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14 Students Receive 2017 Presidential Award for Civic Life

Friday, May 5, 2017

The awards are the highest honors conferred by Tufts University for achievements in leadership, service, and civic engagement.

2017 Presidential Awards

The Presidential Awards for Civic Life honor exceptional graduate and undergraduate students from all Tufts schools who have undertaken extraordinary civic leadership and community service activities during their time at Tufts. They exemplify the University’s commitment to civic engagement by recognizing these accomplishments and celebrating the myriad ways students contribute to civic life.

At an award ceremony hosted by Tufts President Anthony Monaco on April 28, we were honored to help present 14 students with the 2017 Presidential Award for Civic Life. You can watch full video of the award ceremony or click on the link or click on the "Video" link on each student's bio to start the video at that student's introduction.

Undergraduate Students

Carissa Fluery, A18

School of Arts and Sciences

Carissa is passionate about education reform and hopes to open a school dedicated to culturally competent education and development of children and youth of color. She currently serves as the Director of the Strong Women, Strong Girls initiative in Somerville, where she has helped create a new curriculum, pulling from her relevant coursework, that specifically addresses the needs and concerns of people of color. Carissa was also a Tisch Summer Fellow at Somerville’s Welcome Project, where she developed a cirriculum for the student summer program, fundraised, and led the two-week-long summer camp. Video

Benya Kraus, A18

School of Arts and Sciences

Benya serves as the Diversity and Community Affairs Officer for the TCU Senate and chairs the TCU Senate’s Culture, Ethnicity & Community Affairs Committee. She has interned and volunteered with a number of organizations, including Amnesty International, The Oslo Freedom Forum, and the Massachusetts State Senate. Benya served as the Youth Ambassador at the Asia and Pacific Population Conference of the United Nations, where she spoke before 53 country delegations on youth sexuality, gender, and health rights. She also engaged in the youth summit’s drafting of a resolution on the AIDS epidemic and youth policies, which was submitted to the UN General Assembly. Video

Christin Mujica, A17

School of Arts and Sciences

Christin is an advocate for first-generation college students with low-income backgrounds and is a member of EASE, a working group for low-income students committed to civic engagement, where she established a meal bank, worked with Tufts departments to offer free tickets to events, and conducted research to find ways to give financial support to low-income students during Senior Week. A member of the President’s Sexual Assault Task Force, Christin also volunteers with Dimock Health Center in Dorchester to help low-income patients find resources for job training, emergency shelter and other basic needs. Video

Michael (Yifei) Wang, A17

School of Arts and Sciences

Michael is a Tisch Scholar and very committed to working with Chinatown’s many stakeholders. He led voter registration efforts in the neighborhood, protests of gentrification, and implemented a health needs survey of the community. He also worked to create a sustainable development plan at the Asian Community Development Corporation. Michael participated in the Tisch Summer fellow twice–first with the New York Academy of Medicine and also with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, where he issues hundreds of private right of action letters and helped pilot the Wage Theft Clinic. Video

Anissa Waterhouse, A17

School of Arts and Sciences

Anissa is a Tisch Scholar and an IB Advisor at Josiah Quincy Upper School in Chinatown, where she mentors and guides high school students through the IB program. She is also a founding member of Black Lives Matter Tufts Organizing Coalition and has presented at numerous conferences on a variety of subjects, including: importance of intentional dialogue at Association for Moral Education Annual Conference; experiences of mixed-race individuals at Harvard’s Alumni of Color Conference; high need financial aid students at the NACADA Region 1 Conference; and first generation students and students of color at the LAANE Conference. Video

Alex Kim, E17

School of Engineering

Alex is a three-year starter for the Tufts University varsity football team and a member of the student athlete advisory committee. He has been a key organizer with Tufts’ Relay for Life since 2011, where he’s helped raise thousands for the American Cancer Society. Through his role on the football team, he has organized multiple community service events, including the team’s Somerville Homeless Coalition coat drive for the past three years and the Mystic River clean-up day in partnership with the Mystic River Watershed Association. Alex also works with and mentors underprivileged youth through the Level the Field program. Video

Andre Newland, E17

School of Engineering

Andre is an inaugural member and peer leader in the STEM Ambassadors program, a collaboration between the Center for STEM Diversity and Tisch College. Andre was selected as one of two “ambassador leaders” in 2015 and has led the community partnerships component of the program, liaising with teachers at high schools and coordinating content and schedule of presentations. Andrew is also involved with Tufts JumboCode leading a U.S. Peace Corps recipes project to develop a database and mobile app for Peace Corps volunteers all over the world to connect and share nutritional recipes. Video

Graduate and Professional School Students

Sarah Crain, V17

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Sarah is a Provost Scholar in the third year of her Ph.D. program in the Clinical Science Department at the Cummings School. She volunteers as a veterinary surgeon for spay and neuter clinics at local rescue societies. She is also involved in local education initiatives, especially those focused on girls. Sarah has served as the k-12 STEM outreach program assistant organizing day-long interactive experiences for seventh and eighth grade girls at Worcester schools. She also volunteers annually for Geek is Glam and Girls Inc. Sarah represented Cummings at FIRST LEGO League, which challenges children in 80 countries to “think like scientists and engineers.” Video

Ammar Karimjee, F17

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Ammar is pursuing his masters in International Business with a focus on Strategic Management & International Consultancy and Development Economics. During his time at Fletcher, he served on the Student Council, working to make the Council a more cohesive and proactive group. Ammar leads the Fletcher Social Investment Group, a student-run impact investing organization that provides advisory services to socially-focused startups. He leads the “advisory services” section of the club, recruits companies, scopes projects, and constructs the student teams. Ammar also works closely with his sister advocating against female genital mutilation and has written articles and spoken at the UN and on This American Life to raise awareness. Video

Angga Dwi Martha, F17

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Angga was the Indonesian Youth Delegate to the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly, advising the Indonesian Vice President on youth concerns regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He also helped the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth launch the SDG Youth Action Mapper to help young people map their profiles and join local actions. Angga has represented Fletcher and Tufts at the UN Climate Change Conferences and was awarded the Ambassador’s Excellence Award in 2016 by the Indonesian Ambassador to the United States. At Fletcher, Angga is the co-president of the ASEAN Society, the Ambassachords, and the Fletcher Performing Arts Club. Video

Elise Harris, G17

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Elise was the co-leader of the Graduate Women of Color Forum at Tufts and a graduate intern for the Africana Center, serving as a mentor, facilitator, and event organizer. She was involved with the Society for Research on Adolescence, pushing their scholarly agenda to expand to include the Black Lives Matter movement and other important efforts. Elise was also a Visiting Facilitator in Youth Leadership and Development at Madison Park Development Corporation in Roxbury, where she led group discussions and training around job readiness for high school students. Video

Alexis Irby, D17

School of Dental Medicine

Alexis has been a leader, organizer, and participant in several programs which aim to create opportunities for local community members, including with the Boston Area Health Education Center Summer Internship Program, Increasing Diversity in Dentistry Program, the Impressions Day Program, and through IDEAs in Medicine. Alexis co-founded the Tufts Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion and is active with both the Tufts and Nations chapters of the Student National Dental Association, which aims to improve oral healthcare in underserved communities and enhance educational opportunities of minorities underrepresented in oral health fields. Video

Lauren Vargas, D17

School of Dental Medicine

Lauren is the Tufts University Chapter President of the Hispanic Dental Association. In this role, she organized community health fairs in Greater Boston to provide oral health screenings and instruction to underserved populations. Lauren was an organizer, fundraiser, and participant in the 2016 Global Service Learning trip to the Dominican Republic to provide free dental care to underserved communities. Video

Rebecca Lee, M17

School of Medicine

Rebecca coordinated the first annual Health and Human Rights week at TUSM with lectures, workshops, screenings, and a keynote, funded by the Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. She also founded a coalition of students from all four medical schools in Massachusetts, the Student Coalition on Addiction, to tackle issues around the opioid epidemic and collaborate with Governor Baker and Public Health Commissioner Bharel to implement new legislations and curricular changes. Rebecca is also a Community Service Learning Peer Advisor, supporting other students in their community service learning experience in both India and Ecuador. Video