Every year, students in the Tisch Scholars program work on projects to create positive change and build capacity in Tufts’ partner communities. Below are this year’s Tisch Scholars projects.
Lauren Augustine, International Relations and Community Health, ’12
Lauren is expanding LIFT’s healthcare-related resources and creating a training program for advocates on the information that they should discuss with clients regarding access and use of healthcare and insurance. This will involve a lot of work around implementation of information sharing with advocates and clients as that is more than half the battle; getting the resources is relatively simple, but getting them used is hard.
Ramzi Babouder-Matta, International Relations, ’14
Ramzi is assisting in the redevelopment of the ACDC’s Chinatown Community Walking Tours, which provides students, corporate groups, and other organizations with a view of Chinatown’s cultural and social character and history. The project consists of remodeling the tour itself and the features involved, developing a solid roster of reliable tour guides, and reaching out to new places to market the tour—as well as groups that have taken the tour in the past.
Alexandra Beretta, Economics, ’13
Melanie Papadopoulos, International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies, ’12
The E3 Project: Educate, Engage, Empower consists of two parts, in the fall semester, a quidnunc course taught in the Tufts University Experimental College, followed in the spring semester by an after-school service-learning curriculum facilitated by the trained Tufts students (quidnuncers) for high school students. This program thus seeks to open a dialogue amongst Tufts students about human rights, but more specifically the right to education. This dialogue is disseminated to high school students at Prospect Hill Academy in Cambridge in the second semester. As part of the curriculum, high school students will complete a service-learning project that will align with Prospect Hill Academy’s service-learning expectations as well as Barakat’s fundraising and awareness-raising goals.
Bianca Blakesley, Clinical Psychology, ’14
Bianca will promote a college access program and foster a college-attending culture by providing youth at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center– Oak Street Youth Center with comprehensive college preparation resources, including tours, workshops, and financial aid assistance.
Elizabeth Brauer, Undecided, ’14
As a volunteer coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of Medford, Biz is recruiting and organizing volunteers. She will focus on cultivating a consistent and committed group of volunteers from Tufts to hopefully be matched in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America one-to-one mentorship program. Ideally, students would commit to come to the club for two hours each week to spend time with a child, help tutor during Power Hour, and have some time to mentor. In addition, Biz hopes to encourage groups or organizations of Tufts students to come to the club to run workshop-type programs (i.e., a sports team teaching a clinic).
John Brennan, Economics, ’14
John is working with a Boston-based startup, BalbusSpeech, to build and launch the philanthropic branch of their company. BalbusSpeech is an education-oriented business that just released their first product, Speech4Good. Speech4Good is a speech therapy application running on the iOS platform. Administering the program, free of charge, he will pilot a program this semester in one Medford and one Somerville public school. This will give students in need access to free and accessible speech therapy.
Ryan Clapp, Sociology, ’12
Since 2010, Ryan has been working on the board of Tufts Education Society (TES). TES is a Tufts Community Union–funded student organization that was started in the fall of 2010, with the intention to be:
· A space to network with fellow students and get plugged into organizations and events both on and off campus, internships, etc.
· A forum to discuss, question, and challenge practices and assumptions about education-related issues, especially as they relate to a chosen semester theme
· A place where students are given the skills and opportunities to put their ideas into action
In only a year’s time the group has raised its profile considerably, and has partnered with other student and community partners to put on great events. There are still many steps to take, however, to ensure the continued operation of the club.
Jordan Dashow, International Relations, ’14
As a Tisch Scholar at the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS), Jordan serves as an advocate and community educator for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program(LIHEAP) and educates the public about the LIHEAP Fuel Assistance program. He works directly with clients in order to guide them through the application process and helps those who qualify gain utility discounts and weatherization.
Sasha deBeausset, Anthropology, ’12
Sasha is writing a senior honors thesis in Anthropology entitled “The Role of Maize in Forming and Maintaining Community in K’iche’ Guatemala”. She conducted fieldwork in the indigenous community of Arrollo Sacasiguan using asset-based ethnographic research methods. The combination of Sasha’s academic interest in Nutritional Anthropology and her passion for community-based development in Guatemala led her to discover the importance of finding collaborative solutions for chronic food insecurity in Guatemala. She plans on finishing her thesis in May of 2012, and translating it into Spanish and K’iche’ before she returns to Guatemala to work on food security initiatives.
Cristina Devia, Economics and French, ’12
The College Access Mentorship Initiative (CAMI) is a joint project of the Lincoln Filene Center for Community Partnerships and the Tisch Scholars program at Tufts University. CAMI provides college-access support and resources to eighth and ninth grade students from Tufts’ host communities. Throughout the year, CAMI will organize interactive college visits and workshops that prepare students for the college experience and application process.
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, he 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.
Emelia Dillon, International Relations, ’12
Emma is working with the Brazilian Women’s Group in Allston, Boston, an organization that promotes political and cultural awareness and contributes to the development of the Brazilian community. She is working with her supervisor to help promote civic engagement in the Brazilian community in preparation for the upcoming presidential elections.
Leah Effron, Child Development and Community Health, ’13
Leah is working with the PACT (Prevention and Access to Treatment and Care) Project, a community health organization dedicated to working with the hardest-to-reach patients, specifically those who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, poverty, and HIV/AIDS. She is working on the PACT survey project, conducting surveys for patients enrolled in their HIV/AIDS management program. These surveys last 1-2 hours and are conducted in the patients’ homes, a PACT office, or another space that is convenient for the patient. The surveys deal with adherence to medication, substance abuse history, sexual history, HIV knowledge, feelings of mental and physical wellbeing, satisfaction with the PACT project, and experience with health insurance.
Caroline Geiger, Spanish and Community Health, ’13
Respond, Inc. partners with individuals, families and communities to end the serious public health issue of domestic violence. Respond, Inc. strives to achieve its mission through prevention, intervention, advocacy and direct services that promote safe, healthy relationships. Caroline works closely with staff on this research-based and outcomes-measurement project.
Chelsea Grayson, English, ’12
As part of Chelsea’s work with Jane Cohen and the Somerville high school photography students, Chelsea is addressing issues of social justice through documentary photography. She creates comprehensive workshops on documentary photography, so that students understand this type of media, which they will then use to address issues that are relevant on a global, local, and personal level. Working one-on-one with the students allows her to be their guide through the whole process. Chelsea helps them focus on their own identities and how their identities fit into the bigger narrative. After taking photos, the students start the editing process by scanning the images and deciding which ones will be displayed in the Tufts Slater Concourse gallery during the month of April. Chelsea is also interested in helping seniors in the photography class build their portfolios if they want to continue to create artwork in college or just in general after they graduate. All of the work relates to one overarching theme. Chelsea hopes this project helps students to articulate social concerns and advocacy in both a visual and oratory way.
Wen Hoe, International Relations and History, ’14
As part of Wen’s work with Respond, Inc., she attends domestic violence training sessions in order to gain skills that will help her when working with domestic violence survivors. Wen co-facilitates groups at the shelter and the community services center. Specifically, she co-facilitates drop-in parent-and-child–directed play groups in order to increase the parent-child bond and strengthen and deepen the relationships. She also co-facilitates psycho-educational groups on healthy relationships and the dynamics of domestic violence in order to provide support and education to children, youth, and/or teens. Along with this, Wen co-facilitates parenting-skills groups to educate survivors on the impact of domestic violence on their children and on positive parenting and discipline techniques. She is also developing and managing a teen, peer mentoring program at the shelter to develop leadership skills amongst teens that have witnessed domestic violence and provide support to children and youth witnesses. Finally, she is recruiting and managing Somerville teens to organize events for the month of February, teen dating awareness month, to engage them in community activism and service projects.
Kristen Johnson, International Relations, ’12
Chelang’at Surum, Economics, ’13
Kristen and Chela are currently working on an international research project based in Zimbabwe. They are leading a team of students at Tufts, who will be coordinating the field research to be done in Zimbabwe. The partner organization is USAP Cares, an organization that works to connect high-achieving Zimbabwean students to the needs in their local communities. The research is focused on understandingthe impact of national wind turbine projects in order to promote sustainable behaviors in rural communities.
Jenna Kertz, International Relations and German, ’14
Jenna works with the teachers and staff of the Newton Learning Center’s G-Age Math and English Program at the Kwong Kow Chinese School in Chinatown. Through the use of surveys, classroom observation, and personal meetings with KKCS teachers and staff, Jenna is working to understand the program’s overall operation, as well as standardize various procedures, including class preparation, material selection, homework assignment, testing, and general class management. Using this information, Jenna will create a Teacher Training Guide for the Newton Learning Center’s G-Age Math and English Program.
Claire Lamneck, Quantitative Economics, ’14
The YUM Project supports immigrant-run restaurants in Somerville through promotion in the annual YUM event and selling of YUM discount cards. Claire has approached several Somerville restaurants in order to get them involved in YUM. She is also selling YUM cards and developing a sustainable and successful marketing plan. Moreover, she is helping organize the YUM 2012 committee that will play an important role in organizing the annual event and reaching out to key financial supporters.
Allie Can Lei, Undecided, ’14
As part of Allie’s work with the Somerville Chamber of Commerce, she is coming up with a visual presentation with extensive notes on ways to put Somerville on course in establishing a 1-to-1 job to workforce ratio. This presentation will quantify and describe the current job base and workforce population in Somerville, develop a methodology for comparing and contrasting the characteristics of the ongoing job base and the workforce population, and determine the additional jobs required to achieve a 1-1 ratio. She outlines priorities and methods for creating these jobs.
Alex Lis-Perlis, American Studies, ’13
Alex works with Community Change Inc. (CCI), a non-profit organization that does anti-racism work in Boston. Her objective is to gain insight into the field of anti-racism work and knowledge through an internship at CCI. She has become an asset to their programming and events, while gaining skills and resources relating to this passion.
Lura Long, Child Development and Community Health, ’13
Navigating the health care system and accessing basic needs can be very challenging for new immigrants, especially for survivors of torture or other human rights violations. As a Refugee Patient Navigator at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, Lura assists in giving asylum seekers further autonomy over their own lives by increasing their awareness of BCRHHR’s services and those of the greater Boston Medical Center. Specifically, she conducts part of the intake process, administers PTSD and Hopkins Scales and escorts clients to appointments within Boston Medical Center. Many of BCRHHR’s clients do not have legal clearance to work in the U.S. and rely entirely on family, friends or organizations like BCRHHR for all their basic needs. Therefore, Lura is also collaborating with product providers to increase donations of feminine hygiene products for BCRHHR’s female clients with the intent of relieving one of their many financial stressors.
Jamie Love-Nichols, Biology and American Studies, ’12
Jamie is writing an American Studies Thesis titled “Eugenics and a Lack of Civil Rights in Genetic Medicine: The Case of PKU.” In her thesis she is examining how mandated newborn screening of an array of disorders, some of which are untreatable, as well as expanded genetic screening without informed consent forwards a eugenics agenda of creating the “perfect” population. In order to address such civil rights violations in expanded genetic screening, Jamie is lobbying Massachusetts state and national legislature to pass laws requiring informed consent for genetic screening. She is also distributing informational materials about prenatal and newborn genetic screening programs to prospective mothers.
Yun Luo, Civil Engineering, ’12
Yun works with the Tufts University International Center to support international students by focusing on their specific needs. In particular, she is creating a mentorship program for students on scholarship and is organizing a series of panels to address their needs. She will also create a video by interviewing international alumni and gathering a variety of perspectives and advice for graduating international students. Also, to sustain the program, she researches participants’ interests in leading the project after she graduates.
Elliott McCarthy, Sociology, ’12
For his senior honors thesis, Elliott is exploring the realities behind food access and inequality in the neighborhoods south of Boston, including Roxbury, Dorchester, and South Boston. Through his research, he hopes to find out if food deserts are a real thing or are in fact a construction of the upper class and the ivory tower. To do this, he is undertaking a three-fold study to a) construct a GIS map of Boston’s food access, b) conduct a random sample interview of the neighborhood residents to learn about how they access food, and c) to conduct interviews with people engaged in the community gardening movement. The results of this study will hopefully be used to affect change at the policy level as well as for the non-profits who work with these issues on a daily basis.
Cassie Pastorelle, Spanish and Environmental Studies, ’12
This spring, Cassie will be continuing her work with Eagle Eye Institute in Somerville. Eagle Eye is partnering with the Healey Boys and Girls Club to provide environmental education programs for their youth. Cassie will be coordinating a seven-week urban community stewardship program, or “Eagle Club,” which aims to increase environmental awareness and stewardship in a group of Healey Club youth. Eagle Club is a weekly program that features environmental themes and guest community members who are active in the natural resource field. It also includes a Learn About Forests trip, in which urban youth experience a day of learning and fun at a natural site away from the city. The program culminates in a stewardship project, in which young people do environmentally-related service to give back to their community. Cassie has been working with Eagle Eye since the spring of 2011 and looks forward to engaging with urban youth and nature.
Neethu Putta, International Relations and Philosophy, ’13
The E3 Project: Educate, Engage, Empower is composed of two parts: a quidnunc course in the Tufts University Experimental College during the fall semester, in which students can earn 0.5 credits, and an after-school service learning curriculum for students at Somerville High School during the spring semester. Neethu collaborates with the Tisch College and the Cambridge nonprofit organization Barakat, which strives to educate women and children in South and Central Asia. The purpose of the quidnunc course is to provide members of the project with a chance to finalize the curriculum through their own investigation of the presented issues, as well as through the creation of a high school manual for the students in the spring semester. Each student is responsible for learning and “mastering” one section of the curriculum, and practicing teaching it during the quidnunc course. Each student then teaches his or her section of the curriculum to the high school students in the spring.
Erica Satin-Hernandez, Community Health and American Studies, ’13
Erica’s goal is to understand the needs and desires of the Mystic Projects community in regards to physical activity, and to understand the barriers which stop people from exercising. With the study on immigrant obesity well under way, there are many other aspects of health, besides nutrition, that have yet to be explored in the community, one of which being physical activity in relation to health and obesity prevention. In order to study this in the Mystic community, Erica researches the Mystic community demographics and the methods of physical activity in other cultures and countries to understand better what might be missing here. Now that she has educated herself about basic issues, she meets with organizations who are working on similar or related projects to ensure that an issue is being attacked from all sides. She is also working with a thesis student on a photo-voice project with the LIPS youth and their families about what their needs and desires for physical activity are, what they have done in the past, and what they would like to see here that would encourage them to exercise in exciting ways. This also involves access to food and issues with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as per the thesis student’s interests. Once she has gathered all of this information, she will create (either alone or in conjunction with the other groups) a program that will benefit this community and offer fun physical activity opportunities.
Libby Shrobe, Psychology and American Studies, ’13
Annie Sloan, American Studies, ’13
Annie and Libby created and administered a survey to Tufts students in conjunction with the conference Barack Obama and the Age of Democracy, which was held at Tufts in the spring of 2011. The survey had a range of questions focused both on political and racial issues. Annie and Libby surveyed students to get a broad range of opinions on the presidency of Barack Obama thus far. The subjects of questions ranged from President Obama’s domestic and foreign policy to the Tea Party. They also surveyed students about the issue of race in the national rhetoric and on the Tufts University campus. They wanted to know if people thought the president’s race affected his popularity or his policies, and accordingly, they asked about the state of race and racism in our country. Now, related to the Tufts campus, Annie and Libby are surveying a representative sample of the student body to see how students view race relations in their own environment.
Minyoung Song, Philosophy, ’13
Minyoung’s project entails assisting the activities director of The Inn at Robbins Brook in planning, coordinating, and executing various activities that take place at the assisted living community. Minyoung also contributes to the Bridge Program, which provides an opportunity for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease at The Inn to interact with the rest of the residents there.
Joe Thibodeau, Undecided, ’14
For Joe’s work with the Somerville Homeless Coalition (SHC) this year, he is creating a curriculum about homelessness that both reaffirms the experiences of people who are or have been at one point in time homeless, and additionally, helps to educate the greater community about the work of SHC and the reality of homelessness in Somerville and in our country. This semester, he will be gathering and compiling research on homelessness, building a curriculum, and then using that curriculum to start a speaker’s bureau tailored to the work and needs of the SHC.
Sarah Tralins, Child Development and Biopsychology, ’14
As part of Sarah’s work as a Research Assistant in the Tufts Medical Center Department of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, she conducts surveys of families with children in primary care and pediatric offices in Boston, Somerville, Medford, and Cambridge to collect responses that focus on developmental, behavioral, and autistic symptoms. In addition to collecting survey responses, she translates the consent forms, surveys, and survey responses from Spanish to English and English to Spanish. These survey responses will be used to create a guide for parents and doctors to use in assessing if children are at-risk for developmental or behavioral diagnoses. It will hopefully be put to use in Massachusetts and one day, nationally.
Fiona Weeks, Latin American Studies and Community Health, ’14
With the goal of making the LIPS students leaders and agents of social change, Fiona coordinates educational programming for teenage interpreters, reinforcing technical vocabulary in their target languages and heightening awareness of current Somerville concerns. She is also facilitating partnerships between the LIPS program and various students and professors at Tufts to provide the youth with opportunities to engage in active citizenship with their unique perspective on the Somerville community.
Molly Weinstein, Undecided, ’14
Molly’s project is to plan and orchestrate a storytelling campaign for adult literacy students at the Somerville Center for Adult Learning Experiences (SCALE). SCALE seeks to use storytelling as a resource for literacy education and as a way to nurture student responsibility and empowerment, identify students’ goals, and increase students’ self-worth.
Lia Weintraub, International Relations and Spanish, ’14
Lia’s work at Groundwork Somerville consists of helping students in Somerville public schools gain a deeper understanding of ecology, healthy living, and the environment through after-school garden programs. After gaining familiarity with the diverse cultures represented in each of the three schools she works at, she hopes to develop a lesson of her own to teach at a garden club. In addition to her role as a Garden Educator, Lia participates in Groundwork Somerville’s Maple Syrup Project as an educator and is planning the gala coming up this spring.
Tabias Wilson, American Studies and Sociology, ’13
Tabias’ project is centered around his work at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law. He participates in many issues concerning affirmative action, race and criminal law, race and education and other forms of anti-racist work and racial justice. He is working on producing a “manifesto” policy paper with Professor Charles J Ogletree of Harvard Law and a few graduate law students. The shorter version of this report, concerning upcoming “Three Strikes Legislation”, was recently completed and submitted to the Mass. Congress, and they are currently working on a larger piece that will be published and presented as well. Tabias is the principal writer for the disparate racial impact of this legislation.
Alyssa Wohlfahrt, International Relations, ’13
Alyssa is working on the Calm Breathing and Relaxation Project – a feasibility study to see if children with emotional-behavioral disorders who are taught calm breathing exercises exhibit decreased symptoms of their emotional behavioral disorders and produce improved academic work.