Building Robust & Inclusive Democracy

16 Students Honored with Tufts Presidential Award for Civic Life

On April 18, Tisch College was pleased to join Tufts President Anthony Monaco in presenting the 2019 Presidential Awards for Civic Life. The morning reception was an inspiring celebration of 16 Tufts students, representing nearly every Tufts school, who distinguished themselves through extraordinary efforts as civically engaged leaders on campus, in local communities, or across the globe.

"The Presidential Awards for Civic Life are, in my estimation, the highest honors conferred on students by Tufts University," said Tisch College Dean Alan Solomont during introductory remarks. "They reflect the institution’s foundational values and its most important mission: to educate generations of young people who will solve difficult problems, strengthen our democracy, and create a brighter world."

Read about the 2019 Presidential Award recipients, and click on each link to watch his or her award presentation. You can also check out our Facebook album for photos of each winner and more pictures from the ceremony.

Undergraduate Students

Ashley Alphonse, A19

Ashley was a member of the Tisch Scholars program since 2016, working in a wide array of placements and providing valuable support to community-based organizations. She was an extraordinary mentor, serving as a Teaching Assistant for the “Civic Identity, Reflection, and Action” Tisch Scholar course and helping to creating a sense of community for new Scholars. Ashley also held a leadership position in Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts (BLAST). Through that organization, she helped promote values of academic excellence, civic engagement, and leadership for students who may be first in their family to attend a four-year college, and/or had attended under-resourced high schools. Watch Video

Jacqueline Cabral, A19

Jacqueline’s passion for combining community engagement with science policy allowed her to bolster access to healthcare and the rights of underserved communities. She served as a Tisch Summer Fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine, where she advanced research and advocated for policy changes to better support low-income communities. Jacqueline also worked to bring community organizations into the public health process, establishing them as stakeholders while working to erase the racial health disparities she saw in access to services for underserved families. She also conducted research and volunteered around the globe, lending herself to challenges from conducting research on clinical disorders and mental health to volunteering at a cancer clinic in Madrid. Watch Video

Evan Cook, A19

Evan was a Tisch Scholar who went above and beyond, both in his coursework and community projects advocating for fair housing in Somerville. Volunteering through the Somerville Community Corporation and collaborating with the city government, Evan engaged multiple stakeholders in tacking an issue he continues to approach with passion. Evan also became the first student to be selected for competitive fellowships through Tisch Summer Fellows three years in a row. He managed to do all of this while being an active leader on campus: from offering free consultations to nonprofits through 180 Degrees Consulting, to being a member of Synaptic Scholars. Watch Video

Maureen Kalimba Isimbi, E19

Maureen is the founder of Kalimba Education, winner of Tufts Entrepreneurship Center’s Montle Prize in 2017, which connects Rwandan primary students to donors who wish to support them in completing  their education. She also co-founded another nonprofit, Let Her Be, aimed at eliminating female genital mutilation in Nigeria. Outside of her outstanding portfolio of tackling challenging international issues, Maureen served as TCU International Community Senator, treasurer of the Tufts National Society of Black Engineers, and was one of just nine outstanding young leaders recognized globally as a SHE-CAN Foundation Scholar. Watch Video

Bethany Kirby, A19

Bethany is truly committed to service and civic engagement. Throughout her time at Tufts, she made a mark on staff, students, and local children as a Jumpstart Team Leader and Volunteer Coordinator. Bethany also worked closely alongside Tufts' Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Robert Mack, to launch the FIRST Resource Center, committing herself to raising awareness to issues of inequity first generation students face on college campuses. Her civic involvement on campus also included being a Tisch Summer Fellows and serving as President of the Leonard Carmichael Society. Watch Video

Anjalique Knight, A19

During her time at Tufts, Anjalique was heavily involved with the Africana Center, helping to organize countless events empowering Black students on campus. She also organized community meetings between students and the Tufts administration through her involvement with the #ThreePercent group, culminating in establishing the Students Quest for Unity in the African Diaspora (SQUAD) pre-orientation program for incoming first-year students. Anjalique also channeled her passion into important research at the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. Watch Video

Jesse Najarro Cermeño, A19

As a Tufts student, Jesse committed himself to addressing community health challenges. He regularly traveled to Lowell and Lawrence to work with individuals suffering from addiction in partnership with the Life-Connection Center; that work culminated in his senior thesis. Jesse also served as a Fellow with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he conducted systematic reviews of transgender persons’ reproductive health, hoping to better understand gaps in literature and inform future policies. He also served as a member of the Admissions Diversity Council at Tufts. In that role, he helped organize overnight visits for low-income and underrepresented high school students interested in learning about Tufts. Watch Video

Melanie Ramirez, A19

Melanie is an exceptional example of a leader in the Tufts community. She held a leadership position in STEM Ambassadors, a group of first-generation college students presenting on STEM topics in local high schools. Through her leadership in that organization, she promoted civic engagement, leadership, and professional development to address educational equity issues within the greater Boston community. Melanie also served as co-president of the Tufts Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, and as a Clinic Coordinator and Clinic Volunteer for the Tufts University School of Medicine's Sharewood Free Clinic, serving youth and families in Malden. Watch Video

Graduate and Professional Students

Pedro Cárdenas Casillas, F19

Pedro interned at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, where he worked with a Monitoring Unit for Mexico and Central America researching means of protecting human rights activists. He also volunteered with Peace Brigades International, an organization committed to providing support to local human rights defenders working in areas of conflict. During his time at Fletcher, Pedro also committed himself to promoting healthy dialogues by running Fletcher’s Bridging Differences through Dialogue sessions. Through these and other activities, Pedro has been a tremendous force for good within the Fletcher community and around the world. Watch Video

Emily Geldwert, M19

Emily has contributed in countless ways to her community, undertaking more than 1,000 hours of community service and becoming one of the most impressive young leaders at the Tufts University School of Medicine. She led the Sharewood Project’s Sexual and Reproductive health clinic and volunteered for a partner abuse hotline serving survivors of partner abuse from the LBGQT, SM, and polyamorous communities. She also received a prestigious Schweitzer Fellowship, planned conferences addressing addiction, and has led multiple intercollegiate student coalitions on addiction. Watch Video

Gabrielle Lieberman, D19

Gabrielle has been a proven leader in her Tufts University School of Dental Medicine community. She served as co-general manager of Give Kids a Smile, a day of free dental treatments and health education for underserved kids. Gabrielle also served as a Student Coordinator and Lead Presenter for the local chapter of the oral health literacy program Lessons in a Lunchbox, while also serving as an organizer of a dental service learning trip to Dominican Republic. She also served her peers in countless ways, as president of the Tufts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, through involvement with the the Tufts Teachers Association and Healthy Literacy program, and as a volunteer at the Special Olympics. Watch Video

Alice Maggio, AG19

Alice was a strong leader in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program and the broader Graduate School of Arts & Sciences community. She’s done innovative work managing and developing local community economic development programs while extending her impact internationally by serving with MIT’s Community Innovators Lab in supporting a global alliance of values-based banking. She’s also shared her vision with many of her peers: from giving a TEDx talk on sustainable economies to serving in the public sector with the New York City Office of the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. Alice managed to do all of that while also organizing and running an innovative program in the Berkshires focused on community land trusts, encouraging community wealth, and sustainability. Watch Video

Timothy Manalo, SMFA19

Tim was a founding Member of PEAR (Pilipino Education and Advocacy Resources), a grassroots initiative advocating for the rights and wellbeing of Fiipinos in the Philippines and abroad. By working closely with local Filipino student groups and Asian and Pan-Asian organizations, he led actions that aimed to build awareness, unite, and empower Filipinos residing in the Greater Boston Area. Tim was also selected to represent School of the Museum of Fine Arts at the Tufts at the Arts Environments: Design, Resilience, and Sustainability National Conference with students from across the United States, and he coordinated a gallery exhibit called "Responding with Representation" at the conference. Watch Video

Eleana Manousiouthakis, EG19

Eleana was an engaged leader in her Graduate School of Engineering community, holding leadership roles in the Graduate Society of Women Engineers (GSWE) and the Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Graduate Society (BEaChES), and serving as Department Representative for Biomedical Engineering. She was also praised for her above-and-beyond mentorship of undergraduates and other graduate students in her lab. Eleana was also an active volunteer who has been involved for five years with Scientists, Inc., including serving as co-founder and coordinator for the  Boston/Cambridge chapter of the organization. Watch Video

India Napier, V20

India has been a strong voice promoting diversity among the veterinary school community, and she has helped build a nurturing and collaborative environment among her peers. She served as co-president of her Class Council for over two years, served on the search committee for the new Dean of the Cummings School, and served as the student representative on the Cummings’ Promotions Committee. She also held numerous other leadership positions, including co-president of the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners, through which she organized lecturers focused on the health and wellbeing of animals used for research. Watch Video

Anne-Marie Vu, D19

Anne-Marie was a recipient of the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Fellowship for her project on Oral Health Education for Children with Autism, which included developing trainings, lesson plans, and toolkits. She also spent a gap year serving as an assistant to TUSDM's Director of Health Communication, focusing intently on health literacy, research, education, and promotion. Anne-Marie also helped organize and participate in dental service learning trips to Haiti in coordination with Dentists for Humanity, including fundraising and recruiting volunteers. Watch Video