Undergraduate Fellows

Vito Acosta is a dual-degree student in the Huntsman Program at the University of Pennsylvania, studying Economics at the Wharton School and International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, focusing on Chinese and East Asian Area Studies. Prior to his arrival at Penn, he studied in Changzhou, China for 10 months with the National Security Language Initiative. 

His intellectual interests include languages, international economic policy, applied psychology, conflict resolution, consequences of globalization, classical philosophy, virtue ethics, Italian literature, comparative intellectual thought, and physics. He is especially concerned with the relationship between scientific and religious world views and the role of each in modern society. 

Vito first became involved with Collegium during the ‘Socrates on College’ preceptorial. He has been a fellow with the Magi Project in Science and Theology and looks forward to continuing this role as well as playing a larger part in organizing purposeful, meaningful discussions as a Collegium Fellow. 

Roshan Benefo, Paideia Steering Committee Member, is an undergraduate student studying mechanical engineering and business in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology at Penn.  Roshan’s interests range from philosophy to astrophysics and politics; he hopes to explore the intersection of these fields through Collegium, and is excited to engage with others interested in the humanities and sciences.

Leah Baxter is a sophomore from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Though her major is undecided, she is especially interested in linguistics, philosophy, and literature. Leah first became involved in Collegium through a dinner discussion program on science fiction. She appreciates being involved in Collegium both because they’re the kind of people who would host a serious philosophical discussion on science fiction and because she appreciates their focus on investigating truths about the world through multiple, complementary perspectives.


Tise Ben-Eka is a sophomore dual-degree student at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently studying Finance in Wharton and Korean Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her interest in Collegium began when she attended Collegium’s NSO Preceptorial during her freshmen year. Apart from Collegium, she is a dancer on the Penn Hype dance team, a fellow for the Kim  Korean Studies program, and a member of AKPsi, the business fraternity. Through being a Collegium fellow, Tise hopes to better understand Philosophy in order to have a more intersectional understanding of faith and reason.

Puti Cen is an undergraduate Ben Franklin Scholar from Beijing, China. Pursuing a dual-degree in Cognitive Science and Marketing, she’s interested in decision making and artificial intelligence. When not in class, Puti loves traveling, visiting museums and learning about cool tech products. Have participated in Collegium events since her freshman year, Puti enjoys discussions with people from different religious or intellectual backgrounds and is excited to involve in the planning of events as a Collegium student fellow.

Aaron Chen (C’20) is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in International Relations and Religious Studies. By studying the intersection of these two fields, Aaron is interested in the way religion affects politics and the way political events, movements, and trauma can likewise impact the beliefs of the religious. Through Collegium, he is excited to participate in a forum where he can grow in empathy, encounter new ideas, and seek truth.

Carolyn Chow is a sophomore from the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan studying Health and Societies with a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior. Through Collegium, she hopes to engage in discourse within the humanities to celebrate the pursuit of knowledge, explore disciplinary intersections such as those between faith and science and medicine and philosophy, and finally consider how such ideas might be applied to live in a richer understanding of our messy world of vivid cultures, deep suffering, great history, and rapid change. Outside of class, Carolyn is involved in brain cancer research, her church community, Penn Chamber Music, and Penn Bioethics Journal.

Charles Curtis-Thomas is a sophomore in the College, and has an intended major in PPE. From Central New Jersey, (yes it does exist) he has had a passion for civic duty his entire life. On campus, he is involved in the Undergraduate Assembly, Penn Dems, mentors inner city kids on the weekend, and does acting and poetry performances. Charles likes having a chaotic schedule, and absolutely loves being a part of the Collegium Institute. Charles has a fascination with relations among people, and is excited to join Collegium in attaining a common goal of knowledge. In the future, he hopes to improve the comradery on campus among students through usage of interconnections between religion, and make Penn the best it can be. If you have any ideas, or just want to chat, feel free to email him at

Theresa Dierkes is a junior nursing student from the suburbs of Philadelphia. Theresa is interested in labor and delivery nursing and continuing her education so she could potentially teach health and religion in a Catholic high school.  In her free time, Theresa enjoys playing flute and piano, reading, and figuring out discussion topics for the group Beyond Consent at Penn. Theresa appreciates the work Collegium does on campus striving to foster intellectual conversations in regards to religion and world views.

Benjamin Finnstrom is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree. His involvement with the Collegium Institute began as a PRRUCS Fellow- which enabled him to explore a range of academic research interests. As a PRRUCS Fellow, he discovered a passion for exploring the intersection of utopian ideals, urban planning trajectories, and sacred spaces. In serving within the Collegium Institute Student Association, he hopes to further the Institute’s mission and facilitate means for others to embark on intellectual investigations.

Nova Guo is a Class 2020 undergraduate studying Computer Science, Finance and Statistics in the M&T Program at Penn. She is from Nanjing, China. In her free time, she enjoys reading and cooking with friends. She got involved with Collegium through the Food for Thought program and enjoyed the opportunity to read, think and discuss a topic simply for interest.

Sydney Gwynn was born and raised in the great state of Texas and is currently a Junior studying Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. She enjoys Philosophy because you can put the phrase “Philosophy of…” before any other subject and engage in a thoughtful, higher-level discussion about that topic. Sydney looks forward to being involved with the intellectual community that Collegium fosters and exploring ideas related to both religious and secular thought and how they interact.

Samuel J.C. Hatfield is an undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences studying English. Though just returning this spring of 2019 from a year-long leave of absence for spiritual discernment and family reasons, Sam’s excitement for the Collegium Institute, its people, conversations, and programming never withered. Coming from a Jesuit Catholic all-boys high school in St. Louis, Missouri, Sam has always thoroughly enjoyed the intersection of religious studies and philosophical thought, especially at the intellectual level that Penn provides. The Collegium Institute became the perfect outlet for this dichotomy of interests, and Sam’s tenacity to look for the truth fits well with the Institute’s mission. He also has an intense passion for the fields of law and politics and loves to serve others through that medium. When he’s not spending time in Penn’s Newman Center at St. Agatha & St. James Parish, he’s usually playing pick-up basketball games at Pottruck or grinding Super Smash Bros. Melee with friends in Harnwell. His door is always open to talk about anything, from the quaintly trivial to the most serious.

Momena Haider is a sophomore from the UK who intends to major in Philosophy and, potentially, minor in Psychoanalytical Studies and Religious Studies. She was first introduced to the Collegium Institute during an NSO preceptorial called ‘Socrates on College’, after which she was appointed as a PRRUCS Fellow with the Collegium – a role she is continuing throughout her freshman year. She looks forward to working with the other Collegium Fellows to help develop and promote Collegium’s programs on campus. She is grateful to have found a platform at Penn where she can partake in casual intellectual discussions and help design events to bring those discussions to the Penn community.

Pearl Liu is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences at Penn. She enjoys learning from and exploring the intersection between the humanities, sciences, arts, and other methods of gaining knowledge. She is interested in exploring the relationship between humans and the world around them through multiple perspectives. Pearl hopes to gain a better understanding of what it means to engage in a process of education through her involvement with the Collegium Institute.

Andrew Lowrance is an undergraduate student within the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. He is looking to pursue a degree in Physics and Mathematics. Andrew enjoys researching different technologically-related scientific advances, and is currently conducting research alongside Dr. Paulo Arratia regarding the rheology of active fluids. As someone who has always enjoyed delving into the philosophical contemplations of science and religion, the Collegium Institute provides an excellent representation of the miscellaneous passions that Andrew may hold.

Gabrielle Ramos is a third year Nursing student minoring in Global Health from Woodland Park, NJ. After years of primary and secondary education in Catholic schools, Gabbie brings her strong, active Catholic faith and pursuit for the Truth to everything at Penn, including her work with Collegium. She works in the Penn School of Nursing while maintaining her position as the Youth Ministry Coordinator at St. Catherine of Siena Church, her home parish. Gabbie is involved in Student Nurses at Penn, Nursing Students for Global Health, and Penn Catholic Healthcare Association. She is active in the Penn Newman Catholic Community serving as Treasurer on the Board and Coordinator of Christ in the City. She is also the Head of Formation and Programming at the Catholic Women’s Household! She is most excited about helping coordinate medical humanities programming for Collegium.

Aditya Rao (C’21) is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, prospectively majoring in Mathematical Biology and in Philosophy and Science and hoping to pursue a career as a physician-scientist. His interests range from systems neuroscience, philosophy of mathematics, science, and language, the medical humanities, bioethics, and theology. Outside of Collegium, he assists in research projects on the genetic basis of epilepsy and on tracking the progression
of multiple sclerosis through neuroimaging. He is also deeply involved with Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, the Penn Bioethics Journal, and the Penn Undergraduate Law
Journal. At Collegium, he looks forward to engaging with students and staff who share his interests—especially those fascinated by the medical humanities. Feel free to reach out for any
reason at


Kaden Stenger is a Freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences studying an integrated degree of Philosophy, Poltics, and Economics. He hails from the great mountain state of West Virginia and is the proudest mountaineer you will ever meet. Some of the groups he is involved with on campus include the Government and Politics Association, the traveling Model United Nations team, and Christian Union. Academically, he loves learning about economic structures around the world and discussing the role of religion in America. By joining the Collegium Institute, he wants to learn from as well as contribute to the thoughts of others. There is no better place for him to dive into those deep questions on catholic thought and ponder why our university and society behave the way they do.

Tom Stevens is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He is on Penn’s Lacrosse team as well as the leadership team at the Penn Catholic Newman Center. He loved attending Collegium events as a freshman and hopes he can continue to pursue truth by exploring the intersections of faith and reason as an undergraduate fellow.  

Joseph Squillaro

Mateen Tabatabaei

Anthony Barr, Paideia Steering Committee Member, is a junior undergraduate from Lancaster, PA, studies History, Literature, and Orthodox Thought and Culture as part of the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. He is Managing Editor of both Eastern’s “The Waltonian” as well as the Agora Institute’s academic journal “Adorans.” In addition, he is vice-president of Eastern’s Philosophy Society and is actively involved in the Montaigne Society, Eastern’s ISI Chapter. Through serving on the Committee, Anthony hopes to deepen his love for Catholic social teaching in conversation with like-minded friends.

Tobias Philip, Paideia Steering Committee, is an undergraduate studying Classics and German at Swarthmore College. His early interest in medieval art and architecture drew him into to the Catholic intellectual tradition as it flourished throughout the middle ages. Studying Greek and Latin, he seeks to investigate the Classical underpinnings of medieval Christendom. At the Collegium Institute he hopes to profit from thoughtfully engaging Catholic thought with the contemporary Humanities.