Last month Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow recognized 13 graduating Tufts students with the Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service. Now in its 11th year, the award representing outstanding civic achievement was given to six undergraduate and seven graduate students.

Bacow praised the recipients, saying that "This year’s winners exemplify the many ways in which our students make a difference beyond the university–literally around the world. Their generosity of spirit and commitment to others are models for all of us."

The Presidential Award was established in 1999 by then President John DiBiaggio. All Tufts students are eligible for nomination. This year’s recipients were:

Undergraduate Students
Malek A. Al-Chalabi, Civil Engineering, E09
 An exemplar citizen engineer, Al-Chalabi has spent his time at Tufts applying his engineering knowledge to community needs. As a Tisch College Citizenship and Public Service Scholar, Al-Chalabi worked with Groundwork Somerville to study green technology and suggest a green infrastructure implementation plan for the City of Somerville. He has also interned at the Stockholm Environmental Institute, where he studied green technology use in Dubai. Furthermore, Al-Chalabi has participated in the Solar Decathlon, made a documentary about investing in green practices, and organized a panel in which Tufts engineering professors discussed how they integrate active citizenship into their work.

Jennifer C. Bailey, Political Science, A09
 Bailey has shown her impressive leadership though a range of activities during her time at Tufts. She served as President of Emerging Black Leaders, led several service trips to New Orleans, was an active member of Tufts Africana Center, and also was Tisch College Citizenship and Public Service Scholar. Furthermore, Bailey was one of 65 students in the country to receive a prestigious Truman Scholarship, and was one of 15 students nationally to be named a Scholar in the Galbraith Program on Inequality and Social Policy.

Nancy M. Henry, Anthropology and Political Science, A09
 Among her many accomplishments, Henry has served an Air Force ROTC cadet since her sophomore year and has been awarded a variety of ROTC commendations and awards. In fall 2008, she served as Operations Group Commander, and oversaw the ROTC training program for 40 cadets. Bringing together her ROTC work and her active involvement with the Institute for Global Leadership, particularly the New Initiative for Middle East Peace (NIMEP), Henry co-led a research project which focused on the impact of the Iraq War on Jordan. The group received a grant from the Compton Foundation to distribute the results of their, as well as bring two Jordanian students to the US for an ALLIES conference at which they presented their research. Additionally, Henry led a trip to Lebanon with other Tufts students and conducted research on nationalism and the Lebanese Armed Forces and published a paper based on that research in the New Initiative for Middle East Peace journal.

Padden Guy Murphy, International Relations and Chinese, A09
 Murphy co-founded Alliance Linking Leaders in Education and the Services (ALLIES), an undergraduate-led initiative dedicated to building a bridge for shared understanding between future civilian and military leaders through joint education, training, and relationship building. He also led the Fireside Chat program, founded and served as inaugural editor of the Institute for Global Leadership publication Discourse, published Argentina: From the Ruins of a Dirty War, and serves as a senator for the Tufts Community Senate. Additionally, Murphy is an IGL Synaptic Scholar and a member of EXPOSURE, IGL’s photojournalism, documentary studies and human rights program.

Morissa Sobelson, American Studies and Community Health, A09
 A dedicated community health advocate, Sobelson has served on the Student Health Advisory Board, including serving as its co-chair for two years. Additionally, she served for a year as the co-chair of the Tufts HIV/AIDS collaborative, and founded and co-chaired the Health Disparities Student Collaborative. In her capacity as a Synaptic Scholar with the Institute for Global Leadership Sobelson co-convened "Fireside Chats" with faculty members and students, seeking to enhance the quality of intellectual life on campus. She has also traveled to Africa three times to work on health disparity issues there. In fall 2007, Sobelson organized a major conference on health disparities in Boston, which attracted 400 attendees an outstanding group of speakers, including the Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health. Her senior honors thesis on the community health center movement, has been accepted for presentation at the spring meeting of the Society of Applied Anthropology.

Anjuli D. Wagner, Peace and Justice Studies and Community Health, A09
 As an engaged scholar, Wagner has completed research assistant projects in Boston and in Ghana. Also locally, on two separate occasions she interned for the Nobel Laureate International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. She has volunteered leadership in Somerville (Welcome Project) and in Medford (Peace Games), our host communities. She has contributed her skills to Dorchester youth (YPACT) and leadership to the Greater Boston region via PeaceJam. Additionally, for two years she has served as a member of the Peace and Justice Studies Executive Board.

Graduate Students
Elizabeth Shenk, School of Dental Medicine, D09
 Shenk’s commitment to community service dates back more than 15 years, when in middle school she first became involved in the non-profit Operation Smile. As an undergraduate at Vanderbilt, Shenk launched local chapter of Operation Smile and brought other students with her on dental trip to China. Prior to entering dental school, Shenk worked full-time as an International Medical Missions Coordinator for seven 50 member medical teams that traveled to India, Venezuela, China and the Philippines. Additionally, as a Tufts dental student Shenk has participated in dental mission trips to Mexico and Nicaragua.

Vaani Garg, School of Medicine, M09
 After her third year of medical school, Garg took a leave of absence in order to pursue a fellowship with the Public Health Service Corps, American India Foundation in Pune, India. Shocked at the appalling health conditions she found, Garg took it upon herself to improve the lives of the women and children she had gone to research. She started an educational initiative for both residents and health care workers and coordinated health education sessions on nutrition, oral hygiene and healthy living practices. In addition, Garg addressed the children’s social and personal needs and set up a schedule of social events in addition to conducting individual and group counseling sessions. While on the School of Medicine’s campus, Garg has served as President of the Global Health Interest Group (GHIG), Co-Chair, South Asian Medical and Dental Association, and has volunteer for the Sharewood Project, a student run clinic that provides free care to underserved patients.

Dmytro V. Say, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, G09
 Say is a Fulbright Scholar who has modeled a powerful combination of academic excellence, intellectual rigor, and civic engagement. A founding member of the interdisciplinary student group Child’s Right to Thrive, Say has worked developing resources for children in state care in Ukraine, China and India. In his native Ukraine, Say developed a program that sent groups of university students to local institutions caring for children with disabilities, a relatively unheard of activity in his country. Even more impressive, he organized an exhibition of the children’s arts and crafts work in the University Gallery – then capped off that awareness-building breakthrough by bringing groups of these ”forgotten” and “hidden” children out of their institution and to the exhibition on a field trip. Additionally, Say participated in the design and implementation of summer programs with the International Outreach Coalition, bringing groups of U.S. and eastern European high school and college students together for summer service work in Armenia and Ukraine.

Christina E. Sass, The Fletcher School, F09
 Beyond providing leadership to the Fletcher community, Sass is devoted to children and youth programs, acting as a Youth Programming Consultant with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization and teaching, designing curriculum, managing staff, and fundraising with the Utahloy International School in the People’s Republic of China. In the Boston area, Sass has volunteered at Sports4Kids and Roots and Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute. Sass founded the Fletcher Youth Initiative student organization at the beginning of this academic year and has put on a number of events that have benefited children and provided educational opportunities for the Fletcher students.

Bindu Panikkar, School of Engineering, E09
 In 2002, Panikkar was recognized with an Outstanding Graduate Academic Performance Award by Tufts for her thesis on “Assessing & Controlling Occupational Health Risks Among Immigrants in Somerville.” Through this work, which received grant funding, Panikkar worked closely with the Haitian Coalition and Community Action Agency of Somerville. Her commitment to social justice and community research has led her to serve as the Student Representative on the Steering Committee for Tufts Community Research Center (TCRC) a project of Tisch College. Panikkar has also helped staff TCRC, through which she compiled a database on community collaborative research at Tufts, helped develop and conduct a public program on this type of research at Tufts, and assisted with organizing the first Tufts "speed dating" program to introduce faculty and community representatives to each other.

Ashley M. Colpaart, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, N10
 Colpaart serves nationally as Policy Chair and Steering Committee member for the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). As a writer with a public citizenship focus, Ashley keeps a much-liked blog called “Epicurean Ideal” and is also a much-trusted and highly-valued writer for Tufts Professor Wilde’s blog on “U.S. Food Policy.” Colpaart’s blogs are notable for their substance and facts, presented with a distinctive passion. Her posts on food policy have several times received links from larger national web media sites, including leading national economics and sustainable agriculture blogs. Colpaart is also the communication chair for Slow Foods Tufts Chapter. She is a panel chair for the Friedman School’s student-organized annual research conference, which is a remarkably professional venue for student research each Spring.

Deborah E. Linder, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, DVM09
 Linder has been Class President since her first year in veterinary school, and has worked with students, faculty, and technicians to help organize an educational demonstration on alternatives to animal use in education. As a member of the steering committee for Cummings Paws for People Pet Therapy Program, Linder has recruited volunteers and worked tirelessly in launching this new program. Linder has worked extensively on the bonds between humans and animals, including developing a program in which she brought together children with heart conditions and dogs with heart conditions. Furthermore, Linder has done extensive research examining obesity in animals and humans.



Originally published May 2009