12/05/2017 Katie E. Machen

2017 Rouse Scholars Committed to Leadership and Activism

As Franklin & Marshall College sophomores, Mira Lerner and Hargobind Vohra were inspired by their Connections courses, Natural Resources, Conflict and Cooperation, and Race, Class and Criminal Justice.

They are prominent campus leaders, and they are the newest Rouse Scholars.

Trustee Emeritus Andrew Rouse ’49 created the Rouse Scholarship in 2004 to annually recognize two outstanding sophomores who have demonstrated strong academic and leadership skills. The scholarship includes the cost of tuition, books and other academic expenses throughout their education at F&M. The students also have opportunities to design funded research and leadership projects. 

  • As a first-year, Vohra ran for class president and won. “I thought, ‘You can't score if you don't shoot.’" Image Credit: Deb Grove

Vohra’s family emigrated to the United States from India when he was 2 years old and now resides in Kansas City, Mo. The child of Sikh parents, Vohra said, “With my Indian heritage growing up, I would often have an American world at school and an Indian world at home. There were two sets of holiday seasons, two New Year’s celebrations, and two bedtime stories.”

As a first-year, Vohra ran for class president and won. “I thought, ‘You can't score if you don't shoot.’ That was the beginning of my involvement at F&M and such a powerful and enriching way to begin my college experience.” He was re-elected and serves as sophomore class president this year.

Vohra, an intended government major, also serves as a house advisor in New College House and as political affairs director of the Pennsylvania College Democrats, following a term on F&M’s College Democrats' executive board. Last summer, he interned with the U.S. Secret Service and learned more about government service. Following the October shooting massacre in Las Vegas, Vohra gathered and then hand-delivered more than 100 letters from the F&M community to that city's first responders and police officers. 

  • “It’s energizing and uplifting to encourage and help F&M to become more sustainable,” Lerner said. Image Credit: Deb Grove

Lerner hails from the whaling town of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., and intends to declare a joint major in environmental studies and psychology. She is an intern for the Center for the Sustainable Environment (CSE) and commits herself to green campus initiatives, from living in the sustainability house to serving as vice president of the Diplomatic Congress' Sustainability Committee and treasurer for the Environmental Action Alliance.

“It’s energizing and uplifting to encourage and help F&M to become more sustainable,” Lerner said. “It has taught me to accomplish goals. I have also realized there is so much more we can do as a community to be environmentally friendly. Recently, I have been organizing and managing the new ‘Campus Farmers' Market’ that we started in an effort to make fresh, local produce more accessible and affordable to students.”

Lerner serves on the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, is president of the Planned Parenthood activism club, and volunteers at the Developmental and Experience Center. She also is a member of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

As Rouse Scholars, Lerner and Vohra join a cohort of 33 prior recipients. They look forward to using their scholarship to empower others.

“It felt amazing to tell my parents and be able to give back to them, in a way,” Lerner said. “I hope to use my scholarship to grow as a leader and to benefit the F&M community. I want to help achieve long-term sustainability goals and encourage others to act with love and respect for the earth. At the same time, I want to help cultivate a more socially open, aware, and proactive campus culture.”

“The countless hours both inside and outside the classroom were so worth it,” Vohra said. “I remember growing up having people outside of my family often question my worth. I remember having to deal with the prejudice people had simply because of the way I look, my religion, or cultural background. However, it always pushed me to show them I could achieve whatever I set my mind to. I hope to inspire other students to never question their capabilities.

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