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17 Students Honored with Presidential Awards for Citizenship and Public Service

Friday, May 20, 2016

Conferred by Tufts President Anthony Monaco, the awards represent the highest recognition for civic engagement and leadership at the University.

Tisch Scholars who won Presidential Awards

The Tufts University Presidential Awards for Citizenship and Public Service honor exceptional graduating students from all undergraduate and graduate programs who have exhibited civic leadership and participated in outstanding community service during their time at Tufts. In partnership with Tisch College, the Presidential Awards support the University’s commitment to civic engagement by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments and celebrating the diverse ways to improve civic life.

We were honored to present the following students with the 2016 Presidential Awards at a ceremony on April 21, 2016. You can watch video of each student receiving his award.

Undergraduate Students

Adam Brooks, E16
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Adam is the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter at Tufts and was the driving force behind the ASCE student chapter Habitat for Humanity build day this past fall. One key example of Brooks’ active citizenship was his role addressing a water contamination issue in the dormitories as a result of a construction project. He worked with University faculty and administration to bring safe drinking water supplies to students. Adam was an effective liaison between University administration and his student peers as he carefully and effectively communicated the situation, action items, and status of the situation to his peers. Video

Phillip Ellison, A16
Africana Studies and History
Phil is a Tisch Scholar and focuses on educational access and equity. During his time at Tufts, he developed and tested ULink, a program and platform focused on increasing the transfer rate between community colleges and four year institutions, which is being piloted at Roxbury Community College. Phil is also engaged as a Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year Program mentor and is a leader in student activism, specifically around Black Lives Matter and Tufts 3 percent movements, striving to ensure the Tufts campus is an inclusive space for all students. Video

Arthur Fields, Jr, A16
Biology and Community Health
A.J. has engaged as an active citizen in the greater Boston community in a number of ways – through direct service, research, and policy-based work. He is a Tisch Scholar and last year worked with the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN), a prostate cancer education and awareness initiative targeting African American men, where he connected with and supported a growing cancer survivor network. His experience prompted him to write his senior thesis on describing the healthcare experiences of African American men. Video

Ananda Paez, A16
Before coming to Tufts, Ananda founded the Esperanza project, a social enterprise designed to help teen mothers in Ecuador, her home country. In 2015, she received a research grant to work with the Tibetan Women’s Association in India and helped prepare the organization for UN conferences that summer while also designed workshops to encourage entrepreneurship in women at the community-level. She has applied these skills to an internship at the World Bank aiding in the design, implementation, and evaluation of over 20 water and sanitation projects. On campus, Ananda has been a major force for the Institute for Global Leadership’s New Initiative for Middle East Peace and conducted research in Amman, Jordan, on Jordanian political self-perception. Video

Margaret Ringler, A16
Margaret has an impressive portfolio of civic engagement work: at Tufts, in the Boston area, and abroad. At Tufts she leads a 45 person student hotline called Ears for Peers, to which she has devoted over 500 hours since September 2012. Since September 2015 she has served as an education intern tutoring high-risk youth in Boston for GED and workforce readiness preparation, and she is conducting independent research on promoting young adults’ voices in criminal justice. In her junior year, Margaret studied in Cameroon through the Middlebury School in Africa program, where she worked as an Intake and Database Intern for the Association Camerounaise des Femmes Juristes, in Yaoundé, repairing bugs in the electronic database so ACAFEJ could change from paper to electronic records and save valuable resources. Video

Abuzar Royesh, A16
International Relations
Abuzar, a participant of the Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship, is originally from Kabul, Afghanistan. He created the One, Two, Three Project, an education and leadership project for male youths in the Chahar-Rahi Qanbar internally displaced persons camp with the aim of combatting the appeal of extremism in Afghanistan. He also initiated the Bridges Academy for at-risk Afghan youth in juvenile rehabilitation centers and IDP camps around Afghanistan. Abuzar’s research has also focused on security and corruption in post-Gaddafi Libya. Video

Sharad Sagar, A16
International Relations
Sharad founded the Dexterity Global Company, a unique nonprofit enterprise, and is responsible for its continued operation and its four components: DexConnect, DexChallenge, DexSchool, and Dex2College. His work was mentioned by Dr. Joyce Yen Feng at the Social Enterprise World Forum and has been featured on university syllabi, in a major Bank’s annual corporate social responsibility report, on Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 list of social entrepreneurs, and named as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Next Century Innovators. Sharad also holds the title of the only freshman to win the Tufts $100K Entrepreneurial Competition. Video

Yaritsa Sánchez, A16
Economics and Drama
Yaritsa joined the Tisch Scholars program in 2013 and for the past three years has worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations focused on youth empowerment and leadership development, including with Teen Empowerment, an organization in Somerville that provides opportunities for youth to explore local social issues. Because of her work with Teen Empowerment, she became passionate about theater as a vehicle for self-expression and empowerment. Yaritsa spent two summers with Rosie’s Theater Kids in New York City. This year, Sanchez has worked with Boston Mobilization supporting youth in learning about and dismantling systemic oppression. Her double major balances her logistical and linear Economics studies with her creative and expressive Drama work, and this spring she will be directing the play she wrote about a Dominican family living in the United States that touches on many intersectional issues. Video

Wayne Yeh, A16
American Studies
Throughout his time at Tufts, Wayne successfully wove together his passion for social justice and active citizenship through his work over the past three years as a Tisch Scholar and Tisch Summer Fellow. His prolonged engagement in the community, connection to community members, and passion for addressing community-based issues have served him well in a variety of roles, from youth mentor to community organizer. Last summer, he was accepted to the Seeding Change program, a national fellowship program for Asian American activists and organizers. This year, he was voted to serve as one of two senior Scholar Representatives to the Tisch College Board of Advisors. Within the wider Tufts community, he has built connections with many students through his involvement with a range of programs, including the Asian American Alliance, the BLAST Scholars Program, Orientation, and the Office of Campus Life. Video

Graduate Students

Amanda Aldous, AG16
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Amanda is dedicated to bettering the environment around her. If she was available to assist with a program, her response was always an immediate one of how to help. Amanda has volunteered for outreach programs, which included leading a portion of department tours for either undergraduate or high school students, talking with prospective students and parents at Jumbo Days, and judging local science fair competitions. She also contributed significantly to the advertising of outreach programs to other graduate students. Video

Anne C. Stephie Castera, D16
School of Dental Medicine
Anne has a long and rich commitment to public service. Central to her work has been the provision of oral health care and education to those from the most disenfranchised communities both globally and at the local level. Anne has held key leadership roles in several student organizations, and her community work takes her into neighborhoods throughout the greater Boston area to those who need care the most. Her work has also taken her around the globe to Zambia and Haiti. Both of these dental school-connected excursions were service trips focused on helping underserved communities and promoting oral health. The experiences ignited a passion for global health. And, reflecting on these experiences, she sees how her team of dental students did their utmost to provide the best dental care they could while being socially aware of their surroundings. Video

Tess Gannaway, V16
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Tess has been a leader the last four years through various Campus organizations, includingVeterinarians for Global solutions, One Health initiative and promoting women’s role in Veterinary Medicine. Tess served as Co-President for the Cummings International Medicine Club and was the founding president for the New England Students for One Health club. She is also the Founding President of the Tufts Chapter of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI). The WVLDI was founded to help support women seeking and achieving leadership, policy, and decision-making positions within all areas of professional veterinary activity. Last summer she researched the Effects of Gender Related Risk Factors and Opisthorchis viverrini (OV) Infection on Cholangiocarcinoma in Ban Nong Wa, Thailand, an important research initiative to reduce the disease risk for women in many developing Asian countries. Video

Ashley Jean, M16
School of Medicine
Ashley began her time at TUSM by becoming involved in the IDEAS in Medicine program with Chelsea Middle School. Rather than simply offering the afterschool time as a time for homework help, which was not always engaging for either the middle-schoolers or the volunteers, she took the initiative to create a series of enrichment activity lesson plans. Ashley put that same energy into her leadership role with Bountyshare, a partnership in Portland Maine with a homeless serving organization called Preble Street. She organized a number of volunteer events engaging Maine Track students in serving meals twice a month at Preble Street and organizing collection drives for both clothing and shelf-stable food items for their food pantry. She has also been involved in service in other ways, such as the Doc4aDay program and serving as a Community Service Learning Peer Facilitator where she has provided advisement and guidance to her advisees during their CSL selection, participation, and final reflections. Video

Bina Julian, SK17
Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
Bina has done amazing work with the Tufts Biomedical Business Club, which she headed for two years. She has used her engineering background to create a leadership platform for PhD students on the Boston campus and led the club and managed a team of students for two years that was able to bring many people’s individual visions (TUNECC) to fruition. In addition, she created a space in the school where students could learn about the diverse career options available to scientists as well as provided them the opportunity to become leaders themselves. She is personally responsible for helping members of the Sackler community realize their own leadership potential. In addition to TBBC, she has been involved in the Tufts Entrepreneurial Network since 2014 and for several years worked closely with the Gordon Institute to include students on the Boston campus in the Tufts $100K business plan competition and other entrepreneurial events. Video

Jennifer Nwankwo, SK16
Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
Jennifer sparked an interest in careers in consulting on Sackler’s campus, and the effects have been profound. She has led initiatives to help others who might be feeling the same through the Tufts Biomedical Business Club (TBBC). She has invited speakers from high profile consulting firms from all across Boston and Cambridge to speak and recruit on Tufts’ Boston campus. Jennifer also spearheaded the first life sciences-focused case study competition, TUNECC (Tufts New England Case Study Competition). TUNECC is now in its third year, and has succeeded in bringing top tier consulting firms to Tufts each year to vet and recruit PhD students. Her efforts have allowed many members of the Tufts community to realize their own leadership potential. Video

Sarina Selleck, V17
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
While in her first year, Sarina had the idea of combining her passion for One Health with her desire to help underserved pet owners. She began working on the Veterinary Outreach Program in Worcester. Through this project, veterinary students deliver preventive care to underserved pet owners under veterinary supervision. Sarina has had three grants funded in support of this project. Selleck has also been active in student government and SCAVMA. She was a founding member of the schools’ very active One Health Club which has organized three One Health Days over the past year and a half. Last summer, she participated in a USDA infectious disease internship and conducted a research project in Bangladesh. Video

Kirsten Zeiter, F16
The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy
Kirsten’s leadership at Fletcher has ranged from Student Council, to organizing the first Gender Conference, to serving on the Tufts Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee. She has established herself as a community builder with a passion for gender studies, and in her first year, she joined Fletcher’s Gender Initiative, a student group dedicated to improving the quality of the Fletcher experience by researching elements of inequality and bias in students’ academic, social, and professional communities and then proposing solutions to address problem areas. Kirsten spearheaded the first annual Conference on Gender and International Affairs, and she was selected to be the Program Design and Evaluation Specialist for the Fletcher Women’s Leadership and Gender Equality Program because of her credibility in gender studies and her support among faculty, administrative staff, and the student body. Video