Meet the Amherst Together interns!

Julia Shannon

Photography & Student Outreach

Hi everyone! My name is Julia Shannon and I am a first year undeclared college student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In high school, I was very involved with social justice activism with a focus on mental health stigma, and identity intersectionality. I love learning and understanding people’s passions in life, and one day I hope to be a licensed social worker. In addition to my ongoing engagement in social justice issues, I also enjoy photography, music and traveling to new places. My hope, as an Amherst Together intern, is to make lasting connections with students, teachers, parents, and business leaders alike and strengthen our community by creating a safe space for everyone.


Mariah Waldron

Content research/Event coordinator

Hi, my name is Mariah Waldron and I grew up in Woburn, Massachusetts. I live there currently with both my parents and my two brothers. I also have two Siberian huskies named Teaka and Buddy. In high school, I attended Arlington Catholic and played various sports from soccer and lacrosse to the swim team. I also was a part of Spanish National Honor Society.  So what brings me to Amherst? Besides the simple answer of higher education, Amherst is a quaint town full of diversity and learning experiences that I wanted to be a part of. I am a freshman at UMass Amherst and I am studying psychology. I am not completely sure what I will do with my psychology degree, but I hope to help people. I got involved with Amherst Together as a part of my community service for my IMPACT class. I am excited and eager to take part in and to see Amherst emerge as one diverse community, full of towns’ people, students and educators of all types, restaurants and businesses.

Shivantika Rungta

Marketing/event Coordinator

Hi, my name is Shivantika Rungta. I am in the UMass Amherst class of 2018! I am a business major and am interested in pursuing marketing and advertisement in the future. Along with management I am also interested in Social Justice and therefore am extremely excited to be a part of Amherst Together!  I come from India, Kolkata. I live with both my parents, grandparent and my sisters. So why UMass Amherst ? Towards the end of my high school I wanted to leave my comfort zone back home and experience the rich culture of New England. The Isenberg School of Management was definitely my biggest incentive that drew me to UMass. Even though primarily my major is Marketing and Advertisement, a huge part of me loves Social Justice which therefore lead me to join IMPACT!- a social justice class. I have been given the opportunity to work in Amherst Together through my IMPACT! class. In India I was involved in many community service projects so I am glad that I can continue my service to society in Amherst as well. Having an international background, Amherst Together has helped me learn and engage in a new community and has helped me look at various situations with a whole new perspective. I hope that I can contribute my skills to this project with the best of my ability and do wish to see Amherst Together go down in history!


Communications/SPECIAL EVENTS

Hello everyone! My name is Simon Uljarevic, and I am a student at Amherst College majoring in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought. Before coming to Amherst Together this fall, I worked on Capitol Hill as a congressional intern and conducted research on genetics in the summer of 2014. I recently had the privilege of traveling to San Francisco with my peers on an Amherst College Innovation Trek. This program exposed to me the point that minorities have historically been underrepresented within the technology sphere. At Amherst College’s Multicultural Resource Center, over the coming year, I hope to develop programming that both exposes technology fields to the diverse Amherst community and invites newcomers to the MRC. I am tremendously excited to be working with Amherst Together during this incredible period of transformation in the district’s approach to education reform. Attending a high school quite similar to Amherst Regional High School, I can personally relate to many of the initiatives being enacted to improve the quality of student life and peer/mentor engagement. I cannot wait to see the strategic plan continue to become actualized over the coming months, and I feel grateful to be a part of such a socially progressive program. 

Jose Rodriguez

Media/film Production

Hello! My name is Jose Rodriguez and I am a 22 year old senior at Amherst College. I’m majoring in Philosophy (my first love) but am incredibly passionate about filmmaking and film studies. I grew up in a working-class suburb just north of Chicago with my parents and four older siblings. During my free time I like to skateboard (my second love) and watch films (my favorite is Her 2013). I’m excited to be interning with Amherst Together because I believe in the importance of working towards and supporting an inclusive community that honors and promotes the diverse perspectives of its members. As a filmmaker, I am primarily interested in using the medium to incite different ways of thinking about identity and identification. I’m hoping to use my filmmaking vernacular in the context of Amherst Together to incite different ways of thinking about identity within a community so as to imagine a more inclusive and accepting community that’s worth aspiring to.



Hello, my name is Noely Mendoza and I am a sophomore at Amherst College. I come all the way from California to the delightful town of Amherst. While I am still undeclared, I plan on either majoring in Sociology or Film and Media Studies, or perhaps both. Going to the beach and watching documentaries are some of my favorite things to do while I am home, including spending time with my 14 year old sister. I also enjoy writing and filmmaking, and working with other creative forms of expression such as art and design. I am interested in provoking social change specifically in areas where race, gender, and social class may intersect. I am overjoyed to be a part of Amherst Together because of the opportunity to engage on a more interpersonal level with the community during this exciting time of transitioning into more collaborative strategies of convergence.



Hi, my name is Charlotte Owens, and I'm a senior Sociology major at Amherst College. I'm originally from Nashville, Tennessee and plan to return there next year to teach 5th grade English at a public charter school. I'm super passionate about education and diversity, and I also love working with language--I'm currently pursuing ESL teacher certification as well! In my free time, I love to cook, hang out with my little sister, and look at pictures of pug puppies.


brenda mutai


Hi everyone! My name is Brenda and I am currently a senior at UMass Amherst studying Public Health, minoring in Psychology and getting a certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service. I started interning for Amherst Together as part of the Citizen’s Scholars Program. I love to hike, roadtrips, read books and any form of adventure is what I crave. Working with Amherst Together has made me realize my passion for community engagement and how employment areas need to be educated on the various ways to foster social interaction. I am very excited to work to promote and advance communal work in this town. 





Hi! My name is Taylor Thomas, and I'm a sophomore intending to double major in Sociology and Film and Media Studies at Amherst College.  I grew up with my two younger sisters in the best city in the world, Chicago. I love the arts, gluten free baking, and spending time with my family. I come from a very diverse and inclusive community, so coming to Amherst I was slightly disappointed at the lack of the same communal bonds across racial, socio-economic, and gender lines. My hope is that working to bring the vision of Amherst Together into reality will change that. I'm so excited to engage with the Amherst community in such a personal and influential way, and I can't wait to start making change! 

Elaine Zhang

Policy Research

Hello my name is Elaine Zhang, a rising senior at UMass, Amherst. I am majoring in public health and double minoring in psychology and education and currently working on a public policy certificate. I grew up in the suburbs, about 20 minutes outside of Boston. In my spare time I love to run, take photographs, rock climb and play with my new kitten, Cleo. After graduation, I hope to move back to Boston and ideally be working with the community. I am extremely interested in how certain policies affect people's ability to obtain quality health care services and if this has an effect on health disparities. I am extremely excited to be working with Amherst Together this year and hope to gain more experience working within a community. I am eager to learn more about where I live and ready to embrace just how diverse Amherst is.


COMMUNITY engagement

Hey everyone! My name is Aneesh Venkata and I'm a rising sophomore at Amherst College. I am originally from Queens, New York. I am currently a summer intern for Amherst Together through the Pioneer Valley Citizen Summer (PVCS) Program. Although I am undeclared, I am passionate about both the sciences and social justice. I have volunteered in a neighborhood clinic, hospital and youth-run environmental organization in the past. I am excited for this opportunity, where I can interact with and learn about the Amherst community. In my free time, I enjoy biking, swimming, trekking, watching basketball and following politics. 

Elliot kuan

COMMUNITY engagement

Hi, my name is Elliot Kuan, and I'm a rising Sophomore at Amherst College. I'm from Cary, North Carolina, so I'm looking forward to getting to know the Amherst community better this summer. I got my first opportunity to venture out into the community last semester when  I worked with the Amherst Survival Center on the Diaper Drive, and I'm excited to continue engaging with the Town of Amherst on a deeper level. In addition to community engagement, my interests include playing the violin and playing tennis. 

jonathan che

COMMUNITY engagement

Hi! I'm Jonathan Che, a rising sophomore at Amherst College originally from Acton in eastern Massachusetts. Though I'm still undeclared, I'm considering studies in statistics, philosophy, and/or whatever piques my interest in the coming year. I love playing ultimate frisbee, which may or may not have played a large role in bringing me to the wonderful town of Amherst. I'm looking forward to working with different people to help make Amherst Together's vision a reality and bring the town together in new and exciting ways.