Déjà Lewis-Nwalipenja (CLA ‘20) is a Drew student from Philadelphia, PA majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. She is deeply passionate about the issues of young Black women concerning race, gender, class and the tensions between these identities. For Deja, being means having a deep connection with one's inner self and the world around them. It means understanding the true meaning of life and learning how each individual can make a difference.
YouTuber, Journalist, and Filmmaker
Janek Rubeš is a Czech reporter and filmmaker. Forbes magazine ranked him in 2016 as one of the top 30 most talented people in the Czech Republic below the age of 30. He studied at the Film School in Písek in 2008, and subsequently at the Tomas Bata University in Zlín from 2011 to 2014 with a degree in marketing. He worked on shows Prague vs. Crooks and Honest Guide going tens of millions of views globally on various platforms.
Professor and Activist
Laurel Kearns has worked on environmental issues her whole life as a result of growing up on Sanibel Island, Florida. This has led her to focus on how to get people to recognize their interconnectedness and interdependence with the natural world, an insight quite readily evident on a small island. Dr. Kearns is Professor of Ecology, Society and Religion at Drew Theological School, a part of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where she has taught sociology of religion, ecology, and social justice for 25 years. During this time, she has helped eco-justice to become rooted in the Drew Theological School curriculum and helped guide their extensive sustainability practices. Her research and activism are focused on religious involvement in ecological issues and movements, with a particular interest in environmental justice, climate change, and food. In addition to her teaching and research in religion and ecology, she co-founded and helps lead the Green Seminary Initiative.
Paola Mathé is a lover of red lipstick, adventure, bold headwraps, and all things colorful. Born in a small town in Haiti, Paola moved to the United States in her teenage years. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Economics and French Literature at Drew University. Driven by her artistic desires and thirst for adventure, Paola moved to New York City to live out her dreams. In her spare time, she shares those dreams, her colorful personality, and style on Finding Paola, her lifestyle blog. She is now based in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter and about thirty plant babies.
In 2014, Paola launched Fanm Djanm, a headwrap collection and lifestyle brand that celebrates the strength of women while also empowering them to live boldly. Her goal is to share her colors with the world while empowering and creating opportunities for women of color who dare to do the same. Being to her means living, learning, loving, growing, and always evolving.
Analytics Expert, Social Entrepreneur
Pelin Thorogood is a tech executive turned social entrepreneur who has made a career out of being at the forefront of emerging business trends and technologies. The potential for CBD-rich therapeutics to deliver significant health benefits has led Pelin to co-found Wholistic Research and Education Foundation, a public non-profit, dedicated to CBD research, education and advocacy, where she serves as President. Pelin believes combining a multi-disciplinary approach with cutting-edge medical technology offers the most comprehensive and systematic way to explore Cannabis efficacy for diverse conditions. With an unwavering focus on data and analytics throughout her career, previously Pelin was CEO of Anametrix, an award-winning multi-channel analytics platform and CMO of WebSideStory, the pioneer in web analytics. She holds a B.S. in Operations Research, M.Eng. and MBA degrees, all from Cornell University, where she also serves as Industry Scholar for Cornell Institute of Healthy Futures.
Drag comedian, singer, and hostess
Pissi Myles was born kicking and screaming and hasn’t stopped since. As a comedian, singer, and humorist, Pissi has been noted as one of the most talented queens in the North East by fans, critics, and peers. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Mic, RuPaul’s What’s the TPodcast, and more!
Pissi is the title-holder of Miss Fish NYC 2014, a pageant to find the “fishiest” queen in NYC. She is also the winner of Cycle 4 of Mimi Imfurst’s Philly Drag Wars, a thirteen-week competition in the style of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Following her win in Philly Drag Wars, Pissi has continued to produce successful comedy show such as her current show ‘What Makes Me Pissi’ at L’Etage in Philadelphia. Her hosting and comedic talents have earned her the title of 2014’s Best Drag Hostess in Philadelphia at the Beacon Light Awards.
Pissi continues to produce her weekly shows in New York City, among her many other guest appearances throughout NYC, Philadelphia, Connecticut, and NJ.
Founder & Executive Chef at Taco Africana
“My dream is to continue building on the work Nelson Mandela started in South Africa and spread it all over the world,” he says. Zinyusile (Zi) Khumbula was born in Zimbabwe and spent some of his childhood in South Africa. He moved to the United States in September 2009 and been a resident of Harlem since 2014 where he has launched New York’s First Pop Up African Taqueria. Zi’s daily inspiration is the mission of sharing Ubuntu (humanity to others) through food and fellowship. With
his Tacos, Zi aims to create unique dining experiences that become a comfortable space allowing people from all walks of life to come together and share their backgrounds, humor, cultures, life experiences and good food!