Every year, students in the Tisch Scholars program work on projects to create positive change and build capacity in Tufts’ partner communities. Below are the Tisch Scholars projects for the 2010-2011 school year.
Alon Agai, Philosophy, ’12
Last semester, Alon worked with The Somerville Committee on Suicide Prevention and Mental Health. He helped the Committee put together a museum exhibit and worked to review the success of the exhibit as well as the continued subsidiary efforts of the Committee.
Jennica Allen, Community Health and Child Development, ‘11
In the fall of 2010, Jennica worked at the Boston Public Health Commission’s Center for Health Equity and Social Justice, a part of the Boston Public Health Commission. Her work addressed a number of issues related to health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.
Laura Bernescu, International Relations and Spanish, ’11
Laura worked in the fall as one of the organizers for the first annual Senior Scholar Service Learning trip to Treasure Beach, Jamaica. Laura worked on identifying community partners and on planning logistics for the trip, which occurred over winter break, in January of 2011.
Anjuli Branz, Psychology and Sociology, ’13
Anjuli interned with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, helping run the Juvenile Diversion Program, which works with first-time offenders and their families to provide an alternative to prosecution, through the completion of a diversion contract and community service hours as well as any other programs deemed necessary. Anjuli does community outreach, making connections to non-profits where juveniles may complete their required service hours as well as have a meaningful service experience. Most recently, she has worked to create a service education component of the program so that juveniles enter community organizations ready to learn from their volunteer hours.
Sasha deBeausset, Anthropology, ’12
Sasha has been assisting with the Welcome Project’s Parents’ Group which is a community-based initiative to get immigrant parents more involved in their children’s schools. In addition to direct outreach and Spanish and Portuguese interpretation, she has focused mostly on using oral histories and story-telling as an effective tool for knowledge transfer and a sharing of experiences to Somerville residents and decision-makers. She has interviewed and photographed parents involved in the Parents’ Group and is currently working on expanding the collection of photos and interviews to make into a book that will become an informational and advocacy tool to support the efforts of the Parents’ Group.
Brendan Dillon, Biopsychology, ’13
The Mystic Learning Center is an after school program that operates out of the Mystic Public Housing Development in Somerville. Many of the 40 children at the center have social, emotional or behavioral special needs. Brendan’s role is to see how the center can better support these children and their individual needs, by working one-on-one with them and getting to know their strengths, and interests. Additionally, Brendan coordinates T.A.S.T.E. (Tufts After School Teaching and Enrichment), a program in which each child at the center is matched with a Tufts student who functions as his or her “buddy.” These Tufts buddies come to the center once a week and work academically with the child with whom they are paired, as well as spend time with the child as a friend.
Rosario Dominguez, International Relations, ’13
In the spring of 2010, Rosario founded the Student Immigrant Movement in Boston and became involved with the immigrant rights movement. With SIM, she advocated for the Dream Act alongside intrepid leaders who would benefit from the legislation. In the fall of 2010, she started working with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition where she created voter guides for MIRA’s New Americans Vote Campaign, helped organize MIRA’s 15th Annual Immigrants Day at the Statehouse, and collaborated with the Student Immigrant Movement and MIRA to rally for the Massachusetts In-State Tuition bill for undocumented youth.
Leah Effron, Child Development and Community Health, ’13
Leah is working with Groundwork Somerville as an environmental educator, in addition to working on curriculum development and outreach. The environmental education component of her work includes working as an after-school garden club leader for grades K-2 and as a Maple Syrup project educator at the Somerville public library and in second grade classrooms throughout Somerville. Leah is creating garden-based curriculum that is directly tied to the Massachusetts curriculum standards to be placed on the Groundwork Somerville website. Leah is also working with Brooks Elementary in Medford on creating an established school yard garden program through professional development seminars, community organizing and curriculum development.
Julie Gray, American Studies and English, ‘11
Julie is writing a thesis on the following topic: Increasingly, districts are phasing out vocational education programs as the emphasis on standardized testing and measurable academic skills becomes stronger. Yet, these programs often fill an educational void for working class students, teaching them a specific, applicable skill set and locating their culture and knowledge within the institution of the school. Julie’s thesis explores how vocational education programs positively impact working class students’ engagement. To investigate this claim, she collected qualitative data consisting of a five-month period of classroom observations and interviews with teachers and students in the drafting and machine technology shops in the Somerville High School Center for Career and Technical Education. Drawing upon pedagogical theories of student engagement of sociological theories of cultural capital and reproduction, this investigation demonstrates that because vocational education programs cater to working class youth in a way that traditional academic programs do not, they has a positive impact on working class student engagement. Pedagogically, vocational classrooms utilize the classroom-business model, authentic assessment, and active, independent student learning to provide students with applicable skill sets and tie abstract academic concepts to the real world. Sociologically, vocational education programs recognize the importance and value of working class cultural capital while simultaneously teaching students aspects of the dominant cultural capital that they need in order to advance socially and economically. Finally, vocational education programs provide a physical space within the school in which working class culture and capital is promoted, protected, and appreciated.
Matthew Hibert, Biochemisty, Pre-Med, ’11
Massachusetts General Hospital: Matt is working in a lab in the Infectious Disease department at MGH, researching a new transplantation technique of insulin-producing cells as a potential treatment/cure for Type I diabetes.
Ilana Hosios, International Relations, ’13
Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition: In the fall, Ilana helped with the research, implementation and organizing of the program to register, educate and bring new citizens to the polls during the election season, so they could become fully engaged in the political process. This spring, she has been compiling an information package for undocumented students on higher education- the options available, the application process, and the financial aid process. She is also assisting with the planning of the Annual Immigrants’ Day at the Statehouse.
Kristen Johnson, International Relations, ’12
After returning from spending the fall semester studying abroad in Ghana, Kristen started working with ACE (Alternatives for Community and Environment) in the Spring of 2011. She has been working as a Development and Communications Intern, focused on connecting the local members and ACE together and also working on their annual fundraiser.
Christina LaSala, Child Development, ’11
In the fall semester, Christina interned at the New England Center for Children, a school for children with autism in Southborough, MA. There, she worked closely with 4 non-verbal boys with autism, ages 10-12. She was exposed to the technology that these boys used to communicate and became fascinated with this field. In the spring, she worked on a project for the international “Autism Connects” student competition, to design technological solutions to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder better connect with the world around them. Christina gathered a group of Tufts students in the areas of child development, engineering, and engineering psychology to design an iPhone app for use by people with ASD to aid in making decisions around personal safety.
Allison Lawrence, International Relations and Community Health, ’11
Alli is working at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights (BCRHHR) at Boston Medical Center. Through interviews with refugee and asylum patients, many of whom are survivors of torture and trauma, she is collecting recipes from around the world. The final product will be a fundraising cookbook that connects to larger themes of empowerment, home, motherhood, and the shared culture of food and eating.
Jamie Love-Nichols, Biology, ‘12
Jamie has worked closely with the Office of Sustainability (OOS) to create a survey around issues of sustainability within Tufts. The purpose of the survey is to understand whether students perceive Tufts University as being committed to environmental sustainability and whether that affects their personal practices around sustainability. It also gauges whether it is a matter of students knowing or not knowing what is sustainable and what Tufts is already doing. The data will be used mostly for purposes of OOS service delivery and to convey findings to Tufts administrators.
Yun Luo, Civil Engineering, ’12
Luo is working with Green Initiative at YouthBuild USA this year. She did outreach to programs to determine their interests for green building charrettes, and is applying to Enterprise Foundation for financial assistance to organize charrettes for selected programs. She also researches LEED-certified projects and will be writing a report on different green building certification standards, including case studies of best practices. She is hoping that her work will help motivate programs to pursue green building, engage more students to discuss their vision of sustainability, and capture success stories in YouthBuild Community.
Elliott McCarthy, Sociology, ‘12
Elliott has undertaken a variety of projects that have all been organized around community organizing and engagement. In the beginning of the year, he organized a project to distribute Rainbow Pride Flags all over campus as part of Coming Out Day and Ally Coming Out Week. During the second semester, Elliott worked with CAFE, the Interfaith Group on campus to organize a week long service initiative in which he provided direct service to the homeless population of Boston. Elliott is also working with a group of students at Tufts Hillel to organize a Day of Service in the fall of 2011.
Jessica Oh, Environmental Studies and Biology, ‘11
The European corn borer moth (ECB) is a major agricultural pest with outbreaks worth $2 billion in crop losses and control each year. ECB populations also vary in voltinism (generations per year) and are either bivoltine (2 generations/year), or univoltine (1 generation/year), thus these populations are temporally isolated for reproduction. Voltinism is caused by differences in postdiapause development (Pdd) – the time until ECB larvae emerge as adults in the spring and summer. My senior honors thesis research will narrow down the DNA region that contains the gene responsible for Pdd. Using this genetic information, it will be possible to determine whether field-collected ECB individuals have a fast or slow Pdd allele (bivoltine or univoltine). This is information is useful for farmers in terms of developing an integrated pest management plan.
This research holds an active citizenship component, as it provides an opportunity to educate farmers and the public about controlling this common agricultural pest. Through the ECB research, we anticipate on developing a method to predict ECB infestations 10 months in advance that will be disseminated to local farmers. In addition, my thesis advising professor, Erik Dopman, will be presenting ECB research at the 2011 summer conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA). I will help to create a presentation for the conference, and this presentation will then become the template for future talks at farmers’ conferences. The overall goal is to educate farmers about better agricultural practices that are informed by scientific research and also to improve public scientific literacy.
Cassie Pastorelle, Spanish and Environmental Studies, ’12
Cassie is working with the Eagle Eye Institute in Somerville. Eagle Eye is partnering with the Healey Boys and Girls Club to provide environmental education programs for their youth.
Eric Peckham, Economics and Political Science, ’13
Eric is developing the undergraduate-managed Institute for Political Citizenship (IPC) at Tisch College. Its mission is to develop active and educated leaders in public policy by facilitating intellectual discussion of political and social issues and increasing undergraduate involvement at all levels of the policymaking process and their understanding of its implications.
Terhys Persad, Women’s Studies, ’11
Terhys’ thesis focuses on women working in factories, specifically Black and Latina women who work in poultry packaging factories in US southern rural towns. In her thesis, she examines the abusive relationship between the Poultry Companies and the workers, specifically in regards to labor rights, health, and environmental violence.
Chloe Poon, Community Health and Chinese, ’11
Chloe works as a Communications and Marketing Intern at the Asian Task Force against Domestic Violence (ATASK). She provides administrative assistance to the Development team. She also sends out a monthly newsletter for ATASK, and helps to promote various fundraising events and drafts their press releases. In addition, she helps with the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) in the Outreach and Education Department, which focuses on promoting awareness about race, gender, and many other forms of oppressions in society, and how they are all interlinked with dating violence.
Neethu Putta, International Relations and Philosophy ’13
Neethu is working to create “The E3 Project,” an after-school program that will work in Tufts community high schools to empower students to become active agents of change in their communities on issues surrounding human rights and education. The program will engage university students with high school students in their local communities to foster globally conscientious students and basic civic engagement skills by helping students understand their own educational experiences and the ways that marginalized populations are affected by barriers to education. The program will use Barakat, a local non-profit that works to empower women and children in South Asia through education, as a lens to explore this issue and ways it can be addressed from abroad. Then, the program will turn its focus locally to address the barriers to education that exist within local communities.
Erica Satin-Hernandez, American Studies, ’13
Erica is working with the Welcome Project with the YUM Campaign, a part of the Welcome Project’s goal to strengthen civic and community life in Somerville by diminishing racism and empowering Somerville’s refugee and immigrant groups. Specifically, Erica is working with a campaign to promote immigrant-run restaurants in the city. She works with the YUM Committee to develop a clear plan for the year to accomplish the goals for our YUM campaign and event, helps convene YUM committee meetings and tracks progress toward reaching goals, works directly with immigrant families (youth and adults) who are interested in participating in the project, contacts YUM restaurant owners and promotes YUM restaurants through the organization’s website as well as social media.
Elizabeth Shrobe, Psychology, ’13
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center: Libby is helping to connect Asian American youths to resources for better college preparation. Along with organizing college tours of local colleges and universities, Elizabeth runs college preparation workshops, and provides educational materials on college access and preparation at the center.
Annie Sloan, American Studies, ’13
Annie is working with Generation Citizen, an organization that works to provide civics education in schools. Through this program, students expand their understanding of the history and processes of American democracy, as well as the meaning and value of engaged citizenship. They become proficient in a core set of skills and competencies required for effective political action, come to believe in their capacity to make a difference, and recognize their potential roles as catalysts for change.
Anna Smith, American Studies, Economics, and Spanish, ’11
American Studies Thesis: Anna’s thesis explores the economic, social, and cultural roles of Latino immigrant-owned restaurants in Somerville, Massachusetts. The narrative privileges the voices of Latino immigrant entrepreneurs and constructs a contemporary history of Somerville as an immigrant city. Using economic anthropological theories of the “embeddedness” of economy within social and cultural settings, she posits that these restaurants serve as multifaceted institutions of economic incorporation, promoters of multiple cultural identities, and centers of geographical and virtual communities. In addition, Somerville’s Latino immigrant-owned restaurants exist within a system of neighborhoods changing due to gentrification, transportation, and demographic changes that influences their capacities for growth, change, and survival.
Minyoung Song, Philosophy, ’13
Chelang’at Surum, Economics, ’13
LIFT-Lawyer Project: Minyoung Song served as a liaison between the clients of LIFT-Somerville, a social service agency that assists people in poverty to become self-sufficient, and the lawyers serving in the Greater Boston area who have agreed to provide pro bono legal services. Her role entailed matching LIFT’s clients in need of legal representation with appropriate lawyers.
Kara Takasaki, Sociology and English, ’11
Kara is writing a Senior Honors Thesis in Sociology. She is investigating the value of intimacy in relationships by focusing on the dynamic interaction between the non-kin relationship of friendship and the kinship relations of marriage and family. Kara found that the value of individual dyadic relationships were enhanced for participants when all relationship e.g. acquaintances, friendship, marital, romantic, family were understood as different but equally valuable types with distinct strengths and weaknesses that have the potential to positively influence each other in an individual’s community of support. The findings of her study are significant for her interest in active citizenship because of their implications for community building and institutional support for communities and civic engagement throughout the life course in American society.
Tabias Wilson, American Studies and Sociology, ’13
LGBT Center Tufts – Focusing on issues of intersectionality between sexuality and race within Tufts community, as well as greater Boston. Efforts have focused on LGBT outreach and ally education in Boston high schools, Greek Life and Tufts classrooms. Results of direct organization and activism resulted in our first Tufts LGBT-Ally Solidarity day: the hanging of flags across campus in response to national LGBT suicides. Breakthroughs in collaboration with Greek Life led to the first LGBT-Ally Soulfood Dinner hosted in a fraternity, Theta Chi Epsilon. Other collaborations have been hosted with organizations that include the nation’s first national LGBT group of color; Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC) as well student groups such as Harvard’s Gay, Lesbian or Whatever (GLOW) and Tuft’s Queer Students of Color & Allies (QSOCA). One result of on-going networking includes the newly organized group of Boston area LGBT groups as well as the joint planning of the Tufts (and others!) LGBT-Ally Dance.
Alyssa Wohlfahrt, Biology, ’13
Alyssa designed the “Face Value” project – an effort to help spread awareness of the issue of homelessness that plagues thousands people today in Massachusetts and millions each year in the United States. She and a team of Tufts students took photographic portraits of individuals who are currently living without the security of their own shelter. The Somerville Homeless Coalition supports these individuals with the daily struggles that they face and provides them with food, shelter, or permanent housing. The goal of this exhibit is for viewers to be able to see the beauty and humanity of the subjects, and to you take a few moments to think about homelessness and the millions of lives it affects.
Sue Yan Yuen, Tufts/SMFA Program: Art History and Studio Art, ’11
Yen is assisting in the curatorial process, marketing, and publicity for the W/Y Gallery at Chinese Progressive Association in Chinatown Boston. Yen worked with students to create a documentary photography exhibit at the Chinese Progressive Association titled, “In-State Tuition & the DREAM Act: A gallery exhibit about what it means to be an Undocumented Student in the United States. She is also leading her own photo documentary project, Faces of Chinatown, in collaboration with a community partner organization, the Chinese Progressive Association. This project will illustrate the diversity within Chinatown and bring the community together after decades of gentrification.