Ragnhild Bruland is pursing a PhD in psychology from The New School.  She grew up in Norway where she studied psychology at the University of Oslo. She has background in musical theater, dance and music, and a variety of experience working with kids and youth. When moving from Norway to New York years ago, Ragz was inspired to work with youth and dancing, and she quickly gained interest in hip hop and street styles.  She earned her MA in psychology from the New School for Social Research in 2014. In collaboration with dancers she developed the Flex Dance Program, an arts education initiative founded in 2014 that fosters positive growth among young people in difficult circumstances through creative mentorship and dance. With her artistic background, and as a recent psychology graduate, she strongly believes in the value of artistic expression and its positive effects on mental health. Bruland´s research interests include how dance may influence resilience and coping skills for youth. The main focus of her dissertation is to explore the effectiveness and benefits of the Flex Program.


August Finkas, born in 1993,  is pursing a degree in Clarinet Performance at the Univeristy of Southern California, Thorton School of Music studing under Yehuda Gilad. August started to play the clarinet at age 11 in the Tivoli Boys’ Guard, continuing his clarinet studies under John Kruse at The Royal Danish Academy of Music. He has also taken part in master classes with Martin Fröst, Philippe Berrod, Andreas Sundén and Larry Combs.  In March 2017 he won the clarinet audition for co-principal clarinet with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway. From a concert with the orchestra later that year, the journalist wrote about August Finkas’ playing:”…The lonely clarinet solo in the beginning of the piano concerto was played like it came from another world” (Aftenbladet.no). He also joined the orchestra, as principal clarinet, on their tour to The Netherlands, were they played in the legendary hall “Concertgebouw”. August is active as a chamber musician and also as a member of the wind quintet Emanon, which has given various concerts at home and abroad and taken part in the P2 Chamber Music Competition. He has also appeared as a soloist with orchestras on a number of occasions around the world including in the USA, Germany, Sweden and Poland.


Deniza Georgieva holds a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and a B.A. in European Studies from Sofia University in Bulgaria.  Deniza is studying towards an MA in Psychology at the City College of New York as a recipient of the TTS scholarship in conjunction with the Fulbright scholarship.  Her research interests in the field of social psychology, conflict management, forced migration, discrimination and human rights have led her to an array of community and activist projects, including with non-profit organizations such as CARITAS Sofia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where she worked with the Roma community in Bulgaria, and with asylum seeking and refugee population. In her most recent role as a TV presenter and human rights journalist, she continued her commitment to the cause of social justice, raising public awareness with special focus on the needs and problems of asylum seekers and refugees, the LGBTQI community, ethnic minorities, and other vulnerable persons and groups. She has produced four short documentaries, exploring the topics and problems concerning the refugee and LGBTQI communities in Bulgaria.  Deniza’s experience working with refugee children and minors has inspired her to continue her studies in Psychology in order to extend her expertise and be better equipped to provide more efficient support in her future.


Heidi Elisabeth Hesjevoll is a Norwegian student at the University of Oklahoma where she is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. She is especially interested in organic and Analytical chemistry. In her free time she likes learning about the brain, neurons and their functions. She also enjoys community service, she has volunteered for the Red Cross Norway at an asylum seeker reception center.


Elitza Koeva is a Bulgaria-born artist & researcher. She was a research student at Kyoto University and has a Master’s Degree in Information Studies from the University of Tokyo, as a recipient of the Monbusho scholarship from the Japanese Government. Her practice is in the intersection of fine art, media and architecture. Elitza has worked at various art & architectural firms and institutions: OMA, Arata Isozaki & Associates, MAD Architects, MOT (Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo) and Junya Ishigami. She also worked on the14th International Architecture Exhibition / Fundamentals (Venice Architecture Biennale, 2014). Recently, Elitza was a research assistant at the Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD), ETH Zürich. She is currently persuing her doctoral studies at the GSD Harvard, supported by the Fulbright and Thanks To Scandinavia grants. Her research focus, triggered by her experience of living in Tokyo, explores how virtually-enhanced urban space alters perception by interrogating the role of art, digital media technologies and the city in their respective and inter-related production of subjectivity. More about Elitza: http://elitzakoeva.com.


Stoyan Madin is a joint Thanks To Scandinavia – Fulbright scholar from Bulgaria, pursuing an LLM at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law with focus on Human rights and Comparative Constitutional Law. He holds a Master of Law from Sofia University and serves as a judge at the Criminal Division of the Sofia District Court, the biggest and busiest court in Bulgaria. His experience includes working as a legal expert for the Commission for Protection Against Discrimination and as a prosecutor at the Sofia District Prosecutor’s Office. Apart from his duties at the Sofia District Court, he is a member of the Managing Board of the Bulgarian Judges Association since the fall of 2015 and has devoted time and effort for promoting the independence and integrity of the Bulgarian Judiciary. In 2016 he was chosen as one of 21 young justice professionals to participate in the Junior Justice Professionals’ Training Program in the USA. In the same year he was selected for a long-term training and working program with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, with the financial support of the European Judiciary Training Network. He worked for the Bulgarian section of the Court and studied case law of the ECHR in detail under the supervision of highly experienced lawyers. He focuses primarily on criminal law and proceedings, and human rights. His current interest of study is the interaction of human rights law with privacy, cyber and national security, and environmental issues.


Sofie H. Mathiasen is an environmental engineer pursuing a master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Washington in Seattle. She specializes in water and specifically storm water management and climate adaption.  She graduated from Aarhus University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with a specialization in Urban Water. Before pursuing a master’s degree Sofie worked as a project engineer for the consulting environmental engineering company EnviDan.


Tuure-Eerik Niemi, originally from Finland and educated in Swaziland, the Netherlands, the United States and Belgium, is a graduate student of European Politics at Columbia University. His interests include EU foreign and trade policies, global governance reform and political risk analysis. Before joining Columbia, Tuure was a EU-ENP Scholar at the College of Europe, Bruges, where he graduated with a MA in EU International Relations and Diplomacy. Tuure also holds a BA (Hons.) in World Politics from Leiden University and is a former Finnish Cultural Foundation’s UWC Scholar. He is a member of FutureLab Europe, a Brussels-based network of young European social entrepreneurs and professionals. Tuure has worked as a project coordinator for a community arts project with asylum seekers in Helsinki, research assistant on EU neighbourhood policy in the Hague and as an intern for an environmental justice organisation in Detroit. 


Victoria Nilsson is a 24-year-old Swedish student currently pursuing her Master’s of Fine Arts in Directing at The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, NYC. She holds a BA in Language and Culture from University College London in the UK, specializing in Latin and Spanish. As part of her undergraduate studies, she lived abroad in Valencia, Spain for a year and her life in theatre began with a group there called Escena Erasmus. This experience opened her eyes to how the stage and theatre can be used to bring people together and build bridges across cultural, political and social borders. Today she is part of the Youth Committee for the International Youth Media Summit, an organization that focuses on encouraging young filmmakers across the globe to use film as a medium to instigate positive social change. 


Pauliina Patana is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Politics in the Department of Government at Cornell University. Her research focuses on party politics, political behavior and political economy in advanced industrialized countries. More specifically, Pauliina’s dissertation project seeks to explain variation in the recent rise and popularity of right-wing populist parties in Western Europe by investigating the conditions under which populist right-wing parties perform well in some local settings but not in others. Originally from Finland, Pauliina holds a B.A. in International Affairs and a M.A. in European Affairs from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. Prior to starting her PhD at Cornell, she worked on health and social policy research at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, France.


Elvira Sihvola is pursuing a Juris Doctor degree at Columbia Law School, where she focuses on international law and financial regulation and is a James Kent Scholar. She holds an BA degree in Government and Economics from Harvard University. She is also a graduate of United World College Costa Rica, where she completed the International Baccalaureate diploma, made possible by the generous support of the Finnish Cultural Fund. Outside of her studies, Elvira serves on the editorial board of the Columbia Business Law Review and works in the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic, as well as serving as a research assistant to Professor Anu Bradford. Elvira has previously completed an internship in microfinance in Argentina, studied financial inclusion at a London-based think tank, and interned at the New York Attorney General’s Office in the Investor Protection Bureau. In the summer of 2018, she is working as a summer associate at the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, focusing on international investigations and arbitration. She is an avid runner, who loves to explore New York City on foot.


Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focuses on North Korean and East Asian history. He is originally from Sweden and came to the United States in 2013, when he moved to Washington DC to pursue a Master’s degree in international relations at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Prior to that, he worked as an advisor to the Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden, and as an editorial writer at the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.


Johanna Snell, a Finnish student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, is the recipient of the 2018-2019 Thanks To Scandinavia Herbert Singer Memorial Scholarship. Her professional background is in project management, digital business, and consulting; however, she has decided to steer her career towards the global development sector, and is pursuing a Master of International Affairs with a focus on economic and political development.


Vibeke Strøm studying towards an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School.  She is the founder and Head of Teach First Norway, the Norwegian equivalent to Teach For America. Born in Seoul, Korea in 1975, Vibeke was adopted to Norway as a baby and grew up on the coastal side of middle-Norway. She now lives in Oslo. Vibeke holds a BA (Honors) in Performing Arts/Enterprise Management from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (1998). From the Norwegian Business School, Vibeke has completed a Foundation Program in Business Administration (2011) and an Executive Master Module in Leadership Development in Organizations (2016). After working in the entertainment industry as a music manager, consultant and TV producer, Vibeke started to work for the City of Oslo Education Agency in 2009. Through leading the Teach First Norway-program, she has addressed major challenges in the public sector relating to deprivation, immigration and education. 


Iida Tikka is a Finnish journalist and a Thanks To Scandinavia Scholar 2018-2019. She will be completing a graduate degree in Security Studies in Georgetown University. Ms Tikka has previously worked as a Moscow correspondent for Finnish news channel MTV3 covering Russian foreign policy, politics and the war in Eastern Ukraine. She holds a BA degree in social sciences from the University of Tampere.  Photo Credit: Sini Pennanen / Sininen Kuva.


Kristian Torp is a 26-year-old lawyer from Aarhus University (Denmark), taking a year off to study a Master of Laws at Harvard Law School. He graduated as a Master of Laws from Aarhus University in 2015 and has worked at Holst, Law since. From 2017 he has concurrently been employed as a part-time Ph.D. student at Aarhus University writing a thesis on ‘Immorality and Illegality of Contracts’ and from 2018 as an editor and legal commentator on Karnov’s Law Collection. His academic interests span a broad range of legal subjects, but with a primary focus on Dispute Resolution and issues relating to the Law of Contracts and Law of Torts. He is passionate about teaching and has since 2012 held teaching positions – first as a student instructor, later as an external lecturer and currently in his capacity as Ph.d. student – in subjects as diverse as Constitutional Law, Family Law, Public Law, Jurisprudence and legal theory, Civil Procedure, and International Arbitration. In addition, Kristian acts as a coach for the university’s Willem C. Vis Moot Team and a board member of the Aarhus Vis Moot Alumni Association which he co-founded.


Peter Vang Uttenthal is a Danish PhD student in Mathematics at Cornell University. He holds a Cand.scient. in Mathematics from University of Copenhagen and a Master of Advanced Studies in Mathematics from University of Cambridge, UK. Before that, he did a BSc in Mathematics at University of Copenhagen and a BSc in International Business at Copenhagen Business School.