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Honorable Work: Part Two

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

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.09.08] 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.

This year's event honored 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 work of the seven professional and graduate school students. Read about the undergraduate award recipients.

Allan Pang
School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2008

Allan Pang is "bridging" the gap between dental treatment and education. Pang and classmate Parita Patel (D'08) have worked toward developing and implementing the "Oral Health Education Program," in partnership with Bridge Over Troubled Water, a dental service agency for homeless and troubled young adults,

pang_400The Oral Health Education Program will first seek to develop an oral health education curriculum for the 18-25 year old population, conducting oral health screenings andrecruiting dental students to participate in educational efforts and the distribution of hygiene kits.

"For Bridge clients, we wish to help arrest oral disease as well as systemic disease through early intervention, [while] for the Bridge organization, our goal is to set up a long-term education program to better serve its clients," Pang says. "We wish to set up a program that is an integral part of the Tufts Dental curriculum that not only screens underserved patients, but also provides the treatment that patients need."

Pang says it has been important to make his fellow classmates aware of the difficulty that the young adult population faces in terms of access to dental care.

"Most healthcare reforms focus on providing primary medical care for the underserved-my hope is that one day dental care and eye care will be part of healthcare reform."

In addition to his project with Bridge, Pang also participated in a mission trip to Ecuador in August of 2007 to provide oral health care to the underserved population of Tierra Nueva and has volunteered with the Smart Smiles dental sealant project.

Kaitlyn Conroy
Master of Science in Structural Engineering, 2008

Kaitlyn Conroy has spent the past six years sharing her passion for the field of engineering with youth in local communities.

In 2002 as a Tufts undergraduate, Conroy joined STOMP (Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program), pairing undergraduate engineering students with local K-12 educators to help implement an interactive engineering-based curriculum. Now finishing up her master's in civil and environmental engineering, Conroy is involved on a different level as the program manager.

kconroy_400"I have been involved in weekly classroom visits to teach engineering concepts, developing engineering curricula, standardizing training sessions for new members, running fundraising workshops, documenting processes and procedures of the program and requiring members to blog about their classroom experiences," Conroy says.

Conroy says she enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for engineering with Medford and Somerville schoolchildren, hoping to inspire them to choose careers in the field.

"I wanted young students to feel as passionately as I did about how things work and why they work and develop creative solutions to common problems."

By virtue of its success at Tufts, STOMP has since been replicated in five other universities across the U.S., including Princeton and MIT.

Benjamin Mazzotta
Ph.D. candidate, The Fletcher School

For Benjamin Mazzotta, his career as a student at The Fletcher School has been all about getting "Results."

Mazzotta is a volunteer, mentor and founder of the Tufts chapter of Results, an international organization dedicated to generating the political will to end hunger and poverty.

benjaminmazzotta"The global campaign for Results 2008 focuses on universal primary education, international public health and microfinance," Mazzotta says. "The Tufts community is particularly well suited to understanding the problems of global poverty and hunger as problems that also affect us here in the United States. Our students understand the profound connection between the long-term interests of this country and the improvement of basic health care, education and employment in other countries."

Mazzotta says he is "humbled" by the work of other Results partners who show great effort in promoting the interests of people they will probably never meet.

As a Fletcher School doctoral candidate, Mazzotta has helped with the organization of the October 2007 conference, "State, Society and Security: Learning partnerships in a global age." The conference provided a forum for Fletcher faculty, current Ph.D. candidates and Ph.D. alums to discuss current policy challenges, exchange cutting-edge research and strengthen the Fletcher Ph.D. network.

"At other schools, students of international relations, security, business, law and humanitarian affairs might be in separate silos," he says. "This year's activities at Fletcher were designed to break those silos apart and to discover pragmatic, common solutions to potentially very different problems in those fields.

"Fletcher is a humbling place to go to school. It's inspiring to figure out ways that you can bring students together to tackle problems from very different perspectives."

Allison Quady
Master of Science, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Master of Public Health, School of Medicine

As an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, Allison Quady has dedicated the past year to multiple projects with the St. Francis House in Boston, a non-profit day shelter, soup kitchen and life-skills organization.

alliegardengate_400Quady, who is pursuing both a master's degree in nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and a master's degree in public health from the School of Medicine works with two separate programs within the organization. Next Step is a housing program for those looking for a fresh start after leaving prison, rehabilitation or a homeless shelter, and the Moving Ahead Program, which works with the same population, is a life-skills program involving three months of intensive classes.

Working with Next Step, Quady began a community dinner program last June which consists of a monthly meeting for dinner or cooking lessons.

"During the summer, I acquired a gardening space at the Berkeley Community gardens where we planted garden vegetables," she says. "The garden plot yielded enough cherry tomatoes, cabbage, herbs and summer squash to supplement an excellent harvest feast in the fall."

With the Moving Ahead Program, Quady began teaching a nutrition class this fall, providing healthy meals and informal discussion about healthy eating.

"Getting to know the people at St Francis has given me a larger perspective on life in Boston and the many different types of people that make up the city," she says. "I also feel better able to mentor other Tufts students who might be looking for a similar experience, right here in Boston, but outside of their comfort zones. I've talked to others in my program that are interested in starting community gardens with different groups in the city."

 

Maria Mayoral
Graduate School Arts and Sciences, Department of Education, 2009

During the past two years as a graduate student in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, Maria Mayoral has focused on three different projects-working for the Research Institute for Learning and Development (ILD), the Center for Children with Special Needs at the Tufts Medical Center and traveling outside of the country to work on the Infant Nutrition Project in Antigua, Guatemala.

At the ILD, Mayoral says she "translated research and theory into practice" by working as a co-designer on the SMARTS Mentoring Program's Web site. SMARTS is a pilot program that matches college and high school students with middle school children who face challenges with learning and attentiveness. The Web site serves as a support system and network for mentors and mentees participating in the program.

maria_400At the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Mayoral worked as a clinical research assistant for the Advanced Parenting Education in Pediatrics project, helping to implement and conduct behavioral screenings of 2- and 3-year-old children.

"[The project's goal is] to create a sustainable model of preventive intervention directed at children displaying challenging behaviors and early symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)," she says. "This work has been important to me because I have learned the power of positive mentoring relationships."

Last year, Mayoral worked as an early stimulation specialist for the Obras Sociales Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua, conducting developmental monitoring for malnourished infants. Mayoral also acted as a cultural liaison between Eliot-Pearson and Guatemalan officials. Documentation of this experience has become the topic of her master's thesis.

"I couldn't have accomplished so many good deeds without the support of my mentors and professors at Tufts," she says. "Therefore, I am glad I have been able to give back to Tufts and to the world."

Julia S. Goldberg
Master of Public Health, School of Medicine

As part of her Applied Learning Experience (ALE) needed to gain a master's in public health with a concentration on health services policy and management, Julia Goldberg has worked for the past two years assessing the occupational health and safety of immigrants in Somerville.

Working under a four-year National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) grant received by Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering David M. Gute, Goldberg has served as the Tufts liaison to the Immigrant Service Providers Group of Somerville/Health (ISPG/H).

julia_400"I interviewed Somerville residents about their occupational hazards, oversaw risk assessments, transcribed documents and collated data for the grant as to the specific health outcomes of immigrants in Somerville," Goldberg says.

This semester, Goldberg has been working with the Brazilian Women's Group (BWG) a member of the ISPG/H, which launched a cooperative of Brazilian house cleaners called "Vida Verde".

"I performed qualitative research about the Co-op members and their potential occupational hazards, perceived work hazards, past employment and the general immigrant experience in Massachusetts," she says. "My research and participation in the cooperative contributed to the overall outcomes of the grant and my ALE since I learned about each member's perception of risk during housecleaning, their adverse health affects from housecleaning without using green products, their past work experience before joining the cooperative and their motivation to start and continue to contribute to the BWG's mission."

It is Goldberg's hope that the research from this project will help inform the work of others who focus on the immigrant population in the future.

Nadia Stegeman
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Master of Public Heath, School of Medicine

What would happen to your pet in the event of a disaster? Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Heath candidate Nadia Stegeman has spent the past year dedicated to assuring animal safety in such times.

Working with fellow DVM/MPH candidate Emily Christiansen, Stegeman has made it her goal to raise awareness of animal disaster preparedness and response among colleagues and emergency management personnel.

nadia_400"Since the federal PETS (Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards) Act was passed, emergency management directors were asked to include animals in their evacuation plans for the first time ever," Stegeman says. "Unfortunately, veterinarians tend to receive scarce invitations for a seat at the public health table, making established connections between local government and veterinarians hard to come by."

Stegeman's project intends to connect emergency managers and their local veterinarians to and create a longstanding and beneficial relationship between both parties.

Teaming up with the Central Massachusetts Disaster Animal Response Team and the Webster, Massachusetts library, Stegeman and Christensen helped publish a brochure and Web site directed at veterinarians explaining the PETS Act and their role in animal disaster preparedness and response.

In addition to her disaster relief work, Stegeman is a member of the board of directors for Massachusetts Animal Response, the coordinator of the Companion Animal Blood Drive, community service chairperson for the student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and co-class president.

Profiles by Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications

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