Meet our members


Andrew Yablonsky

GS/JTS ‘20

Major: American Studies and Jewish Law

Concentration: Linguistics

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

As a member of Columbia Mock Trial, AJ has made irreplaceable friendships and has developed a deep appreciation for the law and the value of public service. AJ continues to participate in the activity because it offers incredibly challenging and enjoyable experiences that push him to be better in all aspects of his life. After undergrad, he hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in the field--a path in which Mock Trial has certainly given him an advantage.


Alexandra Farina

BC ‘21

Major: Political Science and English

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Alexandra is a rising sophomore at Barnard College. Lovingly referred to as a rabid dog in the courtroom by her coaches, she hopes to continue her legacy of scaring the opposing team in the future. Alexandra loves Mock Trial almost as much as she loves her dog and the four cups of coffee she must down before doing anything every day. So that’s saying a lot. Alexandra loves her team to pieces because they are always there for her, in and out of the courtroom.


Canwen Xu

CC ‘20

Major: Political Science and Computer Science

Hometown: Boise, Idaho

Canwen Xu’s slogan for life is “Canwen can win.” Unfortunately it’s not always accurate, but she needs that positivity in her life. When she’s not traveling around the country in a navy skirt suit, she enjoys biking, skiing, running (away from vegan restaurants), and cheeseburgers. Her post-college plans include selling out to finance and petting many cats.


Caroline Albert

CC '19

Major: Creative Writing

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Caroline enjoys Mock Trial because it is one of the few environments in which standing up and yelling in the middle of what someone else is saying if you disagree with them is not only acceptable, but encouraged! Her other favorite part about the activity is making her teammates wildly uncomfortable by staring deep into their souls while crying on the stand in basically any role (*attempted* murderers have emotions too, okay?). When she is not in trial, Caroline can be found continuing her quest to make Mock Trial the most exclusive frat on campus or drinking large quantities of seltzer water. After college, she plans to write and act in New York for a bit before becoming a serious person and going to law school.


Hadley Callaway

CC ‘21

Major: Computer Science and Classical Languages

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

The team's token member of Greek life, Hadley had never heard of Mock Trial until the girl living next to her in the Young Women's Christian Home turned out to be Canwen, her future teammate! So she guesses thank god for that. She is studying Computer Science and Classical Languages, writing her thesis about whether or not you really can have it all (her expected conclusion: "only with a willingness to endure lots of pain and long nights in Butler"). Mock Trial--especially the friends she has made on the team--has always provided her with the ~perfect~ release.


Hardy Hewson

GS ‘19

Major: Political Science

Hometown: London, United Kingdom

Coming from a legal system better known for its stuffy accents and white wigs, Hardy joined Columbia Mock Trial with the glamour of Suits on his mind. Less Harvey Specter, more mangled British/German expert witness, it's safe to say he still hasn’t made the transition! Even so, he loves the feeling of taking the stand knowing less than half his affidavit, and reliably walking straight into an impeachment.

In all seriousness, arriving as a Junior, Hardy found in CUMT a welcoming, talented, at times hysterical group of friends. When he is not doing Mock Trial, he can be found playing Columbia intramural football (soccer, if we must) or doing his best to avoid Butler. After graduation this year, he hopes to successfully avoid U.S. Immigration Control for one more year and work in New York City.


Jadie Stillwell

BC ‘20

Major: English

Hometown: Bethesda, MD

Jadie has done mock trial since high school—during which her career highlight was faking a knee injury so she could do her closing statement from behind a table instead of having to walk to the center of the room and risk tripping on her heels. Grace is not her strong suit. She joined CUMT because she enjoys brushing her teeth alongside friends in very small bathrooms, wearing nylons to court and pretending they don’t have runs, and exploring the diverse array of Red Roof Inns across the country. Not all of them actually have red roofs. You’ll learn things like that if you join Mock Trial. When not doing mock, she spends a lot of time reading books, getting shushed at movies, and telling Mashell Rahimzadeh that it is not appropriate to order a “medium” when at Starbucks.


Jodi Lessner,

VP of External Affairs

BC ‘20

Major: Political Science and History

Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware

Jodi loves Mock Trial because it gives her an excuse to travel to states as unique as her home state of Delaware. Her favorite part about Mock Trial is going to compete in fun cities only to spend the whole time practicing in the hotel. Jodi is thankful for the family that she has made on this team, as well as the knowledge that 3/15 of her teammates can do splits during victory celebrations and 1/2 of her team can speak in accents on command (the jury is still out on her Irish accent).  When not doing Mock Trial Jodi hangs out with people from Mock Trial. She is often seen scouting out seats in Butler Library and convincing friends from Mock Trial to come and fill them. One day Jodi hopes to graduate from Mock Trial to Real Trial.


Johanne Karizamimba,

VP of Internal Affairs


CC ‘20

Major: Political Science and History

Hometown: Southeast Missouri

When Johanne thinks about what Mock Trial means to him, he is always drawn to the philosophical musings of Aubrey Graham. This great street lyrical poet, who is more commonly referred to as Drake, once said, “What a time to be alive.” To Johanne, this captures Mock Trial perfectly. It presents one with the opportunity to think on your feet, be intensely competitive, and make people believe a narrative that you create. Besides the intellectual challenge it presents, Mock Trial has given Johanne some of the best friendships and memories of his college experience. Simply, Mock Trial is very important to Johanne for a lot of reasons and he is glad to be apart of this “really big team” (as Mr. Graham would put it).


Josh Pilchik

GS/JTS ‘19

Major: Psychology and Jewish Ethics

Hometown: Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

Ever since joining his high school mock trial team nearly 8 years ago, Josh has been hooked. Each year Josh can’t stop himself from delving into each case and figuring out how to best prove one’s culpability or defend one’s innocence. After graduation, Josh plans on going to graduate school to become a therapist and someday a professor. The great thing about being a part of the mock trial team, and not going into law, is that Mock does not simply teach practices in litigation, rather it enhances our skills in a plethora of arts. Our abilities to lie, read minds, persuade, and speak publicly are increased tenfold. When Josh is not in Mock Trial practice you can find him either at Hillel or in his metacognition psychology lab in Schermerhorn.

Josh’s favorite Mock Trial memory: It is 11pm, we are at a mock trial competition and the first day has ended. We are in our hotel room waiting to receive our notes for the day from our fabulous coaches. What’s the scene set like you ask? Chinese food has just been devoured, we are all in our jammies, and all of us are rocking a different face mask … all of us. This is how you know we are the cool kids on campus!


Mashell Rahimzadeh,

VP of Finance

BC ‘20

Major: Economics, Political Science

Hometown: Long Island, New York

In 2012, Mashell’s oldest sister joined college mock trial and encouraged her to try out the activity; Mashell said no.

In 2014, Mashell’s other sister joined college mock trial and encouraged her to try out the activity; Mashell said no.

In 2016, Mashell joined college mock trial; the Debate team had said no.

 Two years later and Mashell is totally over it. Seriously. Mock trial has given her opportunities that debate never could have. Like the opportunity to convince people that she’s Italian and has a Long Island accent. Did you know that was possible for an obviously brown woman? Well it’s not; not unless you’re on CUMT.

 When she’s not doing mock trial, you’ll probably find Mashell hanging around Lincoln Center pretending to be a Fordham student or trying to eat her way through all of Hell’s Kitchen. You might even find her at Hungarian pastry shop with one Jadie Stillwell, after being kicked out of Starbucks for ordering a “medium."

Owen Monroe

CC ‘20

Major: Art History and English

Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island

Owen joined mock trial because he participated in competitive sports and Model United Nations in high school, and wanted to be part of a competitive team and improve his public speaking skills. Luckily for Owen, Mock Trial does both of these things! Owen enjoys Mock Trial because the activity is essentially competitive storytelling, which appeals to him as an English major. Mock has also greatly improved his confidence and ability to think and speak on the spot, as well as formulate concise and coherent arguments. Through Mock Trial, Owen has met some of the most caring, fun, and interesting people. When not doing Mock Trial, he is typically reading, hanging out with friends, playing some pick up basketball, or exploring New York (mostly its art museums). After college, Owen would like to teach, write, or work in a museum, but he is open to other ideas and suggestions!


Shantanu Shenai

CC '21

Major: Economics and Political Science

Hometown: Mumbai, India / Singapore, Singapore

Shantanu’s experience in Mock Trial thus far has been truly unforgettable. After getting slaughtered as an attorney in his first tournament as a freshman, Shantanu and his team had a moment of inspiration: why not leverage his passable Indian accent to create a new character witness? And thus Shantanu transitioned from an eager young lawyer into an impossibly enthusiastic Uber driver from Ludhiana, Punjab (a role which he unashamedly embraced).

Outside the courtroom, Mock Trial has also given Shantanu the chance to make some amazing friends and travel to some of America’s great cities (such as Lancaster, PA and Stevenson, MD). After Mock Trial and Columbia, Shantanu does not know exactly what he wants to do. He is, however, sure that he is going to disappoint his family by not becoming an engineer.


Tessa Silverman, President

CC ‘19

Major: Human Rights

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

Tessa has been doing Mock Trial for 8 years now, because it’s her favorite thing ever. Tessa loves the activity and the community it’s given her, and is so excited to spend her last year at Columbia competing alongside her amazing teammates. In the limited time during which she is not in practice or away at tournaments, Tessa likes watching Netflix (and can proudly say that she’s watched The Office 3 times through), exploring New York City, and traveling with her friends and family. Tessa is interested in public defense work and hopes to one day become a lawyer and defend real live human beings in real cases. What a crazy concept!