2023 Class of ’54 Alumni Awards

Location: United States

Class of ’54 Commitment to Teaching Fellowship for Alumni Recipients 2023

Amherst is proud of its recent graduates who have chosen to teach in urban and other school systems where students may be considered “at risk” or are socio-economically disadvantaged.  Through the generosity of the Class of 1954, which has established a Commitment to Teaching Fund, Amherst is able each year to award stipends to a limited number of Amherst graduates who have been teaching for ten years or less.

The 2023 awardee biographies are listed below.

View the Program Book Here. 

Anna (Vuong) Cai ’18 is a teacher at Hamilton Elementary Middle School in Baltimore City, MD, where she teaches 8th-grade mathematics and Honors Algebra 1. She also teaches a special course of Algebra 1 through the Ingenuity Project, which aims to prepare the next diverse and competitive generation of students to become STEM leaders. Her mission is to foster a learning environment where students feel empowered to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and build their mathematical skills and inquiry.

At Amherst, Anna earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and loved exploring the connections between developmental, social, and educational psychology through her classes and experiences. During college, she was an Education Professions Fellow, a volunteer with The Literacy Project, and a mentor at Reader to Reader. She spent her college summers teaching at Breakthrough in Philadelphia and various summer camps in China.

After graduating, Anna obtained her Master of Science in Education at Johns Hopkins University through the Urban Teachers program. Through her coursework and experiences in the program, Anna developed a culturally responsive and cognitively demanding approach to lesson planning and teaching. She enjoys creating math lessons that use students’ lived experiences and strengths while ensuring they are being exposed to rigorous math tasks.

Olivia (Chase) Hamaoui ’12 is the English Department Chair and a Language Arts teacher at Canyon Vista Middle School in Austin, TX. At Amherst, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English and French. Her interest in teaching was nurtured by her experiences in the Reading,

Writing, Teaching program and the Inside-Out Prison Exchange. Additionally, she taught in Hangzhou, China, as part of the Amherst China Initiative and was a founding member of the EDU, a student group that sought to highlight careers in education and advocated for the creation of an Education Studies major on campus. After graduating from Amherst, Olivia taught English at the University of Burgundy in France as an Exchange Fellow for Amherst’s French department. She later obtained a Master of Arts in English Literature from Oxford University in the United Kingdom before returning to the U.S. to teach both middle school and high school English and Humanities in New York City while completing her second master’s degree, a Master of Arts in Teaching in English Education at Teachers College of Columbia University.

Olivia has hosted student teachers, led Professional Development workshops, and participated in National Endowment for the Humanities summer research and curriculum writing seminars. She was also selected as a Fulbright Teacher for Global Classrooms, a year-long professional development program that culminates in an international exchange in Canada. Additionally, she is passionate about volunteering with LitWorld, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy as a human right and provides children with tools and opportunities to share their stories.

Elizabeth Namugosa ’14 is a lifelong learner, visionary leader, writer, and educator, currently serving as the director of Curriculum & Instruction for the Humanities at Great Oaks Legacy Charter High School in Newark, NJ. From a young age, raised in New Jersey by Ugandan immigrants, Elizabeth aspired to be a schoolteacher. On her way to her undergraduate career, she also pursued her passion for writing and community engagement. She completed an Urban Education Fellowship in the New York City metropolitan area and earned her Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Social Studies from NYU Steinhardt in 2017 while working as an English Tutor and Special Projects Assistant at Great Oaks High School in Newark, NJ. Elizabeth began teaching full-time in Newark as Lincoln Park High School’s founding history teacher, leading her students to outperform their peers across three states in the Uncommon Schools network. She later co-founded Impact, a comprehensive Special Education program that offers general education in-class support, self-contained classes, social-emotional learning, financial literacy, and career counseling.

Elizabeth’s dedication to education also extends beyond the classroom. In 2020, she was selected as a New Jersey Teacher Leader Policy Fellowship member and worked with state policy experts and government officials. From 2018 through 2021, she co-facilitated a book club with other local black women educators. In her free time, she enjoys nurturing her inner child through playtime with her niece and nephews, solo globe-trotting, hiking, kickboxing, yoga, creative writing workshops, and journaling.

Ashwin Ramanathan ’08E is a dedicated teacher who has been educating students in the New York City public and charter school system for 12 years, with eight of those years spent at Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences, a Title I school in Jamaica, Queens. Over 97% of the student body at Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences are minority students, and over 50% of them are from under-represented minorities. Ashwin has taught computer science for eight years, with a curriculum that includes Python gaming, Javascript web development, no-SQL backend development, and Google Apps Script applied to various Google Apps. Ashwin earned his Bachelor of Arts in English at Amherst, where he also took courses in math and science, and his Master of Science in Education in Mathematics from Queens College in Queens, NY. He holds a professional teaching license in Mathematics (grades 7-12).

Outside of the classroom, Ashwin enjoys cycling, basketball, and music production. He even taught many of his immigrant students how to play American football and often reconvenes with them after they graduate to play pick-up football at the nearby park.

Anne-Marie (Witzburg) Sklarwitz ’02 previously worked as a high school Spanish teacher before becoming a middle school counselor at Fuller Middle School in Framingham, MA. She obtained her license to teach in public schools through a partnership with Mount Holyoke. Her mother, a high school French teacher, inspired her passion for language and education. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at Amherst and her Master of Education in Spanish at Suffolk University. At the beginning of her teaching career, Anne-Marie served as the advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance, allowing her to connect with students in a different context and help them think about their identities in positive and exciting ways.

At a certain point, she realized that even though she loved speaking Spanish and teaching, she wanted to devote more time and energy to supporting students in a counselor capacity instead of a classroom. Anne-Marie returned to school for a second master’s degree in School Counseling. She feels fortunate to help support her students as they navigate their journeys toward self-discovery and success. She uses her Spanish skills every day to communicate with her students and has recently started learning Portuguese to better connect with the community. Anne-Marie is committed to anti-oppression and anti-racism work and has worked to make school buildings inclusive places for students. She has presented workshops on creating inclusive classrooms and has published a two-part series on this topic in the Massachusetts School Counselors Association Counselor’s Notebook. Anne-Marie plans to continue building strong relationships with students in order to serve as a trusted adult, role model, and support system as they continue their journeys.


Jesús Luis Zúñiga IV (Louie) ’14 is a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a Master of Science in Education in International Educational Development and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership as a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Amherst. While studying abroad in Brazil, he became fascinated by the power of education as the cornerstone of individual, community, and global development. He explored this curiosity his senior year by joining the nascent Education Professions Fellowship program and taking educationrelated courses. Though Jesús began his career as an investment banker, his passion for education and community development deepened while volunteering in various education initiatives around New York. He decided to teach by earning an ESL Teacher Certificate and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.

After his Peace Corps service, Jesús continued to explore his passion for education by working with the Latin American Leadership Academy in Colombia and Puerto Rico to support their innovative youth development efforts and expansion across Latin America. He also led outdoor education initiatives and taught Middle School ESL in Puerto Rico. Jesús’ interests lie in driving impact in education via nonprofits to improve the quality and access to public education and empower community development worldwide.