Every year, students in the CPS Scholars program work on projects to create positive change and build capacity in Tufts’ partner communities. Below are the projects for the 2009-2010 school year.
Alon Agai and Jeffrey Brooks
Alon and Jeffrey are working with the Mayor’s Taskforce on Suicide and Mental Health, which was convened in March 2004 in response to an overwhelming number of youth suicides and overdoses in the city. The goal of this project is to promote resilience and positive emotional health by raising awareness of healthy coping strategies through education and information on mental health. The Art Exhibit will create a forum through which people can gather, gain information and feel comfortable discussing issues related to mental health.
Lauren is working with Generation Citizen, a program that has developed a rigorous and engaging curriculum that pairs college mentors (teachers, college students, community leaders) with high school students for 2-4 hours per week. Focused on both classroom instruction and action-based work, the Generation Citizen curriculum has been reviewed by academics and educators, and is aligned with state standards and grade span expectations. Through the curriculum, mentors will work with students to develop civic knowledge, build civic skills, and cultivate civic motivation. Students will be familiar with the history and processes of American democracy, as well as the meaning and value of engaged citizenship. They will become proficient in a core set of skills and competencies required for effective political action, will come to believe in their capacity to make a difference, and will recognize their potential roles as catalysts for change
Kelsey Bell, Melanie Papadopoulos, and Terhys Persad
Kelsey, Melanie and Terhys are working with an updated business plan, strategy, and financial goals/projections and are ready to make changes to the way the Language Bank does business and will move forward with an as-of-yet unprecedented rate to fulfill the Bank’s great potential. Kelsey, Melanie, and Terhys will focus on two areas in order to move forward with their project. First, we will redesign the website to better serve both the Language Bank’s clients and their own needs. We will also institute an aggressive marketing plan to expand the clientele and get the Language Bank’s name out in local communities and beyond. We aim to improve the web-site so that it is easier to use for those who are in need of translation as well as for future scholars taking an interest in the project. We will host trainings for the interpreters/translators in the program.
Alexandra is working with the Tufts University Office of Sustainability to create and run an “Eco-Representative” (Eco-Rep) program in one or more residential units on campus during the year. The Eco-Rep program trains student leaders who model and promote environmentally responsible behaviors in the residence halls and other university facilities through peer education.
Laura will work with the International Institute of Boston; Laura ran the evening clinics for their clients (refugees and immigrants). The Evening Clinics served as a resource for existing clients, especially those in the English as Second Language (ESL) classes that ran during this time, to aid them in getting settled and adjusting in the United States. As well as providing assistance to current clients, she will facilitate the intake of new clients. As part of her work as a clinic intern she helped clients with such things as applying for food stamps, applying for MASSHealth care, applying for cash assistance, finding a new home, finding affordable childcare, and learning about fuel assistance among other things. Through this project Laura learned more about the immigration process, the resettlement process, and the experiences of the clients she encountered.
After working for two years with the Community Action Agency of Somerville, first as an intern assisting housing advocates and then as a tenant organizing intern, Rachel is now working on a senior thesis as her scholar’s project. Rachel’s thesis addresses the topic of campaign finance-related corruption in Central America through a comparative study of Costa Rica and two time periods in Guatemala’s history, comparing the results of these case studies with Kenya in order to understand the implications of her findings for other geographic locations. The thesis specifically focuses on qualitative characteristics of campaign finance-related corruption and tests three hypotheses based on different characteristics of corruption and the relationship of this corruption to the threats of organized crime and political violence. Rachel’s thesis connects to active citizenship because of the implications it carries. Her hope is to figure out the ways that campaign finance corruption correlates with security threats in order to better understand the ways that corruption affects security issues in developing countries. This has implications for which are the most effective ways to address corruption in order to eliminate some of its harmful effects.
Arielle is working with FoodTalk, the newly formed task force of Tufts students who are dedicated to eating healthier and obtaining a healthy lifestyle. FoodTalk is the student voice that works in conjunction with Tufts Dining Services striving to meet the nutritional needs of Tufts students. They are the action group that responds to students’ requests and suggestions, and they create programming to promote attention to all aspects of healthy eating. Arielle has worked with Nutrition and Marketing Specialist, Julie Lampiein Dining Services. Her goal is to bring important nutritional information to the campus for students, faculty and staff.
Juhee is researching how culture influences Korean men’s experience of living as an immigrant, with an overarching goal of finding out more about what influences Korean men’s mental and physical health. This will be done by literature review, fieldwork, in-depth interviews, data analysis and argumentation, then concluded with a presentation of the findings. Juhee is working with Korean communities all over Boston including Medford, Allston, and Brookline.
Ryan is working with the National Park Preservers (NPP), which is a newly created program, operating as a branch of Groundwork Somerville. It is funded by federal stimulus money earmarked for environmental projects, and based on the successful Green Team model that Groundwork Somerville runs for high school students. NPP employs 5 young adults ages 18-24 as full time service leaders, performing park maintenance and participating in service days as well as professional development workshops 1-2 days a week. The team is guided by a program coordinator, as well as a service coordinator. As Service/Development Coordinator for the National Park Preservers, Ryan’s job is twofold; planning and coordinating Service Days two Fridays a month for the 6 member team, as well as planning and coordinating professional development days on the alternate Fridays.
Sasha will be working with Sonja Darai to recruit commissioners for the Human Rights Commission, the Women’s Commission, and LGBT affairs. She will also be working to try and increase knowledge about the commissions: why they exist, how they work, and how to get in contact with them. She will be going to community wide events, presenting to different organizations, and organizing meetings and events for the community and for the commissioners. Sasha will also help standardize publications and role descriptions to make information more coherent and accessible to the wider Somerville Community.
Christina is working with the Medford Family Resource Coalition Council. Her project will involve enhancing community linkages among the public schools, Tufts University and the community-at-large. The project builds on the MFRC Council’s Quality Improvement Plan 2005 by addressing Goal #1 of this plan: Expand collaboration to increase resources for children and families and to reflect growing diversity. This community project will entail the research and development of a community resource directory.
Emelia is working with the Community Action Agency of Somerville to prevent homelessness in Somerville and stabilize neighborhoods by keeping people who are facing foreclosure in their homes. She will work to create an organization of Bank Tenants that meets regularly in order to learn their rights in the foreclosure process, to support one another and build solidarity, to gain access to individual legal help and to change state and national legislation to provide protections for people facing foreclosure.
Aisha is working with Groundwork Somerville on the School Yard Gardens Program. She is coordinating the work of the Schoolyard Gardens Program so as to create a sustainable, organized and well-run after-school program for the Somerville Public Schools. This position is split between planning and implementation. Aisha is involved in after-school programming as well as creating “toolkits” for the after school programs.
Cecilia is working with The Welcome Project’s Immigrant Youth Aspirations Program. She is focusing on providing support to youth and their families on education and on encouraging those families to become more involved in the civic life of the city. Cecilia will coordinate the after school homework club and work with youth on leadership development skills.
Fanna will work on a thesis about, Africa in the New World Minor where she will construct an art exhibit regarding "Immigration, Globalization and Social Change". The work will be independent and be on display by April 2010.
Anna is working with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children on the Boston School Reform Project. The BSR project works to develop an informed constituency committed to advocating for systemic reforms that improve the quality of education in BPS and offers all children the opportunity to learn at high levels. Anna will work with the Family and Community outreach Coordinator to develop, support, and strengthen parent engagement at school.
Monique is working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County. She is researching programming practices and compiling free program material to be used by BGCMC staff to plan and run activities for youth in grades K-8.
With MCAS as an ever-more important issue in Massachusetts’s schools, it is imperative that all students learn math in a way that makes sense to them–their graduation depends on it. However, not all students are able to grasp mathematical concepts through the means by which they are traditionally taught. This year, Julie is working with the Somerville Public Schools with the director of art education, Luci Prawdzick, to develop an integrated math and art curriculum for the middle schools. The goal of the project is to find a way through which students can learn math concepts through art and those concepts can be reinforced through a common set of vocabulary in each discipline. The process will include research on MCAS standards and mathematics curriculum, classroom observation, and interviewing teachers and students about the ways in which students struggle with mathematics material.
Kristen Johnson and Ann Noling
Our project was requested by a small group of remaining African American elders whose families have lived in the historic neighborhood of West Medford for generations, since the end of the Civil War. From the time of the early Afro American settlers arriving in West Medford in the mid-late 1800’s through to the 1960’s, there was little or no public reference to their ever residing here beyond municipal death records. The elders refer to this as a "lost history" which they wish to solidify with historical documentation before their passing. Within a few small blocks, these families created a unique community over the past hundred years in which residents took care of each other, education was supported, barriers were broken, and success prevailed in spite of the most challenging of economic circumstances. As the neighborhood has now transitioned from that model community and very few residents are left to remember times past, there is a strong desire to fully document this unique history.
Residents have amassed a collection of hundreds of "funeral programs" taken from the drawers and cupboards of neighbors living and deceased. These documents are rich with life stories, achievements, and photographs that can be used as primary sources. In addition, we will conduct several interviews with long-standing, highly involved residents and community leaders. The goal of our project is to create a more comprehensive portrait of the hundreds of West Medford residents who have contributed to African American history and serve as a model for communities today. To this end, the publication will include a comprehensive list of past residents of the community in addition to a number of more in depth profiles of residents whose stories are especially emblematic, and which collectively tell the story of this truly special community. The final product will not only be a record of this community’s history but will be the culmination of a partnership between the African-American residents of West Medford and the broader Tufts community.
Dean’s Senior Year Tisch Scholar Project, he is continuing his work with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Diversion Program. The Juvenile Diversion Program, which is currently implemented in over 22 cities and towns, is designed to work with first-time offenders and their families to provide an alternative to prosecution. The diversion program allows a juvenile who has committed a first minor offense the opportunity to complete a program and/or community service instead of having to go through the formal juvenile court system. If the juvenile is able to satisfy all of the requirements of her constructive sentence, there will be no further proceedings, and the arrest will be eliminated from the juvenile’s record. The hope of the program is that in giving a juvenile this opportunity, she will have a constructive experience, and see that she is able to make a positive impact in the community, instead of the negative path she was heading down.
Dean’s responsibilities involve running the entire Diversion Program through the Cambridge Court system. This involves being in charge of weekly case loads of reading the police reports and figuring out preliminary sentences, going to the meetings with the juvenile and their families, hearing the cases and talking with appropriate stipulations with the juveniles and parents, and ultimately coming up with a constructive sentence, along with other conditions that may be decided upon on a case-by-case basis. Dean reaches out to and establishes community partnerships with local non-profits and organizations, within each of the communities, where juveniles will be able to complete their community service hours.
The Mystic Learning Center is an after school program that operates out of the Mystic Public Housing Development in Somerville. Of the 40 children at the center, many of them have social, emotional or behavioral special needs. Christina’s role is to see how the center can better support these children and their individual needs. She does this by working one-on-one with the children and getting to know about their strengths, as well as what they would like to work on. This year, the program is further expanding the volunteer program in order to allow all of the children with special needs, as well as some that do not, to have a one-on-one volunteer. Christina will run a series of staff trainings on topic such as ADD and autism, as well as behavior management. Another goal for this year is to apply for state funding in order to have more resources for the special needs population at the MLC.
Namibia’s project is managing a program through the Cambridge Health Alliance called "Latinas Living Better". The goal of this project is teach girls in grades 5 through 8 how to live healthier by exercising. She teaches salsa-cardio workshops every week and facilitates health and nutrition workshops for the girls. Latinas Living Better was started due to the high rates of youth obesity seen by the Cambridge Health Alliance in the Latino population of Somerville. Their mission is to minimize this high percentage by teaching girls at a young age how to take proper care of their bodies. The goal is that the girls will encourage their mothers to get involved through some of the mother-daughter workshops the program has prepared and this will in turn motivate entire families to stay healthy.
Jamie Love-Nichols and Tomas Valdes
Jamie and Tomas are working with the City of Somerville in the Housing Division on a Complete Count Committee to get a more complete count of Hard to Count communities in Somerville for the 2010 Census. The funds obtained from the government for education, infrastructure, and social services are based on the number of people counted in the census, that is why the count is so vital to every community.
Elliott is working with the Boston Student Advisory Council. BSAC helps students vocalize their concerns within the Boston Public Schools and works on addressing those issues through specific projects and policy development. Elliott will be working on the 2nd annual BSAC alumni event; he supports students in writing for Teens in Print and will work with graduating seniors to provide support as they transition from high school to college. He will organize college visits, workshops on application prep and other activities for youth around college access.
Lisnerva is working with the Somerville Public Schools to develop a comprehensive marketing campaign that will invite parents/guardians to be more involved in their child’s education, and help families and community members feel more informed about the progress of the Somerville Public Schools.
Jessica will be working with the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), which is a voluntary, self-reporting ranking system for colleges and universities to measure their campus sustainability efforts. Formed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in 2007, STARS is a relatively new system. However, STARS provides a unique opportunity to create a standard of measurement for sustainability in higher education, especially in midst of numerous "green" rankings by organizations such as the Sustainable Endowments Institute, Sierra Club, and the Princeton Review. As a result, the Tufts Office of Sustainability will be evaluating the scope and effectiveness of STARS as well as using STARS to measure campus sustainability. The hope is to be able to use STARS as a starting point to facilitate coordinated sustainability practices throughout various departments on Tufts campus.
Duncan will work with the Somerville Human Rights Commission to achieve its first quorum in three years. The HRC is an important interface between city government and society, and Duncan is working to revive it.
Jane is a third-year scholar currently working on her International Relations Senior Honors Thesis as her Scholar project. The thesis takes account of the events that took place during Japan’s colonization of Korea (1910-1945), more specifically during the time of Cultural Rule in the 1920s. Jane analyzes the "modernization" of Seoul’s landscape and the Korean intellectual minority’s conflicting reaction to Seoul’s colonial modernity. She also ties in her interviews with her maternal grandmother, who lived through the time period and had inspired her to take on the project. This is a topic that has not been studied adequately in the English language, and Jane hopes that her project will add to America’s Korean Studies discipline.
Alice will be joining the Immigrant Service Providers Group for a third year of collaboration. We are planning the annual fall flu vaccine clinic and immigrant health fair. The vaccine clinic will provide community members with both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine. We are working to expand the range of services and information that will be provided at the flu clinic, which will include the presence of Tufts Dental School, the Boston School of Occupational Therapy, the New England College of Optometry, the Cambridge Health Alliance, Lift Somerville, Network Health (assistance in signing up for health insurance) and many others.
Alice will also be working on an Administrative Supplement to the Clinical Translational Science Institute at Tufts to develop a curriculum to develop the capacity of community participation in medical research by providing training on practices and norms of academic research. This is an exciting opportunity that will allow her to gain experience in curriculum-development through a community-academic collaboration. Additionally, she will continue to be involved in the Liaison Interpreters Program of Somerville (LIPS) – it has been exhilarating to watch the program grow and evolve through the last two years, and she is looking forward to her third year.
Samantha will work with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, a private non-profit organization dedicated to being a voice for children who face significant barriers to equal educational and life opportunities. Through Mass Advocates, Samantha has been placed at the Trotter School, a public elementary school in Boston, doing community and parent outreach work. This entails organizing coffee hours and workshops for parents on how they can be effective advocates for their children’s education, designing a college awareness day for the 4th and 5th graders, planning a college tour for the 5th graders, and analyzing parent survey data to better understand the correlation between parents’ levels of education and their children’s academic status/standing in order to do effective targeted outreach work.
Sarah will be planning the "Inside the Activist’s Study" event series in conjunction with the Communications and Media Studies department at Tufts. The event on March 9 will explore how media is used for social change by using an interview format similar to the popular television show, "Inside the Actor’s Studio." The inaugural participants will be Amy Goodman (the host of Democracy Now!) and David Goodman (contributing writer for Mother Jones). They coauthored "The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them."
Daniela Valenzuela and Angela Lam
Daniela and Angela are working on Census on Campus 2010. They are promoting the Census Bureau’s efforts to ensure everybody is counted on April 1, 2010. Important federal funding, social services, and Congressional reapportionment are all based on the census count. They are focusing on students on the Tufts campus because college students are one of the hard to count populations named by the Census Bureau. College students need to be aware that they are required to fill out their own Census forms, and not their parents. International students, undocumented immigrants and permanent residents all need to fill out the simple questionnaire; it will take just 10 minutes for 10 questions. It is important for the government to know how many students are in an area in order to provide the right amount of crucial government services like law enforcement, public transportation, and educational funding. In addition, the project will include reaching out to the community to raise awareness when they get closer to the census count. Daniela and Angela will form a coalition of student groups that will sign on to support efforts in the spring. They will raise awareness by holding information booths, fun activities, food fairs, and dorm competitions.
Sue Yan Yuen
The goal of Sue Yan’s Youth Empowerment Project Against Domestic Violence is to empower Asian American youth with the tools and leadership skills to become advocates and educators on issues surrounding dating violence and domestic violence. They seek to address these issues in their own communities as well as to provide a safe outlet for creativity and opinion by developing a photo-essay project with Asian American teens.
The project consists of two tasks. The first task is an after school Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) with Asian American Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK.) The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) of the Asian American Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK) is a project designed to engage teens in addressing issues of dating violence through leadership skills, community organizing, and awareness building. The mission of YEP is to provide a space for teens to talk about issues pertaining to the realities of being a young adult in today’s world. The goal of the program is to empower teens to become advocates on issues of domestic violence within their perspective communities and to become agents of change.
The second task is a photo-essay project with YEP Participants. The Photo-essay Project aims to provide an outlet for YEP participants and alumni to express their opinion on healthy relationships, domestic violence, Asian American history and identity, and "isms" such as racism and other oppressions by developing photographic projects with them. In addition to reflective journals, each participate is given a disposable camera to capture several images in response to what they learnt each week. These photographs and journals will be compiled into an outreach booklet to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Read the 2010-2011 project descriptions.
Read the 2008-2009 project descriptions.