News from Ohio State University

Ohio State undergraduates chosen as Millennium Fellows to advance UN sustainability goals

Students at The Ohio State University are using artificial intelligence to solve systemic discrepancies in access to health care.

Selected as 2023 Millennium Fellows, 11 undergraduates joined a prestigious international leadership development initiative offered by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and the Millennium Campus Network (MCN). Millennium Fellows participate in a semester-long program to improve organizational abilities, partnership building and community impact skills while working on a sustainable development-related project.

Daniel Tcheurekdjian, a sophomore theoretical physics and math honors student from Shaker Heights, Ohio, founded the startup Aleph Innovations to help improve patient health care access in everything from appointment scheduling to insurance authorization. With the Millennium Fellowship, he found an international community and podium to help advance his dream. He’s now a campus co-director for the Millennium Fellowship project.

“We learned about the Millennium Fellows program as we were looking for opportunities to take our social impact to the next level,” said Tcheurekdjian. “We had the technology and the traction, but we needed a platform and mentorship to determine how to optimize our actions to cause the greatest positive social impact. The Millennium Fellowship seemed to fit those criteria, so we applied. The program itself has been everything we were hoping for and more.”

Carmen Badell-Kestler, a sophomore pre-med student from Greenville, Ohio, is the project’s campus co-director, and eight of the other Millennium Fellows are working collectively on the project. The group meets on campus and virtually with Millennium Fellows worldwide to enhance skills, support projects, and strengthen regional and international communication and collaboration.

“Aleph also received tremendous support from the Ohio State community,” Tcheurekdjian added. “The staff and partners at the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, the Department of Mathematics Advisory Board, on which I serve, and the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association have all been extremely supportive and helpful.”

Aleph team members were 2022 President’s Buckeye Accelerator finalists and were invited to pitch to the award program again this month. The President’s Buckeye Accelerator supports student founders as they prepare a startup for launch. The accelerator combines entrepreneurship skill building, deep mentorship, community building and funding with a structured process. Accelerator applicants complete a six-week Boost Camp from which six student ventures are selected for the year-long accelerator.

“The 11 undergraduate students who have earned international recognition as 2023 Millennium Fellows are a testament to the innovative spirit that flourishes across our university,” said Melissa Gilliam, executive vice president and provost. “I am proud that these young people are demonstrating a deep commitment to improving the lives of people we serve and garnering well-deserved international recognition.”

Sanjana Ranade, a senior neuroscience and Spanish major from Gahanna, Ohio, is using her Millennium Fellowship to develop an outreach initiative to help sixth- to 12th-graders understand brain form and function.

“Adolescence is a critical period of brain development,” said Ranade, “so brain education is of special relevance and importance to this age group.”

Ranade’s project will form community connections with local middle and high school science teachers and utilize her neuroscience training to produce creative virtual content about brain development to engage adolescent populations.

In addition to Ranade, Tcheurekdjian and Badell-Kestler, Ohio State’s 2023 Millennium Fellows are Katharine Jong, College of Arts and Sciences; Mykenna Roy, College of Arts and Sciences and John Glenn College of Public Affairs; Aiden Clerico, Fisher College of Business; and Joshua Klasmeier, Michael Lapurga, Christopher McCann Jr., Sriadhav Parameswaran and Michael Watters, College of Engineering.

The 4,000 members of the Class of 2023 Millennium Fellows were chosen from a record-breaking 44,369 applicants from over 3,000 campuses across 170 nations. Students on more than 260 campuses in 38 nations are participating this year. The Class of 2023 is engaging in projects collectively advancing all 17 UNAI sustainable development goals and all 10 UNAI principles.

Fellows who complete their projects and the program earn a certificate recognizing completion from UNAI and MCN, which have partnered since 2018 to present the Millennium Fellowship.