2019-2020 Tisch Scholar Projects
Each year, students in our signature Tisch Scholars program work with a nonprofit organization or government office in one of Tufts’ host communities, address issues on the Tufts University campus, or tackle social problems through a senior thesis. Check out what Scholars are working on during the 2019-2020 academic year:
Eve Abraha - Institute for Democracy & Higher Education
Eve is working at Tisch College's Institute for Democracy in Higher Education, a leading venue for research, resources, and advocacy on college student political learning and engagement. Eve’s work is centered around equity and inclusion, and some of the tasks include helping with various qualitative case studies at other colleges and universities to examine their climates for political equity and inclusion. She is also reading several texts focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. Eve is also identifying milestones, turning points, and other evidence (or lack thereof) of a commitment to and progress on institutional diversity.
Iman Ali - Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Iman is working with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, learning about the nuances of legislative advocacy campaigns and electoral organizing. She supports MIRA by maintaining contact and outreach with volunteers, assisting with administrative tasks, attending meetings and briefs, and canvassing. Through that work, she is strengthening existing connections with MIRA partners that serve diverse immigrant/refugee communities and help with forming new ones. Iman is excited to contribute to building momentum for passing pro-immigrant legislation and mobilizing immigrant/refugee communities across Massachusetts.
Julia Asfour - STEM CURES
Julia is continuing her work with STEM CURES, a project that brings STEM education to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. In addition to raising awareness of the issue and recruiting volunteers at Tufts and in the local communities, Julia supports the development of curriculum for STEM programs in the camps and fundraises to equip several classrooms with science education supplies. She also assists with media, communication, and translation.
Elebetel Assefa - Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)
Elebetel is working with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), a nonprofit human services organization that provides low-income residents in the Greater Boston area with the tools and resources needed to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success, by systematically addressing the range of barriers faced by households in poverty, from day-to-day crises to long-term needs for jobs and education. Elebetel is supporting ABCD in establishing a pilot project that extends access to fuel assistance funds, addressing one of the largest regulatory barriers to homelessness in Greater Boston.
Amber Asumda - Grassroots International
Amber is working with Grassroots International, a foundation that advances the human rights to land, water, and food through global grantmaking, building solidarity across organizations and movements, and advocacy in the United States. She reviews grantmaking archives to identify key impacts of Grassroots International grantmaking for global movements. Amber is also working in communications to provide a voice in the United States for Grassroots partners and connect people with global movements.
Nithya Badrinath - Office of State Representative Christine Barber
Nithya is working in the Office of State Representative Christine Barber, who represents the 34th Middlesex District and is particularly focused on expanding affordable housing, promoting high-quality early childhood education, improving access to health care and addiction care services, and supporting the Green Line Extension. Nithya assists Rep. Barber and her office in supporting legislation through policy research, writing testimony, drafting talking points, and producing communications materials. She also responds to constituent correspondence and casework requests, and helps with occasional event planning.
Alejandro Baez - Somerville Community Health Agenda
Alejandro is working with the Somerville Community Health Agenda, an innovative partnership between Cambridge Health Alliance, the Somerville Health Department and the community that works collaboratively to improve the health of Somerville residents and achieve health equity using a broader approach that addresses social, economic and environmental factors. Alejandro works on Stigma Unstuck, a multi-event art and film series aimed at bringing greater understanding to mental health issues. He is a key member of the planning and implementation committees and is continuing his work from its inception a year ago, with a stronger emphasis on youth and community-based mental health this year.
Sonya Bhatia - Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center
Sonya is working at the Health Promotion Center (HPC) of the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, which aims to provide personal, quality health care with respect and compassion to a diverse community using the lens of Health Equity and Social Justice, considering social determinants of health, and striving to be anti-racist in their work. Sonya is collecting qualitative and quantitative data on HPC programs and performing analysis using the tools of critical race theory, then creating a presentation using an HPC program as a case study to relay HPC work to the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center at large.
Aberdeen Bird - Environmental Studies Research
Aberdeen is working on an environmental studies thesis, studying how urban foraging and wild urban plants fit into food justice as a whole. Many wild plants that grow prolifically in the city are also edible and nutritious, creating a potential for these plants to provide supplemental nutrition. Aberdeen is exploring the motivations driving local urban foragers and whether foraging can serve as a valuable or viable means of supplemental nutrition for those who could really benefit from doing so. In her work, she connects with community organizations and individuals to conduct research and produce a booklet with information on local plants, stakeholders, environmental impact, local food security, and a GIS map.
Alejandra Carrillo - Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Fair Labor Division
Alejandra is working in the Fair Labor Division (FLD) of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, a division that works to protect employees from exploitation through enforcing and prosecuting employers who fail to comply with the Commonwealth’s wage, labor, and hour laws. Alejandra is developing outreach materials to expand FLD’s work with high school and college students, who as first-time employees are often unaware of their rights and protections while also frequently employed in industries or positions with high rates of wage violations, making them particularly vulnerable.
Chae Chun - Asian American Resource Workshop
Chae is working at the Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW), which works to empower Asian American communities through grassroots and community organizing. Chae is working with AARW to support its upcoming 40th anniversary celebration and will also be supporting its other ongoing projects such as Sticky Rice Project, eAARW’s political education program. She is also involved in supporting AARW’s day-to-day work such as updating its social media platforms, updating its website, and drafting emails for its mailing list.
Adaeze Dikko - Petey Greene Program
Adaeze is working with the Petey Greene Program, which supplements education in jails, prisons, and detention centers by preparing volunteers to provide free, quality tutoring and related programming to support the academic achievement of incarcerated people. Adaeze is continuing her involvement in tutor trainings and interviews, while becoming more immersed in office tasks and expanding the club format for Tufts tutors. In doing so, she hopes to establish Petey Greene as a sustainable hub for those interested in carceral justice and seeking a network for positive prison work in the area.
Ava Dimond - Somerville Community Corporation
Ava is working with Somerville Community Corporation (SCC), an organization whose mission is to develop and preserve affordable housing, offer services and programs, and build a collective voice through community organizing and planning to realize a stable, diverse and affordable community. Ava is working closely with the Communications and Development Manager on the “Visions 2069” Forum, an event celebrating Somerville’s past, present and future. She is involved with event coordination, outreach, curation of submissions, archival research, and producing policy papers.
Bronwyn Fulton - Medford Family Network
Bronwyn is working with the Medford Family Network (MFN), a family support and parenting education program that is available to families and caregivers who live or work in Medford that aims to create a strong web of support by connecting families with each other and community resources. Bronwyn designs, supports and promotes children’s literacy programs, creates resource guides, and helps coordinate parenting groups.
Samuel Gardner-Bird - Office of State Representative Tram T. Nguyen
Samuel is working with the Office of State Representative Tram T. Nguyen, who represents the 18th Essex District, is a Tufts alumna, and is the first Vietnamese American woman to serve in the Massachusetts legislature. Samuel is assisting Rep. Nguyen’s office in researching and writing on environmental issues, especially a bill filed by Representative Joan Meschino: H. 832, An Act to Create a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth. Samuel is researching H. 832, drafting a bill summary, testimony, and communications materials, comparing it to similar legislative solutions, and reporting back to the office from committee hearings and policy briefings.
Ashley Gomez - Volunteer Lawyers Project
Ashley is working with Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) of the Boston Bar Association, a federally funded organization that was established to increase access to justice by delivering high quality pro bono civil legal services to eligible clients in the Greater Boston area. Ashley assesses clients’ legal needs and provides them with legal information and referrals to other organizations and materials. She also works on research projects and projects aimed at increasing access to justice, ultimately increasing the number of low-income clients able to access legal services and helping to eliminate barriers to clients seeking assistance.
Rabiya Ismail - The Welcome Project, Youth Aspirations Program
Rabiya is working at the Welcome Project’s Youth Aspirations Program, which is rooted in the belief that youth have the potential to be important voices and community leaders, aims to build the collective power of immigrant youth in Medford and Somerville through experiential training and projects, and focuses on harnessing youths’ skills to lift the voices of other immigrants and be more civically engaged in their communities. Rabiya works with immigrant youth and their families to chart out their courses post high school, and tailors workshops for immigrant and/or undocumented youth on financial aid, college choices, applications, SAT preparation, and more.
Rachel Klein - MassINC
Rachel is primarily focused on overseeing MassINC’s inaugural Transformative Transit-Oriented Development (TTOD) Design Competition. This competition brings together local graduate students, city governments, and community organizations to co-design a project centered around the transit needs of their city. Rachel conducts community outreach in order to increase participation in the competition, gathers necessary data about life in Gateway Cities, and will help plan and execute the competition reveal and celebration at the statehouse in April. Rachel is excited to be working with her supervisor, Dr. Tracy Corley, on this project, and knows that she will learn a lot about qualitative research, public policy, community interaction, and non-profit work.
Heresa Laforce - Tufts’ Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Heresa is working with Tufts’ Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, which is devoted to the promotion of public health via education, research, population-based and patient-centered advocacy, shaping health policy, and community service. Heresa is doing research and spatial analysis on the topics of environmental health, environmental epidemiology, exposure assessment, and cardiovascular epidemiology. One of her first projects is focused on determining areas of high vulnerability in relation to the opioid crisis across the U.S.
René LaPointe Jameson - Medford Family Network
René is working with the Medford Family Network (MFN), a family support and parenting education program that is available to families and caregivers who live or work in Medford that aims to create a strong web of support by connecting families with each other and community resources. René will design, support and promote children’s literacy programs, create resource guides, and help coordinate parenting groups.
Leanne Loo - Oxfam, Women’s Economic Empowerment
Leanne is working with the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Team at Oxfam US (OUS) to research and map savings groups initiatives to create a landscape of the geography and success implementation of other savings groups projects that would be helpful in OUS’ partnership development in the future. She is also supporting various logistical elements of the WEE team’s partnership with CARE to develop the next generation of support for savings groups through merging digital tech.
Kella Merlain-Moffatt - Senior Thesis
Kella is working on her thesis, studying how the idea that being a Latinx person equates to speaking Spanish or being a descendant of Spanish-speaking people leaves Haitians, Brazilians, and other members of the Latinx community out of the conversation. Kella is connecting with community organizations to begin conversations about how identity and language impact communities and uncover unconscious biases that people may have about placement within the Latinx community. Additionally, she hopes to validate Latinx people who may not feel comfortable self-identifying as Latinx due to social, racial, linguistic, or political reasons.
Basile Moreau - Oxfam, Disaster Risk Reducation
Basile is working with the Oxfam Humanitarian Theme Team by mapping DRR (disaster risk reduction) projects that link humanitarian assistance and recovery work across the wider Oxfam confederation. Basile focuses on specific projects where his knowledge and skills are put into practice to advance the learning and the practices around these specific topics, ultimately leading to create a map of DRR projects across the confederation, as well as a paper and a presentation summarizing lessons from the internship and the research.
Rabecca Musiega - Senior Thesis
Rabecca is writing an International Relations thesis entitled "Politics or Philanthropy? Examining The Role of European Union Food Aid." Her research is an interdisciplinary culmination of her interests in food security, humanitarian aid, and foreign policy. Drawing on qualitative interviews with food aid recipients, existing academic literature on food aid policy, and EU reports and documents, the thesis will shed new light on why, how, and where European food aid is allocated, distributed, and implemented. Ultimately, she hopes to critically assess whether food aid is driven by strategic foreign policy motives or philanthropy (humanitarian) needs.
Kelsey Narvaez - Nonprofit VOTE
Kelsey is working with Nonprofit VOTE, which seeks to integrate voter engagement into the existing services of nonprofits around the country. She is coming up with the framework and ‘engagement spectrum’ that Nonprofit VOTE uses to sort nonprofit voter engagement, as well as coordinating new nonprofits to interview. Kelsey is also doing background research on previous nonprofit voter engagement initiatives and work with her supervisor to create a ‘journeymap’ for this data. Additionally, she will potentially be reaching out to Nonprofit VOTE’s national network partners in order to better understand fow integration of voter engagement within their organizational culture and implementation worked for them.
Carolina Olea Lezama - Massachusetts Voter Table
Carolina is working with Massachusetts Voter Table, an organization that advances civic access, engagement, and representation using grassroots organization to increase resources and build power among the “New American Majority”–people of color, working-class communities, young people, and new citizens. Carolina is working on the pilot Get Out The Count initiative, which aims to prepare historically undercounted communities for the 2020 census. She is contacting organizers of candidate forums to add questions about the census into the discussion, reaching out to facilities with public computers to increase access to digital self-response, collecting pledge cards to be counted, and participating in door-to-door efforts in hard-to-count communities.
Mathew Peña - The Welcome Project
Mathew is working with The Welcome Project, an organization that builds the collective power of immigrants to participate in and shape community decisions. Specifically, Mathew is supporting its Youth Aspirations Program, which is rooted in the belief that youth have the potential to be important voices and community leaders, aims to build the collective power of immigrant youth in Medford and Somerville through experiential training and projects, and focuses on harnessing youths’ skills to lift the voices of other immigrants and be more civically engaged in their communities. Mathew is tasked with running the college access program, which includes workshops and seminars that will help high school seniors directly throughout the application process. He will also work with high school juniors in beginning the application process, through college search workshops and college trips.
Krithi Ram-Junnarkar - Somerville Community Health Agenda
Through the Somerville Community Health Agenda, Krithi is working on Stigma Unstuck: A Mental Health Arts Series at Tufts, a multi-event art series in collaboration with Cambridge Health Alliance, the Community Health Department at Tufts University, and several other community partners aimed at bringing greater awareness and understanding to mental health issues in the hopes of facilitating shifts in attitudes that perpetuate stigma and discrimination at Tufts and in the surrounding communities. This initiative is inspired by festivals in Scotland that have spread over more than a decade, highlighting the continued need to address stigma, opportunities to feature authentic voices and to engage broader stakeholders in mental health promotion and prevention.
Leo Ruiz Sánchez - Josiah Quincy Upper School
Leo is working at the Josiah Quincy Upper School, which aims to develop its students to be knowledgeable, productive members of a global society through an education that promotes cultural awareness, skillful use of information, personal renewal, and both individual and community path-finding for the twenty-first century. He supports the CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) experiential learning program, providing students with the opportunity for self-determination, collaboration, and engagement. He also facilitates in-class activities and provides mentorship to students in their CAS path-finding.
Daniela Sánchez - Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Daniela joined the visitor studies team of the education department at the Museum of Fine Arts to assist with the constant research and surveying of visitor interactions with the museum. As the visitor studies intern, Daniela collects data, analyzes that data, and creates reports that will inform how the museum caters to its visitors. These studies range from the reception of events and exhibits, to personal reflections and opinions on the artwork and ways in which the museum engages the public.
Trina Sanyal - Somerville Media Center
Trina is working at the Somerville Media Center, a non-profit community media arts organization that provides meeting space, video training and mentoring, access to high-quality digital equipment and facilities, programming, and an art gallery for local artists. Trina is a production intern, producing documentary and community-based media for public access and SMC's channels. She is most inspired to focus on the voices of those often underrepresented in the Greater Boston area, and will work on several projects this semester that highlight this focus, including a series on professors of color in the Boston area, a highlight of Tufts student group ROOTs, and a focus on community organizations that are actively tackling Somerville's growing gentrification.
Caleb Seamon - MassVOTE
Caleb is working at MassVOTE, an organization that works to promote a culture of active political participation by providing civic organizations with the tools they need to organize, register, and educate voters, with an emphasis on historically disenfranchised communities. Caleb is working on MassVOTE’s New Voter Engagement programming, which aims to create a year-long voter education and participation initiative that will help build deeper connections with first-time, newly registered, and naturalized voters while cultivating them to become highly engaged voters. He is helping launch the initiative, track its progress, plan and coordinate voter registration drives, and support research for new voter engagement methods.
Anéya Sousa - Fenway Health
Anéya is working at Fenway health as a research recruiter. In this role under the direction of the Community Engagement Manager, Aneya recruits study participants for ongoing institute research protocols. She is scheduling and screening participants for various research protocols, assisting participants through various stages of research participation, implementing and evaluating study volunteer recruitment/outreach plan and programs, along with other supporting work. Anéya is also spending some time continuing to work with the education department on a trans health conference. Her project goals are to be able to engage with and assist in the organization and operation of various research projects at Fenway Health.
Matthew Tolbert - JumboVote
Matt's project is JumboVote, a nonpartisan democratic engagement group that is committed to empowering the Tufts Community to participate in our democracy on Election Day and beyond. Matt has been the leader of JumboVote for two years now, and led the university wide effort to get-out-the-vote for the 2018 midterm elections. His work this semester focuses on institutionalizing JumboVote so that the organization can thrive between major elections and beyond 2020. He is excited to continue cultivating relationships with other student organizations, affinity groups, and academic groups this semester.
Abdi Wakene - MassCOSH
Abdi is working at the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), a group that unites workers, unions and community groups with activists to end dangerous work conditions and organize for safe, secure jobs. Abdi works with the Teens Lead @ Work (TL@W) program on a campaign against heat stress in schools, doing research to empower students and teachers to advocate for solutions that protect their health and the quality of their education and jobs. He is also compiling an action guide for schools and teachers to address the issue of heat stress.
Katherine Wang - Asian Community Development Corporation
Katherine is working at the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), which works in underserved and immigrant Asian American communities in the Greater Boston area to create and preserve affordable, sustainable, and healthy neighborhoods. She is working with the Asian Voices of Organized Youth for Community Engagement (A-VOYCE) program, ACDC’s leadership development program for Asian American youth. Working as a program assistant for A-VOYCE in Malden, she is supporting the program’s development and building partnerships between the youth and local community stakeholders. She also revises training curricula and helps build tools for data collection.
Madeline Weir - Tufts First-Year Global Programs
As a Tufts 1+4 Spain alumna, Madeline was motivated to engage with the First-Year Global Programs again during her last year at Tufts. Her work encompasses research, engaging with current fellows and alumni, and building up the peer mentorship programs for Tufts 1+4 and the Tufts Civic Semester. Madeline is researching methods by which other global programs have successfully oriented students to campus in order to develop programming for the Civic Semester students once they return to Tufts for the spring term. In addition, she is working to connect alumni who are seeking opportunities for internships or to be involved with a group on campus or in the Greater Boston community.
Lidya Woldeyesus - St. Stephen’s Youth Programs
Lidya is working with St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, which aims to promote equity in education, employment and opportunity through long-term relationships with youth, their families, and communities. Lidya works alongside the Program Coordinator of the Youth Leadership Core, a leadership development program for middle school youth. She assists in creating programming, helping students identify their strengths; centering conversations around diversity and community engagement; and planning field trips that are insightful, intriguing and service-learning based. She also helps guide the middle schoolers through life experiences and forming mentor/mentee relationships.
Seble Yigletu - Takemi International Fellows Program
Seble is working at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health's Department of Global Health and Population as part of the Takemi Program in International Health, which brings mid-career public health professionals from all over the world to participate in a research fellowship for one year at Harvard. The Department of Global Health and Population at HSPH seeks to improve global health through education, research, and service from a population-based perspective. Seble’s serve as a program intern and also works more broadly with various faculty members in the department on assisting different global health projects such as writing policy briefs or assisting on research proposals.
Jonathan Yu - Greater Boston Legal Services, Asian Outreach Unit
Jonathan is working with the Asian Outreach Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services, he is working on conducting client intakes in the Chinatown clinic every Monday, which include issues such as employment, housing, and immigration. He helps follow up on these cases and provides brief services, advice, and referral to GBLS clients. Jonathan also engages in research and fact-finding for larger cases in order to resolve legal issues for clients.