is an ordained Presbyterian minister.
He advises Vassar Refugee Solidarity in the Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance.