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Catching up with four Brittain awardees on life after Emory
campus gates in spring

Emory prepares its students for life beyond college: whether an individual completes their undergraduate or a graduate and professional program here, they leave prepared to do great things.

Each Commencement, two students from the graduating class (one undergraduate and one graduate) receive the Marion Luther Brittain Award, Emory’s highest student honor.

We know these students are driven, high-achieving individuals with bold goals. What we don’t always know is where they go next. We’re catching up with four awardees from the classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020 to find out what their lives are like these days.


Jalyn Radziminski 18C 

Jalyn Radziminski is a Black and Japanese activist from Indiana who advocates for disability and racial justice, especially in the intersection of mental health. Radziminski is dedicated to breaking down barriers for BIPOC disability communities, including voting and civic engagement, and lifting up community-based and anti-carceral solutions. 

At Emory, Radziminski was a student-athlete, a member of Emory Jazz and Wind Ensemble, a 1915 Scholar, founder and outreach chair for the Black Mental Health Ambassador Program, a 2017 Humanity in Action Fellow and more. Informed by their lived experience as a student and young professional with mental and physical disabilities, Radziminski's work has included navigating voter suppression and more than eight years of advocacy experience at the intersection of race, mental health and mass incarceration. In 2019, Radziminski founded Count US IN, the first Indiana-based non-partisan nonprofit led by BIPOC disability community members that intentionally diversifies voter turnout and broader civic engagement through the education and empowerment of community members. 

Jalyn Radziminski 18C is now pursuing a JD as an evening student at Fordham University School of Law.

Area of study:

Bachelor’s degree in linguistics and interdisciplinary studies with a human rights focus

How did it feel to win the Brittain Award?

I remember winning the Brittain Award clearly. I live with a disability and the symptoms were so challenging that year that I had to decide not to do an honors thesis. It was crushing because I spent years researching a topic that I am still very passionate about to this day (and hope to publish in the future). But I couldn’t execute it as I envisioned while still balancing the human rights projects I was pursuing at Emory and in the community in addition to my class work. 

The same day, after a good cry to come to terms with that decision, I got an email to go to Campus Life — they told me I won the award. I had to ask three times if it was for real. I was at a loss for words. It meant so much to me.  

What are you doing now?

I’m currently pursuing my JD as an evening student at Fordham University School of Law. During my first year, I was named the public interest student of the year and I have spoken at the White House several times regarding issues surrounding disability, voting, racial justice and mass incarceration.

In Indiana, I’m an elected commissioner and vice chair for Indiana Disability Rights’ Protection and Advocacy Services. Nationally, I serve as the director of engagement at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, where I help lead community coalitions, call-to-action campaigns and grassroots organizing.  

How did Emory propel you to where you are now?

This moment put a lot in perspective for me that I still carry today. I invested a lot of time volunteering and serving my community. It took many long hours and creativity to figure out how to balance that and school in the most accessible way possible. But as a Black-Asian, first-generation college student, I knew how much my community at home and at Emory invested in me. Education is a privilege, and I didn’t want my Emory experience to only be about my GPA or publications. I wanted to leverage the tools of the privileged space I was in to benefit my community every step of the way.

The award affirmed that, yes, getting good grades in school is important — but what takes you further in life is unapologetic service to others and toward the overall goals of social justice.

Today, I strive to continue that mindset as one of my favorite poems, the “Theta Woman Poem” says: “Love yourself as you love others and take others with you in your flight.”


Nicole Schladt 18L 

Nicole Schladt serves as general counsel for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), which protects the civil rights of Minnesotans through the Minnesota Human Rights Act, one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country. In this role, Schladt joins MDHR in envisioning a world where everyone can lead lives full of dignity and joy, free from discrimination.

During her time at Emory, she co-founded Emory LGBTQ Legal Services (ELLS), an organization created to provide pro bono legal assistance to members of Atlanta’s queer community. In addition to the Brittain Award, she also received the 2018 National LGBT Bar Association Student Leadership Award. 

Nicole Schladt 18L serves as general counsel for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

Area of study:

Graduated from Emory Law with JD

How did it feel to win the Brittain Award?

I felt deep gratitude when I learned that I won the Brittain Award. I was humbled to be recognized by Emory when I knew there are so many other incredible students contributing to the community as well. 

What are you doing now?

Now, I’m general counsel for Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights. I live in Minneapolis with my wife (as of June 24, 2023!) and our three niblings [gender-neutral term used to refer to the child of one’s siblings].

How did Emory propel you to where you are now?

Emory and the Brittain Award motivated me to continue pursuing public interest work. I never wanted to be in a position where I felt like I needed to take a job simply to make a living. Emory (including the Woodruff Scholarship) made that possible for me. 


Klamath Henry 19C

Klamath Henry is proud to be from the Shasta Tribe of California and Tuscarora Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She was among the fewer than 1% of Emory students of Native American ancestry — but during her time here, she highlighted the culture and contributions of the indigenous peoples of North America as well as the unique challenges students of Native American ancestry face in higher education.

Henry was integral to the Native American Initiative Working Committee, which actively recruits Native American students to Emory and develops academic initiatives and other programming to support them after they arrive. She also served as an intern for the university’s Commission on Racial and Social Justice as part of the Residence Hall Association and a sophomore adviser.

Klamath Henry 19C is a public health specialist and ILAUNCH grant co-director at the Grand Ronde Health and Wellness Center (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde).

Area of study:

Bachelor’s degree in anthropology

How did it feel to win the Brittain Award?

It felt incredible to win the Brittain Award. I felt as though the work that my small community at Emory had done throughout my four years on campus was acknowledged through the award. This would not have been possible without Dr. Vidali, Dr. Suhr-Sytsma and Dr. Womack.

What are you doing now?

I am currently a public health specialist and ILAUNCH grant co-director at the Grand Ronde Health and Wellness Center (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde). I recently completed my master’s degree in cultural anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. 

How did Emory propel you to where you are now?

This award was a stepping stone in my career and helped to give me the confidence to continue on my path.

Samah Meghjee 18Ox 20C

During her time at Emory, Samah Meghjee was deeply involved in Residence Life, served as a tour guide on both the Atlanta and Oxford campuses for prospective students, donors and high-profile alumni, and immersed herself in many different facets of the arts.

Meghjee was passionate about improving mental health, served as engagement chair of the arts-focused mental health group Dark Arts, and co-created and co-directed “Hearing Voices,” an interactive play that became an Oxford tradition. In 2023, “Hearing Voices” made its debut on the Atlanta campus. Meghjee also pursued film, co-directing and editing “Therapist Speed Dating,” which won a Jury Award, a Silver Tripod Award for Best Story and was one of five films — out of 2,000 — nominated for a Golden Tripod Award for Best Story during Campus Movie Fest 2019.

Samah Meghjee is living in LA, wrapping up work as a showrunner’s assistant on a new show that will premiere in January 2024.

Area of study:

Bachelor’s degrees in English & creative writing and film and media studies

How did it feel to win the Brittain Award?

It felt so special! I felt very lucky and was shocked to have such a wonderful surprise happen twice during my time at Emory (the first being when I was selected for the Eady Service Award at Oxford). The news of the Brittain Award came on the heels of having to decline the Bobby Jones Scholarship when my domestic graduate school offer let me know they could no longer allow deferrals due to the pandemic. I was really sad and scared that I was betraying my beloved school by declining such a prestigious offer, one that I had hoped to win for years.

The two best things out of that situation were that my friend Kendall received the award to attend St Andrews instead, and I received the Brittain Award and attended my dream master's degree program at Northwestern, following in the footsteps of other Eagle and [Northwestern University] Wildcat alumni! The honor of winning the Brittain Award really carried me through that dark summer of 2020, and I still look upon that Zoom call where I received the news fondly.

What are you doing now?

I am living in Los Angeles and was most recently working as a showrunner's assistant on an A24/Apple TV+ show that will premiere in January 2024. Right now, I am spending my days wrapping up work on that show and picketing with mentors and friends as part of the writer's strike. While I am sad to feel stranded in the first full year of my post-graduate career, similarly to how I felt in summer 2020, I feel honored to work with such amazing writers and be a part of history.

How did Emory help propel you to where you are?

My time at Emory was invaluable to my path to LA and my job in the film industry. Fellow Oxford/Emory alumnus Farhan Arshad wrote my recommendation letter to Northwestern, where I got my MFA in writing for the screen and stage. And my friend, fellow Emory alumna and A24 alum Adesola Thomas put my name in for my most recent job.

It's all about lifting your friends up in this industry and in this life. All we have is each other! That was the spirit of my time at Emory, where I was primarily focused on building community and making lasting friendships. That community continues to carry me through my career and life in Los Angeles and beyond.

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