Monica Matsumoto is a junior at Rice University majoring in Asian studies and minoring in biochemistry and cell biology. She spent June-December 2012 studying Arabic in Morocco and Jordan, and spent the 2009-10 academic year in Cairo, Egypt, through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program. Monica plans to attend medical school after graduating from Rice and would also like to engage in international public health and shaping health policy, focusing on developing partnerships between the United States and the Arab world. She is an intern for Kirstin Matthews, Ph.D., in the Baker Institute Science and Technology Policy Program, and also is conducting research at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Monica loves to play sports and is currently captaining the women’s Ultimate Frisbee club team and playing on the club soccer team at Rice. Monica was part of the 2012 PDGP delegation that traveled to Qatar, in which she led the conversation on “Democracy and Secularization.”
Walter "Hurst" Williamson
Walter “Hurst” Williamson is a sophomore at Rice University majoring in history and political science, with a focus on international relations. After graduating, he plans to pursue a career in diplomacy, and is particularly interested in evolving relationships between the United States and Africa. Hurst was born in Charlotte, N.C., and spent a number of years in Denver, Colo., before moving to Atlanta, Ga. He spent the past summer working on guest ranch in Wyoming, specializing in introducing children ages 5 to 12 to Western-style horseback riding. In addition to working with the PDGP program, Hurst is a member of the Rice Honor Council, the Rice Lacrosse Team and Spontaneous Combustion, Rice’s improvisational comedy troupe.
Zach Bielak is a sophomore at Rice University majoring in mechanical engineering and interested in environmental sustainability. He hopes to one day combine these two passions into a career of engineering sustainable solutions, through both conducting research and advancing practical applications for developing countries. Currently, Zach is helping investigate organic lithium ion batteries at Rice, and is also co-leading a team within Engineers Without Borders working to create a gravity-fed water distribution system for a rural community in El Salvador. Specifically concerning sustainability, Zach is very involved with numerous environmental groups around Rice, including Rice Endowment for Sustainable Energy Technology. Outside of these interests, he also sings in one of Rice’s a cappella groups and designs websites for various organizations.