The Washington Leadership Program recently announced its 2019 class, and the entire six-person class is comprised of Indian and South Asian American women.

Established in 1995, the WLP is a non-profit that seeks to develop the next generation of American leadership from the South Asian community. The scholars will be placed in congressional offices for an eight-week summer internship accompanied by a structured leadership curriculum.

The scholars include Aparna Iyer, Madhumitha Krishnan, Natasha Menon, Rupa Palanki, Aziz Sandhu and Fatima Shabhaz.

“We are excited to welcome the WLP Class of 2019, a group of incredibly talented and brilliant young South Asian women who are ready to create positive change for their communities,” the WLP wrote in a newsletter.

Iyer, who will serve her internship at the office of Indian American Congresswoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, is a rising sophomore at U.C. Berkeley studying political science and human rights.

After moving to the States from India in 2014, she became involved in campaign work for her local congressman and in volunteer opportunities with human rights charities in the Bay Area. On campus, she is involved with the pre-law community, an Indian fusion dance team and a nonpartisan discourse-based organization called the Berkeley Forum.

She is interested in education policy and international law and aims to find a career in that intersection, her bio notes.

Krishnan, who will intern at the Department of Commerce, is a rising junior at U.C. Berkeley. She plans on double majoring in political science and history, with a focus on Eastern Europe and the history of law.

According to her bio, she is passionate about working to strengthen democracy at home and abroad through working on voter rights and voter mobilization, immigration law reform, and strengthening accountability in democratic institutions.

In the future, she hopes attend graduate school and work with human rights organizations to help build sound judicial institutions in developing countries, it said.

Menon is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying philosophy, politics and economics with a minor in legal studies and history.

She is interested in addressing policy issues at the intersection of immigration and education. Menon hopes to pursue this goal as an aspiring lawyer and public servant.

She will intern with the Department of Homeland Security.

Palanki is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is a Ben Franklin Scholar and Wharton Public Policy Scholar studying economics and health policy.

She is passionate about promoting accessibility to healthcare for marginalized populations and is interested in working at the intersection of fiscal policy, medicine and law, it said.

She will spend her internship with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sandhu, who like Palanki will intern in the Department of Health and Human Services, is a recent graduate from the University of Connecticut where she majored in global health.

She is passionate about strengthening health systems and public service, while focusing on vulnerable populations. She hopes to work at the intersection between equitable governance, public health, and policymaking to enhance coordination and delivery of care in humanitarian settings and complex emergencies.

Sandhu plans to pursue a career in public service as a global health advocate and leader and will be pursuing a master's in science in public health at Johns Hopkins in the fall.

Shahbaz, who will intern at the office of Congressman Ami Bera, is a rising junior at Harvard College studying Government and South Asian Studies.

She was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but grew up in McLean, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., inspiring a passion for public service and foreign affairs, the bio notes.

On campus, she works as a Diversity Peer Educator, served as the academic-political chair of the Harvard South Asian Association, teaches a weekly civics class to fifth graders in Boston, as is on Secretariat for Harvard Model United Nations 2020, it said.

The organization was founded in August 2008 in memory of publisher and philanthropist Gopal Raju, who sponsored a program that placed over 170 students in congressional internships over 15 years. The organization was founded by alumni of Raju's program who seek to continue his legacy and continue this vital program for the community.

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