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2015 Napier Fellows

Zoe Brown - Pitzer College

Zoe's proposed project is to implement writing and storytelling workshops in prisons and transitional homes for women in Seattle. Her goal is to create a much-needed space that fosters the women's self-empowering, critical thinking and mechanisms for creative expression in order to facilitate successful reintegration into society. She will develop these workshops in partnership with the Women's Wellness and Integrative Social Health program in Seattle. At Pitzer Zoe has created a major in “public health: the social determinants of health,” especially incorporating courses with a community-engagement component. During her college years she has gained considerable experience working with writing and wellness programs in a juvenile detention center and two prisons and also with Crossroads in Claremont. She has participated in summer programs studying health care in Kenya and Mexico and interned with a health-care access program in Seattle as a means of furthering her understanding of best community approaches for achieving social, physical, and emotional wellness.

Priyva Donti - Harvey Mudd College

Priya proposes to spend one year designing and implementing an after-school educational program that teaches middle schoolers about technology through hands-on problems in environmental sustainability. This project, bringing together students from Claremont and Pomona, will help increase enthusiasm and engagement in STEM and environmental sustainability and also encourage cross-cultural interactions between students in the two cities. The plan is to produce curricular and teaching materials that can be used also in other settings, as well as to run the program during her Napier year. Priya's preparation for this project includes her experience as co-president of Science Bus, a student-run club that sends Claremont Colleges students to teach weekly lessons to elementary school students in Pomona. She has also been president of the HMC environmental club and is currently working with the HMC Board of Trustees on “green” investment.

Hong Deng Gao - Pomona College

Hong has developed a project called Health Bridges, envisioning a world in which immigrants, regardless of their linguistic skills, income level, or legal status, face no barriers to timely health services. The pilot project would be with Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, which has a large low-income immigrant patient population and limited translation capacity. Hong proposes to give extensive training to bilingual volunteers from the Claremont Colleges to assist patients who do not speak English in navigating the hospital system to obtain health resources for which they are eligible. Hong herself speaks three dialects of Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese. She has been giving leadership at the Draper Center for Community Partnerships and in tutoring programs for local schools. She has done research on the immigrant experience and was a communications intern for Legal Services NYC and development and marketing intern for the American Italian Cancer Foundation, NYC.

Sarah Han - Scripps College

Sarah, a Human Biology major with an emphasis on public health, calls Humboldt County, CA, home. Humboldt County is a medically underserved, rural area with high incidence of poor health and the highest death rates in California. She proposes to work with Open Door Community Health Centers, a safety-net health provider for the North Coast of CA, to encourage health-care reform towards holistic, patient-centered health care, focusing on increasing community access to the social determinants of health. Open Door's program called RX for Wellness encourages health-care providers to prescribe treatment plans such as visiting the community garden on foot and harvesting produce when patients suffer from inactivity and poor nutrition. RX for Wellness has been implemented at one of Open Door's sites. Sarah will work to deploy this program at the other sites. She was a summer research assistant at USC dealing with health-care for the homeless.

Claire Hirschberg- Scripps College

Last summer Claire worked as an intern with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), a statewide coalition fighting mass incarceration. She focused especially on opposing the increase in plans for “gender responsive” prisons and jails. She developed skills as an organizer to engage people around this issue. At Scripps she is organizing a program to visit immigrants in confinement, and she is writing her honors thesis on “Carceral Humanism and Ethics of Care in Gender Responsive Incarceration.” As her project she proposes to return to work with CURB to fight gender responsive jail expansions across the state. She plans to develop outreach presentations and activist training to empower communities to fight those expansions, supporting their existing local efforts. She also plans to write a blog highlighting California's shifting carceral landscape and connecting activists.


Molly Luftus- Claremont McKenna College

Molly's project relates to environmental sustainability and positive social mobility. During her study abroad in Dakar, Senegal last summer, she noticed an excess of fruit that venders do not sell. This was the inspiration for her project: educating a community to create a solar dehydrator composed of recycled materials in order to preserve fruit that would otherwise go to waste. Once the fruit is dehydrated, the community can learn how to package and sell the salvaged fruit. This will offer opportunity for a business predominately run by women, empowering them. Molly will partner with two organizations promoting sustainable development and positive social transformation in Africa: Tostan and SenEco. She hopes to be able to locate her project in the two villages where she visited and stayed with families, creating a relationship.

Yi Luo - Claremont McKenna College

Yi is an experienced documentary filmmaker. She believes that what is lacking in environmental policymaking in both the US and China is the view of environment, energy, development, and sustainability through a humanitarian lens. Economic and scientific data and knowledge have dominated policy. She believes the narrative power of documentary filmmaking can help broaden the perspectives of society. She proposes as her project to make documentaries in China and submit them to film festivals in the US and China to raise public awareness. One will be the story of the few remaining nomadic Mongolians in Inner Mongolia of China. One will be about a rural peasant woman who has helped her community prosper while maintaining a traditional lifestyle. A third will explore development in Shenzhen, where she grew up.

Joyce Nimocks - Pomona College

An environmental analysis major, Joyce proposes to create a series of alternative, sustainable cosmetic workshops for Black women on the south side of Chicago. She is experienced in making cosmetics from natural ingredients, avoiding the heavily advertised toxic, potentially carcinogenic cosmetics to alter skin tone and hair texture. She will use Napier funds to secure local spaces to promote dialogue among women in low-income communities about potential dangers in commercial cosmetics and the use of non-toxic ingredients. Napier funds will also be used to purchase sustainable ingredients for the women in the workshops to use in crafting their own cosmetic products. Joyce hopes to evoke conversation about self-love, self-care, and education as tools for empowerment and social justice. She proposes to sustain the project by creating a community blog to connect participants in the workshops and continue the conversation about sustainable and healthy beauty practices among African-American women.


Matt O'Connor and Don Swan - Pomona College

Matt and Don propose creating a mentorship program between student-athlete mentors from Pomona and Pitzer Colleges and high school athlete leaders from the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD). It would be called 3-P 3-D: 3-P for Pomona and Pitzer Colleges, PUSD; 3-D for core values of desire, discipline, and dedication. Both Matt and Don have extensive experience tutoring PUSD students. They believe that young athletes are important role models for their communities and it is important to help them learn that academic achievement is as “cool” as success on the field. These high school students in turn can help transform the culture of the high schools. The model proposed would bring together 5 athlete leaders at each PUSD high school with two college athletes bi-weekly, and the entire group would gather monthly. Academic achievement would be regularly monitored and higher education strongly encouraged.

Margaret (Mari) Pettibone - Pitzer College

Already an experienced health educator for underserved communities, Margaret proposes to expand the Wellness Center for the Costanoan Rumsen Ohlone Tribe members living in Pomona as her Napier project. In her role as Community Health Liaison for Claremont Colleges and Western Medical School, it is her job to assist the Director of the Native American Pipeline to College and members of the tribe in reviving the Wellness Center, which has languished for lack of personnel. She is already teaching classes on nutrition, wellness, diabetes, and exercise, and planning for what more needs to be done. After graduation she hopes to be able to realize the potential of the Wellness Center to serve the great needs of the tribal members. She also wants to foster interest among the American Indian youth in careers in health care. She has worked in health clinics in Mexico, Costa Rica, and San Francisco.

Jennifer Renick - Pitzer College

A major in community mental health: schools and youth, Jennifer proposes to organize a mental health intervention program in the Pomona area, based at public middle and high schools, especially Garey High School. Its main components would be a summer education series focused around family dinners, the creation of mental health libraries, and fostering sustained collaboration between local mental health agencies and public school workers. The project would reduce inequality by providing culturally sensitive and community accessible mental health programming to those parents and children most at need. She particularly hopes to provide culturally sensitive mental health education in the Latino community. Jennifer has wide experience working in schools for suicide prevention, mental health crisis response, pregnancy support, and mental health education for parents.

Laurel Schwartz and Meghan Gallagher - Scripps College

Laurel and Meghan intend to create a media institute for middle school girls. For a month in the summer girls will learn about critical media theory while producing short films. The goal of the institute is to put creative, representative control into the hands of young women to give them the tools for self-representation. Through the combination of classes, workshops, and production, they will create a short film in groups of three. The institute is planned to give teenage girls the opportunity to develop their public-speaking skills, in addition to helping them gain budgeting and teamwork experience. In a world where girls are so often objectified by the media, the program is designed to develop their self-confidence and leadership potential. Laurel and Meghan will partner with Independent Filmmaker Project MN in St. Paul, MN, and Scripps College Academy in Claremont, CA.


Jacob Shimkus - Claremont McKenna College

Jacob intends to help lead a team of students at the College of the Marshall Islands in tailoring climate adaptation curriculum to local youth (ages 10-14) and support them in refining and presenting an environmental education program throughout the Marshall Islands. As a series of small, low-lying islands, the Marshall Islands are on the front lines of climate change. Involving everyone from local leaders to youth in climate adaptation is therefore crucial to the nation's future. Drawing on Jacob's work with Living Islands, the US-Marshallese nonprofit development organization, this project aims to create a direct link between Marshallese youth and older Marshallese students, encouraging them to engage one another in these important issues and to become community leaders in sustainability and climate adaptation. Jacob has done similar work in the US and development work in Kenya and Peru.

Emma Zang-Schwartz - Harvey Mudd College

Emma proposes a project to expand a food-related microbusiness in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Jinotega is a mountainous region, isolated from resources, with serious malnutrition of children. Two non-profit groups, Esperanca, headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, and Association of Volunteers for Community Development (AVODEC), a local partner in Nicaragua, have begun a program in Jinotega to provide families with 5 chickens and a rooster, along with information on how to care for them. Emma has worked in the Phoenix office of Esperanca, and now she would like to work with Nicaragua to expand this program. She will be responsible for initiating the next step, where families will pass along to other families some of the chickens and also information on how to care for them, so that the program will be sustainable. Emma is a global health major and has studied in Chile.

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