A Community of Leaders: Part 2
Thirteen undergraduate, graduate and professional school students are honored for their commitment to service and active citizenship.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.12.10] On Apr. 22, 13 Tufts students-six undergraduates and seven students from professional and graduate schools-received the Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service in recognition of their service and leadership at Tufts.
"The winners of the Presidential Awards all share a tremendous dedication to service, which they put into action in innovative and inspiring ways," says Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow. " I always leave the awards breakfast feeling more optimistic about our shared future."
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.
Graduate and Professional Students:
School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2010
Throughout his time at the School of Dental Medicine, Todd Walker has been driven by an urge to help.
In 2009, Walker served as captain for the Haiti Humanitarian Dental Mission, which sent 14 students and four dentists from Tufts to Haiti to join two local dentists in providing dental treatment and education. The team provided care in three cities and also met with community leaders to increase dental health awareness.
"The mission trip to Haiti last August was one of the most meaningful experiences I have had while in dental school," says Walker. "One of the reasons I wanted to become a dentist is because I want to be able to help others."
Public service has been a core component of Walker's dental education, and is something he plans to pursue in his future practice. To bridge a communication gap at a clinic where he worked, Walker also organized Portuguese classes for dental faculty and students to teach them dental terminology and other fundamentals of the language.
"At the time, another student and myself were the only Portuguese speakers in our class and we could not provide the care needed for the number of patients that only spoke Portuguese."
"These service projects have motivated me to look for ways to continue to provide care for underserved populations when I start practicing on my own."
Past coverage of Walker.
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, DVM/MPH, Class of 2011
"As a DVM/MPH student," says Annie Shea, "I found that a lot of people, even in the public health field, struggled to understand the role of veterinarians in public health."
To address this gap, Shea helped coordinate One Health Obesity Awareness Day, a program put in place to promote collaboration and partnerships between the various health professions, while understanding the important connection between human and animal health. Through the programs One Health National Challenge 2009, during which served as community chair, she helped bring together students across disciplines at Tufts as well as members of the Grafton community.
"My goal in the One Health Obesity Awareness Day was to provide a forum for students from programs across the university to interact and get a chance to talk about their commonalities and hopefully foster future cross-collaborations," says Shea
During her time at the Cummings School, Shea has served as class president for the past four years, seeing herself as a link between veterinary students and faculty and the Tufts community, coordinating a campus-wide seminar on biodiversity and health, the development of a "survival guide" for incoming freshmen and the Cummings Community Dog Wash.
"I have really enjoyed working alongside the administrators to make our experience at Tufts Vet School as positive as possible."
School of Medicine, Class of 2010
For the past four years, medical student Emily Rosene has worked with Kids in Chemotherapy and their Students (KICS), a program that pairs Tufts medical students with children undergoing chemotherapy for cancer at the Floating Hospital. Paired with a young girl named Isabel who was undergoing treatment for leukemia, Rosene was given a new perspective of her field.
"Being able to accompany Isabel along her treatment course has given me the unique opportunity to become deeply involved in the healthcare community and to see the medical field from several vantage points," says Rosene. "
Isabel, now eight, inspired Rosene to write and illustrate a children's book, "Isabel's Magic," to help other children and families dealing with the disease .
Rosene also founded All Together Powering Kids (ATP Kids) to mentor children with metabolic disease at the Floating Hospital. The organization also aims to further understanding about metabolic diseases among physicians, healthcare providers and the broader community. To her, ATP is all about energy.
"It's the energy to carry out the actions of everyday life-energy that is often missing from patients at the clinic due to their metabolic diseases."
Rosene's involvement in KICS and ATP Kids have propelled her to pursue pediatrics. She hopes to "work with others with similar interests to pursue a course of lifelong learning about, and dedication towards, working with children."
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Nutrition Communication, Class of 2010
Taking nutrition out of the classroom and into Boston's neighborhoods has been critical to Dawn Undurraga's Friedman School education. In 2009, she took over Jumbo's Kitchen, an after-school cooking and nutrition class for second through fifth graders in Dorchester, trying to instill in them an appreciation of vegetables.
"We try to expose the myth that kids don't like [vegetables]," explains Undurraga. "Kids think vegetables are delicious if you give them a chance."
Undurraga says it's important to teach children early in life about the benefits of nutritious food. "I think there is a lot of power in the prevention program," she says. "Especially if you can get young kids to be like, ‘I love broccoli and I think red bean dip and plain yogurt are just fantastic and fruit salad doesn't need sugar on it, it's just beautiful the way it is.'"
The Albert Schweitzer Fellow also hosts cooking classes at the Martha Eliot Health Center in Boston's Jamaica Plain. The program is for teenagers who are referred to the center by their doctor if their BMI (body mass index) is above the 85th percentile.
"People are relying more and more on food outside the home and losing the ability to prepare their own healthy foods," says Undurraga. "I think it's really important to be on the other side and enforce those skills and sense of adventure. We really just try to focus on the fact that the most important thing is to be healthy and to feel good."
Undurraga says the hands-on service opportunities gave her a greater appreciation of her time in school.
"It's so rewarding to feel that the stuff you're learning can be applied and be helpful to people," says Undurraga. "It makes all these things come alive and teaches you things you just can't learn in the classroom."
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Education, Class of 2010
Five years ago, Adam Carberry's desire to teach engineering led him to the Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program (STOMP), which sends 40 undergraduate and grad students per year into local classrooms to teach engineering. He was paired with a student, and knew the experience would be beneficial. What he didn't realize was it would be so much fun-for both of them.
"He and I basically just played with LEGOs, but we ended up designing these really crazy projects, things that, to be honest, I didn't even fathom we could do with LEGOs. It was ridiculous," recalls Carberry. "This is the nerd in me coming out and identifying the nerd-slash-engineer in him."
Eventually, Carberry's student came to the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) to work on robotics.
Carberry also founded a student chapter of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) to engage students in engineering education.
Carberry hopes to continue with engineering education research and eventually become a professor. "Although I do have a lot invested in K-12 with the STOMP program, my goal is to actually improve the education that college students get."
Past coverage on Carberry.
Crisis Mappers at Fletcher
Shortly after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, Fletcher School student Patrick Meier launched an information-gathering platform (Ushahidi) that used reports from the ground to identify people in need in real time.
Tufts graduate students, undergraduates and alumni volunteered to map reports coming in from Haiti via social media, e-mail and text messages. They were translated from Haitian Creole into English and appended with accurate GPS coordinates to become actionable.
"There was such a vacuum for information on the ground," explains Fletcher student and crisis mapping volunteer Carol Waters, who notes that even the U.S. military contacted the group for information on where to direct their assistance.
From a core group of 12 to 15 Fletcher students, about 300 volunteers around the world were trained by the third week after the earthquake. The mappers worked in five different locations, enabling 24-hour processing of information.
"People showed up and people didn't sleep, they just gave all the time they had," says Waters. "It was really incredible."
With the crisis phase past, the crisis mappers at Fletcher have reached out to partners both in Haiti and among the Haitian diaspora to take over the platform this summer.
"This could be a really good tool for Haiti going into the future," explains Waters."Haitians could use it to track the rebuilding, to aid accountability, to monitor elections, to track public health or to be an on-call system in the case of hurricanes."
Waters predicts the technology will impact future humanitarian responses.
"It's kind of a game changer, because when a humanitarian crisis like that occurs in the future, people are going to expect [crisis mapping] and want it."
Past coverage on Crisis Mapping.
Electrical and Computer Engineering, Class of 2010
For Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan, engineering is a tool to change the world. In December 2008, Veeraraghavan launched the Information System on Human and Health Services, the first online database in India to collect information on people with disabilities.
"It's important how you use your skill set and make something really useful to people," says Veeraraghavan.
Before the institution of the system across 31 districts in the state of Tamil-Nadu, the Indian government did not have any statistical data on people with disabilities. The system, which freely gathers information in nine different areas including, education and family history, has since benefited 4.5 million disabled people.
"It's like creating a social security ID for a disabled person," explains Veeraraghavan."We make sure the hidden disabled populations are identified and given opportunity to make them an integral part of the society."
Veeraraghavan's next step is to create a voice-based survey in regional languages for illiterate populations and to develop a hand-held surveying device that can be used by volunteers going house-to-house. Software, animated games and gadgets to increase attention span and motor skills are also in the works. Such educational tools will facilitate the intellectual and social development of disabled children.
"What really motivates me is when you go back to the country and you always see a mother and father in tears, who say ‘Thank you, you made a difference in my child's life'," says Veeraraghavan.
Past coverage of Veeraraghavan.
Profiles by Kelsey Anderson (A'11).