Student Staff

The Rose Institute stresses a high level of interaction between student Research Assistants, faculty, and staff. In student’s research in areas relating to state and local government, students and faculty work side by side. Students receive guidance and instruction from professors, fellows, and research associates experienced in the operations of both the public and private sectors. While every student has experience working with faculty members and senior staff on an individual basis, the Rose Institute student staff is overseen by senior student managers.


Sophia S. Helland ’20
Student Manager 2019-2020

Sophia is from Claremont, California, and is majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) with a dual major in economics and a sequence in public policy analysis. At the Rose, Sophia has researched California tribal courts, county election officials, time served in local jails, and campaign finance. On campus, she serves as a research assistant for the Policy Lab and is involved with the Roosevelt Institute at the 5Cs. Sophia has worked for her state assemblyman and on worked on several campaigns, including the 2018 gubernatorial election for California and a local city council campaign. In her spare time, she loves dancing, listening to podcasts on just about anything, and re-watching Parks and Recreation.

Rachel S. Alaynick ’20
Associate Student Manager 2019-2020

Rachel is from Los Angeles majoring in Government. She has helped write state laws regarding education policy, developed her own technology, worked closely with various nonprofits, and watched all nine seasons of The Office… three times through! After growing up watching The Colbert Report and The Daily Show — a wise parenting move — she became interested in the role of government. She looks forward to honing her research skills and gaining a comprehensive understanding of state and local government at the Rose. In her free time, you can find her enjoying a good book/movie, hiking, attempting to earn her skydiving license, watching stand-up comedy, or going for a 4th run through of The Office.



Zenaida M. Huerta ’20

Zenaida is from Whittier, California who is pursuing a dual major in Government and Media Studies. In high school, she was an intern for California State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon and, since August 2015, worked as a student organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign. At 17-years old, she was elected as the youngest delegate from California to the Democratic National Convention for Bernie Sanders. In her free time, she enjoys reading about art history, watching Game of Thrones, and drinking anything caffeinated at the Motley.


Joseph G. Noss ’20

Joe is from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Joe is interested in studying anything related to political science, pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). While in high school, Joe was extremely involved in Model United Nations, traveling with his team internationally. In his free time, Joe is a member of the CMC Model UN team and the coffee club. Otherwise, Joe can be found drinking coffee, reading the news, and making films. Joe hopes to bring his Canadian frame of reference and amiability to the Rose, while also absorbing knowledge about the workings of American state and local government.


Nicholas Sage ’20

Nick is from Seattle, Washington, and is majoring in History and Government at Claremont McKenna. Nick has worked as a curator for the civic startup ActiveGiver, which is working on a crowd-funding style campaign finance platform. He researched many issues on the local, state, and federal level and had the opportunity to represent the company in front of local and state politicians from across the country at the 2016 National Convention of State Legislators in Chicago. In the summer of 2017, he was awarded CMC’s Appel Fellowship and drove 9,500 miles around the United States writing about American history and politics. On Campus, Nick is also involved with the Claremont Radius – a student-run political newspaper.

Zane G. Tolchinsky ’20

Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, Zane is a second-year student at Claremont McKenna and is pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). Zane found his passion for politics through his schoolwork and experience in community organizing, including within the mentally-impaired community. Zane hopes to expand his own knowledge of politics and make information more accessible to the public through working with the Rose Institute, specifically in relation to education, institutionalized recidivism, and election reform. Outside of the Rose Institute, Zane is the Vice President of Recruitment and Communications of the Claremont McKenna Mock Trial Team as well as a member of the Boxing Club. In his free time, Zane enjoys cooking, reading, and drinking coffee.

Melanie L. Wolfe ’20

Melanie, who was born and raised in South Florida, is majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). Melanie found her passion for politics while field organizing with the Florida Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election. At the Rose, Melanie enjoys researching a broad range of topics from campaign finance to standardized testing reform. On campus, Melanie keeps busy with the Free Food (for Thought) podcast, student government, and the new CMC Roosevelt Institute chapter. Still, she always makes time to keep up with her personal podcast queue and bake in Janie’s Kitchen.


Elena I. Castellanos ’21

Elena’s past involvement in Cal YMCA’s Youth and Government program inspired her pursuit of a Government major that led her to Claremont McKenna College.  She was raised in Hawthorne, California where she participated in efforts to improve her community.  Elena volunteered at the local hospital, led voter registration drives, and worked at her neighborhood public library.  On campus, you can find Elena listening to political podcasts, re-watching West Wing episodes, or on Yelp in the search of great food. Through her work at the Rose Institute, she hopes to contribute to efforts that will impact local and state government.


Sevion D.J. DaCosta ’21

Sevion is from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sevion is currently a Government major but is interested in political science and is hoping to major in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, Economics). In high school, Sevion was Head Steward, Varsity football Captain, co-head of the Black History Club and Founder of the Mock Trial Club. Sevion also volunteered through the African Canadian Christian Network (ACCN) providing interview tips to students who aspire to attend private schools in Ontario. At CMC, Sevion plays Inside Linebacker for the CMS football team, is a member of Mock Trial, CMS Christian Athletes, Black Students Association and ASCMC. This past summer Sevion ran recruitment for a startup company – Hubdoc – based in Toronto. Outside of school and the Rose, Sevion loves to spend time with his family, read and meet new people.

  William P. Frankel ’21

Will is from Cleveland, Ohio majoring in Government. He spent this past summer in Washington, DC as a Lloyd Meeds Policy Fellow and Government Affairs Intern at K&L Gates, LLP. His Rose experience includes work on SB-562, Proposition 64, and managing the Video Voter series in 2018. Outside the Rose, Will is an analyst for the Claremont Consulting Group, the Content Manager of the Free Food (for Thought) podcast, and an executive board member of the Claremont Government Society.


Jacob S. Leischner ’21

Jake is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, pursuing a dual major in Government and International Relations. Jake discovered his interest in politics from his involvement in high school Speech & Debate but tailored his interest to local politics through his internship on an Albuquerque mayoral campaign. He is especially interested in criminal justice and education reform. Jake is also involved in CMC’s Model UN and debate teams. When he’s not working at the Rose, Jake is napping, listening to Serial, or binge-watching Survivor.


Johnson Lin ’21

Johnson is from Portland, Oregon and is looking to major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). In high school, Johnson served as the Student Body President and worked as a Victims Advocate at the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, inspiring his interest in government. Outside of the Rose, Johnson is involved in ASCMC and the CMC Mock Trial team. He also works as a server at the Athenaeum. In his free time, you can find Johnson shooting hoops at Roberts Pavilion, enjoying the cookies at Collins, and playing random pop songs on all the pianos on campus.


Benjamin J. McAnally ’21

Ben is from Ashland, Oregon and hopes to major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He became interested in state and local government through coordinating a mentoring program to promote educational equality at a local charter school, Kids Unlimited Academy, and through teaching a U.S. citizenship class in high school. At the Rose, Ben hopes to pursue research in education and immigration policy. In his free time, he enjoys creative writing, mock trial, and ballroom dance.


Naseem Nazari ’21

Hailing from Claremont, California, Naseem Nazari traveled long and far to work at the Rose Institute. Naseem’s interest in state and local government piqued as she listened to NPR on long car rides with her sister, and realized the power that politics/ politicians bestow in enacting lasting and purposeful change. Serving on the board of a local non-profit dedicated to education in high school, she is especially passionate about educational equality and is hoping to do research pertaining to this field while working at the Rose. As of now, her major is undeclared. However, she is deeply interested in Middle East Studies, Government, and Public Policy. During her free time, you can catch Naseem working out at Roberts Pavilion, eating sour candy, or playing with her incredibly adorable puppy, Joon.

Nandeeni K. Patel ’21

Nandeeni Patel is from Murrieta, California and is planning on dual majoring in Government and History. Throughout high school, all of her experiences have pulled her towards a path founded in policy reform and public service. Specifically, having been the State President of the California Association of Student Councils and President of the Murrieta Youth Advisory Committee, Nandeeni found an interest in research-based advocacy catered to state and local education policy. She is looking forward to learning from the Rose Institute and getting a deeper understanding of the works of federalism. In her free time, you can catch her drinking V8 Spicy Hot, watching reality TV, or seriously struggling in the back of the only studio at Hot Yoga Claremont.


KAtherine AdelmanKatherine P. Adelman ’21

Katherine is from San Antonio, Texas, studying Government and Economics with a Public Policy Sequence. On campus, she is involved in Claremont Women in Business and CMC Survivor, which one can find airing on YouTube this fall. From a young age, Katherine has been invested in the local politics of her hometown, attending meetings with many civic leaders to gain perspective on the inner workings of local politics. Her goals for this semester are to win CMC Survivor, finish re-watching the West Wing, and learn everything about California politics she can.


David Almaraz-Roman ’22

David hails from Whittier, California, and he intends to major in Government. In high school, David pursued his love for government by interning for Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon. At the Rose, David hopes to research education policy and fiscal analysis. His passion for education has been shaped by his time teaching code to elementary students, mentoring at-risk high school students, and organizing ‘Operation College’ to support underrepresented minorities through college applications. At CMC, David enjoys early morning workouts at Roberts and the warm cookies at Collins.


Calder B. Altman ’22

Calder is from New Orleans, Louisiana, and is planning on majoring in history and government. He is interested in state and local government because he views government as a force for good. He is specifically interested in environmental and gun policy and the issues and history surrounding race. Calder is also a member of the CMC’s Model United Nations team, plays with the Claremont Colleges’ frisbee team, and is a cook in the Athenaeum kitchen. In his free time, he enjoys playing ping pong, board games, and baking.


Maria J. Gastelum Vera ’22

Maria is first-generation American from Whittier, California hoping to study Government and Public Policy. Her interest in law and politics stem from the two summers she spent as a legal intern, as well as from the campaigns she’s had the pleasure of working on in her hometown. Maria looks forward to pursuing research in the fields of immigration, criminal policy, and voter engagement, with the hopes of making politics more accessible to all in her community. In her free time, you can find her listening to political podcasts, reading anything by Sandra Cisneros, or re-watching episodes of The West Wing.


Maya Ghosh ’22

Maya hails from Dallas, Texas, and is hoping to major in Environment, Economics, and Politics. She developed a passion for politics due to her intense love for reading the Economist and listening to the podcast Deep State Radio. In high school, she pursued this passion by leading her school’s Political Action Club and environmental group, and by interning for Colin Allred’s congressional campaign. At CMC she also works for the Roberts Environmental Center, Mock Trial, The Forum and the Athenaeum’s kitchen staff. In her spare time she enjoys running, backpacking, road-tripping and watching football.


Anna E. Green ’21

Anna is a sophomore from Fairfield, CT pursuing a major in Government. After working for local, state, and federal governmental offices, she is excited to be joining the Rose Institute as a Research Assistant. On campus, Anna also works as a tour guide in the Office of Admission and as an interviewer for the Free Food (for Thought) podcast. In her free time, Anna loves exploring Southern California, binge-watching political dramas on Netflix, searching for new coffee shops, and spending time with friends.


Nandini Jayaram ’22

Nandini is from Bettendorf, Iowa and is majoring in Economics with a Financial Economics Sequence. In high school, Nandini was an active member of the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council (SIYAC), where she and 23 members across the state drafted and pursued bills through Iowa state legislature. Nandini also interned for U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack, which sparked her interest in learning more about local campaigns. She hopes to hone her research skills and better understand state and local government in California at the Rose. In her free time, you can find Nandini singing, doing hot yoga, or watching a new TV show.


Gait W. Nairn ’22

Gait is from the central valley of Northern California. As a high school student, Gait garnered an interest in politics through his debate and mock trial teams. Participating in American Legion Boys State allowed Gait to explore the opportunities and complexities of state and local government on a hands-on level. At the Rose Institute, Gait hopes to acquire valuable skills in policy research, specifically looking at the dichotomy between the vast interests of California. On campus, Gait is an Army ROTC cadet, and is an attorney on the mock trial team. In his free time, Gait plays Spikeball, spends far too much time watching Suits, and enjoys hanging out with friends.


Robin M. Peterson ’22

Robin is from Boulder, Colorado, majoring in Government. In high school, she worked on registering her peers to vote and working with local legislators on laws surrounding voting rights for ex-felons. At the Rose, Robin hopes to pursue research on policy related to gun control or sustainability. Outside of the Rose, she enjoys annotating her pocket Constitution, pole vaulting, and re-watching Madam Secretary. If she’s not struggling with Introductory Arabic, she’s either serving in uniform as an ROTC Cadet or trying to catch up on sleep.


Adhitya Venkatraman ’22

Adhitya is from San Jose, California and plans to major in Economics and Government. Adhitya gained an interest in politics from a healthy combination of the Daily Show and high school speech and debate. He previously served as a policy aide for his home in District 8 of San Jose and interned at East Palo Alto Community Legal Services, helping to expunge criminal records. These experiences helped Adhitya narrow his interest in public policy to affordable housing and criminal rehabilitation. Outside of the Rose Institute, Adhitya is an avid baker, amateur magician, and beanie enthusiast.


Phillip D. Williams ’22

Felipe is an Inland Empire native from Fontana, California planning on majoring in Government. As a first-year student, he is very excited to be joining the Rose Institute team. Passionate about politics and local governance, Phillip served as the co-chairman of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council for his hometown and was involved in efforts to increase teenage engagement with civic affairs. On campus, he is an ROTC cadet, serves as an ASCMC senator, and is a member of the Model UN team. In his free time, Phillip enjoys hiking, reading, obsessively binge watching The West Wing, consuming copious amounts of In-n-Out hamburgers, and spending time with friends and family.