Ava Niknahad

Ava Niknahad is a senior in Morse College from Los Angeles, California majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. As a pre-med student, Ava initially joined Education Studies with the hope of gaining a holistic approach towards improving the health and education of refugee children. As an immigrant herself, Ava understands education to be a crucial component of her life and has learned the value of universal access to high-quality education. 
For Ava’s field experience, she interned at the New York State Education Department, Office of Bilingual Education & World Languages. There, she investigated school districts’ compliance with English Language Learners’ (ELL) rights in New York by conducting site visits. She also evaluated districts’ Corrective Action Plans and composed policy memos regarding schools’ necessary future steps. Through this experience, she “learned how ELL and special needs student rights can be unknowingly violated and how important it is to communicate these rights with them.” It was this work that deepened her interest in school health policy.
Ava’s capstone was inspired by her interest in medicine and her aspiration to become a physician. Titled “School Health: Analysis of Collaboration between the Medical and Educational Fields,” her capstone explores best practices for collaborations between physicians and educational professionals in order to create and implement successful school health initiatives. This capstone project is closely linked to her future plans; after graduation, Ava will be attending medical school, and later down the line, she “hopes to become a physician who is committed to both the health and education well-being of children.”