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Civic Semester Fellows

Our inaugural class of Civic Semester Fellows is a diverse group of 12 students who spent the first term of their Tufts education in Urubamba, Peru, working part-time with a community organization while sharpening their Spanish-language skills and building on the academic work they completed on campus over the summer. These young leaders come from four countries and from all across the United states—from California, to Florida, to Maine—but they came together for a shared experience of service and learning that is shaping the rest of their Tufts education.

The 2019 Tufts Civic Semester Fellows are:

Ann Yancey Bassett

Hometown: Winston Salem, NC
High School: St. Andrew’s School

Ann is from Winston Salem, North Carolina. In high school, she attended a boarding school in Delaware called St. Andrew’s. There, she began to understand what it’s like to live away from home and meet people from all over the country and world. It is because of these incredible people from a variety of different backgrounds that she grew close to that she decided to apply for the Civic Semester in Urubamba; they taught her to get comfortable with uncomfortable questions and conversations, because they are what help us learn from one another. At St. Andrew’s she also had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Anaheim, where she developed a passion for social justice work. She's looking forward to connecting with and working alongside her classmates from Tufts and those that she will meet in Peru! She also loves running and is nervous but excited to test that out in Peru’s high altitudes!

Grace Chen

Hometown: Shenzhen, China
High School: Chase Collegiate School

Grace was born and grew up in a fairly young city, Shenzhen, which has only forty years of history and consists of people from all parts of China. This probably explains why she looks forward to places with strong cultural atmosphere. Studying in the US and living with a host family broadened her global perspective and also prompted her to see more parts of the world. After traveling to countries in Europe, Asia and North America, she's excited to visit Urubamba, Peru to learn about the culture and contribute to improving community health. In her high school, she organized fundraising for childhood cancer research and also engaged in other social service activities. In her free time, Grace loves to read and paint. She has a love for science, and is excited to see what this experience brings her and who it inspires her to be in the future.

Chiamaka Chukwu

Hometown: Cleveland, OH
High School: Cleveland School of Science and Medicine

Chiamaka was born in Enugu State, Nigeria, and immigrated to the United States when she was 11 years old in search of better educational opportunities and a more secure future. Ever since she was young she has always been invested in looking for ways to improve the world that we live in. When she was in high school Chiamaka started an organization called "Don't Stand By" which was focused on drawing awareness to the bullying that exists in her Cleveland community. For fun, she likes to go to the movies, watch Netflix, and spend time with her family. In the future, she wants to focus on the healthcare disparities that exist among women of color in hospitals as well as healthcare disparities that exist in third world countries. An example is her home country of Nigeria - she has witnessed the poor healthcare conditions at hospitals and there is a lot of room for improvements. Through experiencing different cultures, beliefs, and traditions through the Civic Semester, she will be able to examine the world through a more critical lens and answer the question - "How can I leave the world better than I found it?" 

Jason Curran

Hometown: Arroyo Grande, CA
High School: Central Coast New Tech High School

On summer nights and on the way to class, at weddings and at funerals, if there is music playing you'll find Jason dancing. It has always been Jason's niche; he's explored hip hop, ballet, contemporary, and (briefly) tap. He welcomes any opportunity to learn new styles - especially Latin styles like salsa and bachata. Jason is from Arroyo Grande, on the central coast of California, and has been raised to appreciate the unknown. He cannot imagine staying in one place for a lifetime, because he cannot ignore the nuanced familiarity that exists in the world. In his journey to Tufts and Peru he will dive headfirst into international relations and economics and finally get a foothold on the Spanish that eluded him throughout three years of high school classes.

Claire Ji

Hometown: Shenzhen, China
High School: Miss Porter's School

Yujie "Claire" Ji is originally from Shenzhen, China but attended an all-girl's boarding school in the United States. At school, she heavily invested in her leadership roles as a president of the Asian Student Alliance, a chief editor of the school newspaper, and a student ambassador to an international-relations-themed online forum. Outside the academic setting, Claire loves to participate in student diversity leadership workshops for underrepresented groups, read books (mostly sci-fis and detective novels), watch anime, play sports (squash, tennis, running, etc.), and sometimes blog/write short answers on Quora. Claire is extremely excited to spend her next semester in Peru, as she expects to better her Spanish skills and fully immerse herself in the study of a new culture and way of living. She also hopes that this valuable abroad opportunity will help her pursue her potential academic interest in international relations or public health.

Austen Money

Hometown: Blythewood, SC
High School: South Carolina Governors School for Arts and Humanities

Austen has lived in South Carolina for most of her life, and is beyond excited to explore Peru for several months! She is an artist who likes to research history and the natural world to find inspiration for her sculptures and paintings. Outside of her art practice, Austen also enjoys teaching. For the last three summers, she has taught math, reading, and computer programming to younger students, and is now volunteering as a painting and printmaking teacher at the Columbia Museum of Art. During the school year, Austen developed an interest in community service through her time as an officer of her school's NHS chapter. Austen also likes to read and cook, which are interests she is sure will be enhanced by the Peruvian literature and cuisine she will enjoy in the future. Through the Tufts Civic Semester, Austen is thrilled to combine her interests in art, teaching, and volunteering. She hopes to learn more about traditional weaving and ceramics in Peru, improve her Spanish through immersion, and broaden her perspective on the world. 

Victoria Rose

Hometown: Madison, WI
High School: Madison Country Day School

As an International Baccalaureate graduate from Madison Country Day School in Wisconsin, Victoria will kick-off her first semester at Tufts University in Urubamba, Peru. Having spent most of her childhood overseas moving from Uganda to Indonesia to Brazil and finally to Zimbabwe, Victoria looks forward to immersing herself in a new culture again. While in Peru she hopes to hone her Spanish skills and participate in community-based health projects. Victoria plans to major in Biology, and enjoys playing the piano and cello, listening to podcasts, and cooking delicious vegetarian food.

Olympia Swaby

Hometown: Bowie, MD
High School: The Field School

Olympia is from Bowie, Maryland and attended the Field School in Washington D.C. Growing up in her father's office, she had the opportunity to be exposed to the healthcare system at a young age and examine the difficulty of starting a business. Her summers are spent working alongside her parents in their internal medicine practice. Throughout high school, she participated in studio band, musical and theatre productions, and ran varsity cross country. She was able to discover a passion for social justice issues through involvement in feminism club and a regional non-profit organization for education. In her free time, she volunteered at Food & Friends and a Wider Circle in the D.C, Maryland, Virginia area. Her love for the Spanish language was developed upon various trips to Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada. This semester, she hopes to gain fluency of Spanish, immerse herself in Peruvian culture, and gain a new global perspective on education.

Yong Quan Tan

Hometown: Singapore
High School: Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)

Yong Quan comes from the sunny island of Singapore with a passion for international affairs, cultural research and community service. Throughout high school he developed his interests in global issues, economics, and dabbled a little into poetry. His favorite leisure activities include reading, going to the gym, and hanging out with friends. He became interested with the idea of travel when he learned Malay and spent his time in Malaysia and Indonesia while doing research on the cultures and history of both countries as part of his coursework as a Regional Studies Scholar. For the past two years Yong Quan has been serving with the Singapore Army as part of his National Service tenure, and he hopes to bring the lessons he has learned and his zeal for adventure into the inaugural Civic Semester cohort.

Abi Wool

Hometown: Portsmouth, NH
High School: Berwick Academy

Abi Wool is from Portsmouth, New Hampshire and has lived there her whole life, so she's incredibly excited to experience a completely different way of life this fall! Throughout high school she did a lot of theater and music and held many leadership positions, but the one she was most proud of was leading the Diversity Club, which left her with the sense that there is always more we can do for our society and those around us. This passion for social justice combined with her love for science led her to the field of Community Health which she hopes to study at Tufts while pursuing a pre-med track. Abi hopes that this semester abroad will help broaden her perspective on the world, deepen her understanding and empathy for our global community, and help her finally become fluent in Spanish! 

Isabelle Woollacott

Hometown: Kittery, ME
High School: R.W. Traip Academy

Isabelle grew up in a small town along the coast of Maine, where she was able to build an appreciation for her community and the natural world. In her own town, she developed a passion for learning about different cultures, the Spanish language, art, environmental protection and social justice, and she’s very excited to continue her work while at Tufts and in Urubamba. Isabelle’s desire for adventure and exploration has flourished as she’s gotten older, bringing her around the country from coast to coast, to Spain and to Peru for one short week on a service learning trip where she fell in love with the people and the landscape, meaning she’s very eager to return. At Tufts Isabelle plans to pursue a dual degree with the SMFA in Visual Arts and either International or Environmental studies with a minor in Spanish.

Waideen Wright

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL
High School: College Academy at Broward College

Waideen was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She graduated from College Academy at Broward College, simultaneously earning her high school diploma and Associate of Arts degree at the end of senior year. Throughout her high school/early college experience, she has participated in a variety of enriching programs and clubs, including an official National Honor Society position, serving as Vice President of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), and leading a social activism non-profit organization. Along with those accomplishments, she has also had the opportunity to intern at her local city hall, specializing in community development. When she's not working or doing any extracurriculars, her interests lie in books, art (embroidery and fashion), music, cooking, fitness and traveling. She's also very family-oriented; growing up with her four siblings and mother, she's always valued the family aspect that adds to her Jamaican heritage and culture, including sharing native dinners and celebrating holidays. It was through connecting with her own family and diverse town, watching lots of travel videos, and acknowledging the world’s beauty and damage that she decided to pursue an education in International Relations. She is beyond excited for the Tufts Civic Semester in Peru to broaden her perspective and world view, enhance her three years of menial Spanish, make lasting friendships and positively impact communities.