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Episode 8: The powerful force of compassion

Ashwyn Sam (2020 cohort), a PhD student in aeronautics and astronautics, reflects on the impact of a strong support system and the compassion of others on his professional journey.
KHS logo with "Imagine A World" as text on a blue and red background

In this week’s episode, Ashwyn Sam, a fourth-year PhD student in Aeronautics and Astronautics, reflects on the profound impact that a strong support system and the compassion of others have had on his professional journey. He also explains the beauty of theoretical physics, shares his passion for cinema, and reveals the reason he was fed goat brains as a child.

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Four family members stand together; one holds his diploma and wears a cap and gown

Photo courtesy Ashwyn Sam

Ashwyn Sam (2020 cohort), from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is pursuing a PhD in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford School of Engineering. He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga with bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics. Ashwyn aspires to push the frontiers of space exploration while also aiming to impact global discoveries in renewable energy by researching novel propulsion technologies. As a research assistant at UTC, he focused on the development of multi-fidelity methods and physics-based models for numerical investigation of turbulent flows. He was part of UTC’s team that placed first in the country for a national rocketry competition and was adviser to the team that currently holds the world record for highest altitude achieved by a complex I class rocket.

Ashwyn placed first in Tennessee for a collegiate math competition and received a proclamation from the mayor for his academic and community-based projects.


two men wearing imagine a world t-shirts seated on stairwell

Imagine A World is hosted by Willie Thompson, left, and Taylor Goss, right. Photo credit: Micaela Go.

Taylor Goss (2021 cohort), from Lacassine, Louisiana, is pursuing an MA in music, science, and technology and an MPP in public policy at Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. He graduated with college honors from Louisiana State University with bachelor's degrees in music and entrepreneurship. Taylor aspires to connect musicians and policymakers, using the arts to communicate societal needs and provoke policy change.

Willie Thompson (2022 cohort), from Griffin, Georgia, is pursuing a master's degree in business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a minor in Chinese Studies. He intends to create and contribute to organizations using the arts as a conduit for community building and intercultural education.

Imagine A World's theme music was composed and recorded by Taylor Goss. The podcast was originally conceived and led by Briana Mullen (2020 cohort), Taylor Goss, and Willie Thompson, along with Daniel Gajardo (2020 cohort) and Jordan Conger (2020 cohort).

Special thanks to Sanaa AlamRachel DeschSydney Hunt, Chan LeemKara SchechtmanTakondwa Priscilla Semphere, and Rahul Thapa.

Knight-Hennessy scholars represent a vast array of cultures, perspectives, and experiences. While we as an organization are committed to elevating their voices, the views expressed are those of the scholars, and not necessarily those of KHS.

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