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Good Works

Good WorksThirteen undergraduate, graduate and professional school students are honored for their commitment to service and active citizenship.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.01.09] On Apr. 23, 13 Tufts students-six undergraduates and eight students from professional and graduate schools-received the Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service in recognition of their service and leadership at Tufts.

"This year's winners exemplify the many ways in which our students make a difference beyond the university--literally around the world," says Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow. "Their generosity of spirit and commitment to others are models for all of us."

The Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service, established in 1999 by former Tufts President John DiBiaggio, is one of the university's highest student honors.

E-News spoke with the award recipients to learn more about their work, the correlation between their academic and civic lives, and what active citizenship means to them. This week we will feature the undergraduate award recipients and next week the professional and graduate student winners.

Undergraduates

Malek Al-Chalabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
(E'09) Civil Engineering

"Environmentalism and sustainability are important issues because they combine malek_400important disciplines, including engineering, economics, ethics, and equity," explains senior Malek Al-Chalabi, who has linked his academic background to a variety of green initiatives. "I think a sustainable movement requires an integrated effort."

Al-Chalabi, a Tisch College Scholar, has worked on environmental issues on both local and international levels. His experience with Groundwork Somerville, an environmental and social justice group, taught Al-Chalabi the value of a grass roots policy approach; he has also worked with the Stockholm Environmental Institute to research and recommend climate change mitigation strategies for national governments. Al-Chalabi took the lessons learned from these experiences and made a documentary exploring the motivations for 'green' investment, featuring case studies in Boston, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Sydney, Australia.

Al-Chalabi's work on environmental policy together with his involvement with the International Ambassadors Program, the AS&E Student-Faculty Committee, the Solar Decathlon, and organizing an active citizenship panel have defined his experience at Tufts.

"Tufts empowered me to find ways to utilize my interests to work with a variety of causes," says Al-Chalabi. "I think that comes from the uniqueness of Tufts, and speaks to what a special place it is here."

Jennifer Bailey, Quincy, Ill.
(A'09) Political Science

"Active citizenship isn't just a buzzword, it's a lifestyle," says senior Jennifer Bailey. "It's understanding that in our everyday interactions with one another we have a mutual responsibility to each other, and that's what makes us fully human."bailey_400

As a Tisch College Scholar, Bailey co-chaired the three-day national conference "Convergence: A Conference on the Intersection of Arts and Activism," a subject she also explored through her involvement with the Somerville Youth Council and Social Justice Arts Initiative. Bailey-a 2008 Galbraith Scholar on Inequality and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School-also worked on voter registration drives for Deval Patrick's gubernatorial campaign and was a leader for volunteer aid workers going to New Orleans to aid in cleanup from Hurricane Katrina. This work, together with her involvement with Tufts Africana Center and Emerging Black Leaders, helped Bailey garner the prestigious Truman Scholarship, which recognizes college juniors committed to public policy.

Bailey credits a combination of "amazing professors who really shaped the way I think" and out-of classroom learning as contributing to her success at Tufts. "I think college is really that time to step outside of your comfort zone," she says. "To not only learn, but unlearn some things as well."

Nancy Henry, Chattanooga, Tenn.
(A'09) Anthropology and Political Science

"The reason I came to Tufts was because I saw the education was applied in a way that henry_400was beneficial to the community and the world," says senior Nancy Henry.

As an Air Force ROTC Cadet, Henry oversaw a training program and crisis simulation as operations group commander and squadron commander. When she returned to Tufts, she built on this experience as co-chair of the Alliance Linking Leaders in Education and Services (ALLIES), an initiative that seeks to create understanding between future civilian and military leaders. Through ALLIES, Henry helped lead trips to Jordan to study the impact of the Iraq War, and Lebanon to research nationalism and Lebanese armed forces. Such experiences supplemented her activism with the Institute for Global Leadership, particularly the New Initiative for Middle East Peace (NIMEP). In addition, Henry has been an active volunteer with Bridge Refugee Services, providing English as a Second Language tutoring and assisting with cultural orientation and access to social services. On top of all this, she ran with the President's Marathon Challenge team this year.

"Thinking about the military fits in really well with [my academic] disciplines, and ROTC has been really good leadership training that's carried over into what I've done at Tufts," says Henry. "I think they've been a really good complement for each other."

Padden Murphy, Great Falls, Mont.
(A'09) International Relations

To senior Padden Murphy, "active citizenship means taking whatever your talents are and whatever networks and resources are available to you" to help out "in whatever way you can."

The resources of Tufts' Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) were instrumental in helping Murphy achieve this goal. With EXPOSURE, IGL's photojournalism, documentary studies, and human rights program, Murphy traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to document the role of the police in the post-"Dirty War" era. He also co-founded the ALLIES program, researched Chinese investment in Lagos, Nigeria, as an IGL Synaptic Scholar and is founder and inaugural editor of the IGL publication Discourse.

"The IGL has given me an invaluable opportunity to take my education and look at the difference between theory and practice," says Murphy. "It's taught me a lot and influenced me on an intellectual and human level."

Murphy is also part of the Tufts Community Union Senate and a senior member of the comedy group Cheap Sox. The group recently coordinated a comedy show with the charity Seeds of Peace, which provides leadership training to youth from regions of conflict.

"Tufts is a pretty unique place in that it really practices what it preaches," says Murphy, who says the university has "an entrepreneurial spirit that doesn't betray any obligation to the greater community."

Morissa Sobelson, Concord, N.H.
(A'09) American Studies and Community Health

A passion for public health furthered by a high school trip to Nairobi, Kenya, helped lead sobelson_400senior Morissa Sobelson to Tufts, and this enthusiasm has not wavered. At Tufts, Sobelson has worked with Tufts Student Health Advisory Board, Tufts HIV/AIDS Collaborative (through which she led a delegation to the International Aids Conference in Toronto), the Institute for Global Leadership's Synaptic Scholars Program, and the President's Marathon Challenge. She has also been active in the Circle Program in New Hampshire and Physicians for Human Rights. However, it was the issue of health disparity that inspired Sobelson to organize the daylong symposium "Health Disparities and Higher Education," which signed up close to 400 registrants.

"Boston is this huge medical Mecca, but it's home to some of the biggest and most egregious inequities in health," says Sobelson, who founded the Health Disparities Student Collaborative in response to the questions the conference raised. "The idea was to look at our role as academic institutions in fostering dialogue and in galvanizing action to really level this playing field, to close some of these gaps in Boston."

While deeply appreciative of this award, Sobelson also views it "as a reminder that there is still so much more to be done."

Anjuli Wager, Sudbury, Mass.
(A'09) Peace & Justice Studies and Community Health

Senior Anjuli Wagner sees peace and justice studies as "a hands-on and creative wager_400approach to international and domestic relations and all sorts of social and economic justice." A member of the Executive Board for Peace & Justice Studies, Wagner's experience includes an internship with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. She worked extensively with children through PeaceJam and the Peace Games, an after-school conflict resolution program in Medford Public Schools, as well as elder care communities through a program entitled "Peace Education Across Generations."

However, says Wagner, her Community Health concentration truly allowed "the direct application of the framework" of peace and justice studies. As a Summer Scholar, Wagner traveled to Ghana to study and help treat the water-borne infectious disease schistosomiasis. Recently awarded the Atkinson Scholarship, she plans to return to the same community this summer to complete construction of a swimming pool that will help halt the spread of this disease by discouraging youth from swimming in the river.

Wagner says she is inspired by places where people are "identifying problems in their community, identifying what kind of solution they'd like, and then being involved in a direct creation and implementation of that solution." According to Wagner, "That's where I see myself."

Story by Molly Frizell (A' 09).

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