Aliya Bagewadi, Gates-Cambridge Scholar

After graduating from the University of Chicago with a honors degree in Political Science, Aliya Bagewadi spent two years in Myanmar and Thailand as a Princeton in Asia Fellow. While in Myanmar, she managed a multimillion dollar loan portfolio that provided financial services to thousands of rural farming families throughout the country. In Thailand, she taught Business Communications at Khon Kaen University, a research university in the northeast of Thailand. 

As a student at the University of Chicago, Aliya founded and directed RISE, the Road to Social Entrepreneurship, an international social entrepreneurship competition that raised over $10,000 for flood relief efforts in Pakistan. She also served as the Social Justice Coordinator at the University Community Service Center (UCSC), and created the Interfaith Action Council, a student group focused on building religious pluralism through student activism and community service. A recipient of the Human Rights Grant and Summer Links Internship, she spent two summers, one in South Africa and the other in Chicago, empowering young artists in crime-ridden areas to utilize their art for positive self-expression and conflict resolution. As a student, Aliya was also an Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) National Fellow, a member of the Maroon Key Society, and recipient of the Bridge Builder Student Leader Award. 

In 2015, she received the prestigious Gates-Cambridge Scholarship to undertake a rigorous graduate course at the University of Cambridge.  She crews for her college (St. John's) rowing team, has been deeply engaged in the Gates community and all that it has to offer, and started making short documentaries. Aliya's research focuses on the trade of agricultural biotechnologies and its implications for agrarian communities. Her thesis is titled: 'The Political Economy of Agricultural Biotechnologies: Creating Cooperation or Crossfires?'

Aliya offers advice for future Gates-Cambridge applicants: 'It's helpful to think about how Gates fits into your greater aspirations. It's worth it to ask yourself not just about what you have to offer the Gates Scholars community, but also what the opportunity has to offer you. Does it help you get to where you want to be and what you want to do? How? Also, it's easy to get nervous during the interview process (I certainly was), but it helps to remember that the people interviewing are human too, and many of them were in your shoes but a few years ago as well'.

College students interested in applying for post-gradaute study at Cambridge funded by the Gates-Cambridge Trust should contact Nichole Fazio, director of the College Center for Scholarly Advancement (CCSA), for application guidance and support. Appointments can be made by email: