Azza Cohen ’16, Ella Cheng ’16 and Justin Ziegler ’16 were selected as the finalists for this year’s Young Alumni Trustee.
Each year, one member of the graduating senior class is elected to represent their year on the University Board of Trustees for four years. The position was created in 1969 in order to ensure that recent undergraduates are represented when determining the future of the University.
Associate Director for Alumni Relations KatherineStellato, who coordinates the selection process of Young Alumni Trustee,declined to comment.
Cohen said that Stellato initially informed members of the Class of 2016 about the position in February. Interested candidates were approved to run if they had more than 50 senior students sign petitions for them, she added.
Cohen is a columnist for The Daily Princetonian.
Cohen said that after initial entries, seniors ranked the top 20 candidates who had run for the position in March, which were then shortlisted to three finalists.
Cohen explained that since the Young Alumni Trustees would spend a total of four years on the Board, the two most recently graduated classes, their own class and the class below them vote between the three candidates.
Cohen participated in the Bridge Year Program in India before attending the university, and helped make a documentary about human trafficking in India entitled "Specks of Dust." She served as the director of the Vagina Monologues in 2016 and has been heavily involved with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement and the Breakout trip program.
Cohen will be studying culture and colonialism at the National University of Ireland Galway with the George Mitchell Scholarship after graduation.
“I have the [University Board of Trustees] to thank for a lot of things, such as Bridge Year, financial aid, thesis funding, studying abroad, the PACE Center — everything important to me has been created with a grant from the trustees, so for me to be able to ensure that those programs continue or to help them expand is exactly what I would want to do to stay connected to Princeton after I graduate,” Cohen added.
Cohen added that she believes she has been able to bring people together and have discussions about really difficult topics, such as sexual assault on this campus and human trafficking in India and New Jersey.
“What I hope to bring to the Board of Trustees is the ability to navigate difficult discussions with grace and respect for other people,” she added.
Cheng said she first heard about the opportunity to be a Young Alumni Trustee through her residential college adviser in freshman year, Kanwal Matharu ’13, who is currently a Young Alumni Trustee.
Cheng is a former president of Undergraduate Student Government. She served on the International Relations Council, Undergraduate Law Review Editorial Board and participated in a variety of other extracurricular activities.
Cheng is a former staff writer for the Daily Princetonian.
She said that she decided to run for the position because she knows that she could leverage a lot from the institutional knowledge she’s gained being on the USG. She noted that during her last four years in USG, she’s spent a lot of time fighting for issues such as the campus pub and student financial aid and learning about how the university operates.
“I’ve been frustrated by how hard it’s been to act with the trustees,” Cheng commented.
She added that being on the board would give her access to communication with the structure that she had felt limited by, especially in terms of the student budget.
“I figured it would be another opportunity way for me to serve this school, given how much I have worked for issues that are directly related to the Board of Trustees,” she said.
Ziegler noted that throughout his time at the University, he had many opportunities to learn more about many aspects of the university.
“There are few things that I care about on campus, and some things that I think should be changed," he said. "After realizing that this is a good platform to create this change, I decided to run."
Ziegler won the University's first Idea Farm competition for co-founding the startup “Sum of Good” and is also a leader and past participant of the Silicon Valley TigerTrek, a free trip for undergraduates to Silicon Valley in order to meet with tech visionaries.
After graduation, he would be working asthe chief of staff to the CEO at Andela, an edtech company that trains software engineers in Nairobi, Kenya, and Lagos, Nigeria.
University Media Relations Specialist Min Pullan did not respond to requests for comment.
Thevoting started on April 26 and will end on May 16.