Senior English major Shaliz Barzani has been awarded The Steve and Riea Lainoff Crop Trust Fellowship in Honor of Cary Fowler. The fellowship is made possible through the generosity of Steve and Riea Lainoff, parents of Rhodes graduates Brian Lainoff ’11 and Mark Lainoff ’15.
As a fellow, Barzani will join the Partnerships Team of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Bonn, Germany, in August 2021. The 12-month fellowship provides the opportunity for a recent graduate to develop an understanding of the Crop Trust’s work and the issues associated with agricultural biodiversity conservation. Previous fellows have assisted in planning conferences and events, developing communications materials, and even accompanying deposits to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Some of Barzani’s responsibilities will include researching and advocating for international cooperation among potential donors and supporting the Partnerships Team in strengthening involvement in multilateral ties.
“I’ve been passionate about medicine and the climate crisis from a young age, and I was really torn for a long time about how to pursue both,” says Barzani. “I’m honored to be chosen as a fellow at the Crop Trust, as it will allow me to serve, learn, and grow in the field of climate change while also learning how to conduct and run projects globally to prepare me for a career in humanitarian aid.”
With interests in humanitarian aid and refugee empowerment, Barzani serves as the vice president of Rhodes GenUN, which is a Mid-South chapter of the UNA-USA global organization. In 2019, she visited Washington, DC, to speak with legislators about UN vaccination campaigns against polio, measles, pneumonia, and other diseases. Barzani has been volunteering at Memphis’ Refugee Empowerment Program since 2019, tutoring migrant adults in English and helping them prepare for the U.S. Citizenship Exam. She also is a photographer for The Bridge, Rhodes’ student-run, nonprofit street newspaper that helps Memphians experiencing homelessness generate an income and share their stories.
Multilingual in French and Farsi, Barzani is president of Rhodes’ French Club. She studied French at Paul Valéry University Montpellier III in the summer of 2019.
As a classical pianist, Barzani also is pursuing a minor in music and accompanies a band and the Rhodes jazz ensemble during rehearsals and concerts at Rhodes and throughout Memphis. She is a fellow of Rhodes’ Mike Curb Institute for Music and secretary of the Rhodes chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon music fraternity.
“Looking back on the last four years, I couldn’t have asked for a better institution to help shape me into who I am today. The ability to pursue all my interests has been due to the wonderful opportunities that Rhodes offers, and because of the kindness and generosity of my professors. They have supported and guided me from day one and I am very thankful for them.”
Barzani plans to enroll in medical school the Fall of 2022.