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Honorable Work: Part One

Honorable Work: Part OneIn part one of this two part series, six undergraduate students detail projects of leadership and service that have led them to receive one of the university's highest honors.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.05.08] On April 23, 13 students were recognized for their dedication to giving back to both the Tufts community and beyond with the annual 2008 Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service award ceremony.

"Education for active citizenship is one of Tufts' great strengths," says President Lawrence S. Bacow. "The Presidential Awards are an opportunity both to recognize outstanding student accomplishments and to celebrate the diverse meanings of citizenship and public service that Tufts seeks to support." 

This year's event honors six undergraduates and seven professional and graduate school students. Recently E-News spoke with each of the award recipients to learn more about their service work and how those activities shaped their Tufts experience.

Here you will read about the experiences of the six undergraduates. Part two of this feature will showcase the work of the seven professional and graduate school students.

Jennifer Bokoff
(A'08), Sociology

Senior Jennifer Bokoff has spent her entire Tufts career providing free individual case management to Somerville's low income families. As the local director for National Student Partnership (NSP), the nation-wide student-led volunteer service organization that "links people in need with the resources and opportunities necessary to become self-sufficient." Bokoff provides families with help on everything from improving their interviewing skills to decoding immigrations laws.

"Each client brings a unique situation to each meeting, and I often begin meetings by providing our least tangible, but in many ways most important service-listening and support," she says. "Often, by letting a client vent about how the bus was late or how they canceled the last appointment because their child was home sick, I can ask follow-up questions during the course of the meeting about transportation and health care to help them further."

jenbIn her time with NSP, Bokoff has helped the Tufts chapter grow from 15 volunteers to 50, a development that she says reflects the spirit of volunteerism at Tufts.

"We are creating our own sustainable change in community and developing roots here," she says.

The sociology major also serves as the co-chair for Hillel's Moral Voices Committee and is the emergency preparedness assistant for the Somerville Department of Health. Bokoff is taking on a two-year commitment as a paralegal for the IRS making "sure that the system is working for the right people and ensuring fairness across the board so that people aren't abusing the system either."

"I think that to make a true difference, you have to pour your soul into a cause and really know it inside and out, and dedicate your time to it for the long run."

Lynn Jeudy
(A'08), Child Development

"I don't participate in many activities at Tufts, but the ones that I do participate in, I care about immensely," says senior Lynn Jeudy, child development major and volunteer coordinator for Jumpstart at Tufts.

Jeudy has worked with Jumpstart, the national nonprofit organization that pairs college students with preschoolers in under-resourced communities, since her freshman year when she was matched with a preschooler as a Jumpstart Corps Member.

"Jumpstart has always been more than just a job to me," Jeudy says. "The families that we work with and the issues in education that we are working on in the community are very real and have significant impact on people's lives."

lynnj_400In addition to her work with Jumpstart, Jeudy worked with the Balfour Scholars and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to begin College Awareness Day, "an initiative geared toward demystifying higher education for high school students in the community." The event is now in its second year.

"The goal of College Awareness Day was not to recruit students for Tufts University specifically, but to simply recruit students for college. As students in higher education, we feel that college students are in an interesting position of influence on the younger generations of students, especially to those who do not have college on their horizons."

Along with her work with Jumpstart and College Awareness Day, Jeudy is president of the Tufts Third Day Gospel Choir, a peer leader for the Africana Center and a Tufts Christian Fellowship leader.

"What I have learned from Jumpstart, and what I hope the Tufts community is learning and will continue to learn, is that even though we may not be responsible for every problem and issue in our society, we are still accountable. Part of active citizenship is accountability. Too much is at stake for us to choose not to get involved."

Man-Suen "Jonathan" Moy
(A'08), Biology

After seeing the significant role that Chinatown's community played in his parents' lives after they immigrated to the United States, Jonathan Moy felt he needed to give the community something in return.

For the past three years, Moy has been involved in the fight against hepatitis B, serving as the executive director of the Hepatitis B Initiative, an intercollegiate organization with more than 150 members.

"The mission of the organization is to address the high incidence of hepatitis B in places like Chinatown, Dorchester and Malden through hepatitis B education and outreach and by providing free hepatitis B screenings and vaccinations at one of its three clinic sites," Moy says.

jmoy_pictureMoy says that his greatest accomplishment with the organization was coordinating the LIVERight 5K Run/Walk, the first hepatitis B and liver cancer run/walk on the East Coast. The event, held April 2007 and organized with the Stanford Asian Liver Center and the Answer to Cancer Foundation, was funded in part by the Tisch College Civic Engagement Fund. More than 350 people participated, raising $21,000 toward hepatitis B outreach and education.

Moy has also taken his interest in the fight against hepatitis B to the national level, having been named National Hepatitis B Co-Director and the only undergraduate member of the Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association. He is currently organizing the third annual National Hepatitis B meeting scheduled for November.

"The meeting serves as a national forum for discussion and collaboration and aims to educate medical student chapter leaders about hepatitis B so that they can better serve their local communities through hepatitis B education and screening/vaccination programs," Moy says. "Although the event is still in the planning stages, I have already raised $15,000."

Kimberly Petko
(A'08), Child Development

"Community service for a more socially responsible world." This is the mission of Tufts' Leonard Carmichael Society - a motto that has become dear to Kimberly Petko's heart.

Petko has worn many hats during her time with LCS, including cancer outreach coordinator, faculty/staff liaison and treasurer of the executive board, and president of the organization in 2007.

As the cancer outreach coordinator, she organized an a cappella benefit concert to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as well as a holiday donation drive organized via the Jimmy Fund to sponsor the family of a child with cancer..

kimp_400As president, aside from managing ongoing volunteer opportunities in tutoring, shelter work and Volunteer Vacations, Petko also oversaw several major events. She organized LCS's annual charity and donation drive which benefited RESPOND, Inc., a Somerville organization that works with women and families affected by domestic violence. She also brought seven successful Tufts' alumni working in the non-profit sector to participate in a talk with students called "Careers for Social Change: An Alumni Panel on Non-Profits."

"My experiences with LCS and my academic endeavors have synergistically contributed to my growing understanding of the world and my place in it, ultimately reaffirming my commitment to pursue a career in public service."

Petko, a senior, is a double major in community health and child development, participating in the BA/MPH accelerated dual-degree program. She feels that her entire Tufts experience has been defined by her work with LCS.

"I am honored to have had the privilege to lead this organization and help build on 46 exceptional years of service during my four short years at Tufts," Petko says. "I have been challenged, inspired and encouraged by so many here, and for that I am grateful."

Diego Villalobos
(A'09) Anthropology

Working for the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership, junior Diego Villalobos is the coordinator and co-leader of BUILD, or Building Understanding through International Learning and Development, a student-led program to help undergraduate students better understand sustainable development through practical and theoretical projects.

With a four-pronged model involving education, leadership, action and solidarity, Villalobos and other students spent time in the northeast region of Nicaragua helping the local population with their community-created development plan.

diegoAs a Tisch Scholar, Villalobos has been working for the Somerville Arts Council, where he has had the opportunity to work with the immigrant community and learn about their interactions with local government. Working with the Council, Villalobos has spent the last year on the Mystic River Mural Project, providing 10 local low-income youth with summer employment stipends, training in the arts and design and environmental stewardship.

"To me, this work is important because it allows students to use their unique abilities and the knowledge they have gotten here at Tufts to help and empower people in the communities we work with."

Villalobos has also created a for-profit business, PNM Designs, geared toward at-risk youth in the Somerville community.

"The two main goals of PNM Designs are to generate sustainable income for some of our youth and to positively impact all our participants with our entrepreneurial leadership and art trainings."

Looking back on his work, Villalobos hopes that his various projects serve as eye-openers to other Tufts students.

"I hope [this work] has allowed some students to see beyond the boundaries of our campus and see some of the things that are going on next door in our host communities."

Eleanor Heidkamp-Young
(A'08), International Relations

Going a step beyond simply feeding the homeless, Eleanor Heidkamp-Young partnered with the Somerville Homeless Coalition to help them feed each other.

eleanor_400In her sophomore year, the Tisch Scholar and current senior founded the Tufts Campus Kitchen, a culinary job training program for homeless or transitioning adults. The program, now called Tufts Community Kitchen, trains participants with the skills necessary to compete in the culinary industry. The food prepared by the program is then donated to local shelters.

In her final year, Heidkamp-Young has completed work on a promotional film for ACCESS Boston, a non-profit that assists Boston Public School students with the financial aid application process.

"I've enjoyed putting my energy into projects where I can use skills that I learned here at Tufts to help others," she says. "I think these two experiences have been an integral part of my Tufts experience."

 Profiles by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications

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