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2016 Napier Fellows

Fiker Bekele- Pomona College

Fiker is passionate about issues with street children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is specifically concerned about the epidemic of glue-sniffing. Glue-sniffing is used to numb emotional, physical, and sexual violence experienced by these children, but it leads to neurological disease, including paralysis and death, as well as more of the same kinds of violence.  The society in Addis Ababa is not aware of this problem.  Thus Fiker hopes to make a documentary film in collaboration with 30 of the street children and other community organizers, arrange public showings, and begin establishing community-based resource centers for these children.  She would also work with the Addis Ababa University psychology department and community-based movements to bring the issue to the forefront.

Eric Benjamins - Pitzer College

Eric has worked on vaccine development in laboratories at University of Botswana and at Pitzer College. There is an urgent need in Africa to develop a rabies vaccine that will be much cheaper and easier to produce, store, and transport.  Eric proposes to work at the University of Botswana in Gaborone to develop several preliminary candidates for a more useful rabies vaccine by genetically modifying the Tobacco Mosaic Virus to make it mimic the rabies virus to mammalian immune systems.  He would also participate in community outreach activities to deal with barriers to immunization and education of the public about vaccines.

Byron Cohen- Claremont McKenna College, and Anna Blachman, Pomona College

Byron is now a PhD student in Population Health Sciences specializing in Global Health at Harvard School of Public Health.

Ashley Crawford - Scripps College

As a leader of the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company, Ashley hopes to engage this champion dance group in implementing an accessible dance program in the LA area.  Her objective is to expose people with disabilities to the joys of partner dancing by offering opportunities to experience live dance performances and to learn to dance.  In the summer she would travel to an accessible dance studio in Michigan to learn accessible dance pedagogy.  Then she would return to Claremont to teach these skills to the CCBDC and connect them to various local disability groups.  This would bring the able-bodied and disabled together to empower the disabled while reducing ableism.

Allison Donine - Pitzer College

After study in Nepal, Allison has decided to focus on addressing the specific biological and practical needs of girls there.  She plans to address issues of safe, sanitary, and private spaces for girls through increasing accessibility to education, feminine products, clean water, and private bathroom spaces in schools.  The project would include improving infrastructure, increasing access to resources and information, collaborative curriculum development, and teacher training to support girls.  She would implement this project in two underserved schools in the Kathmandu Valley in collaboration with the  Nepali non-profit Her Turn and the National Women Indigenous Forum. 

Melissa Krassenstein- Scripps College

While studying in South Africa, Melissa interned with Young in Prison. Working with youth in two facilities for juvenile incarceration, she observed that Ottery Youth Care Centre in Cape Town was based on the principles of restorative justice and had strikingly lower recidivism rates and much better quality of life and rates of employment for boys who leave the Centre than those of other facilities.  She would like to conduct a written and filmed research analysis of this facility and document the effectiveness of its rehabilitative model.  She would use this documentation to support continuation of the Ottery Centre and to share its model with officials at Los Angeles Division of Juvenile Justice.

Nithya Menon - Harvey Mudd College

Nithya hopes to integrate her technology skills with her passions, vision, and leadership skills to create sustainable and intelligently implemented solutions to problems of water access and quality.  She would work in partnership with the World Resource Institute, with which she has built a connection from a summer internship at TechChange.  Her project would gather quantifiable feedback on water projects and use this data to promote and expand upon successful programs.  She wants to understand the effects of these projects on communities and how responsibly collected data can bring a project political backing and wide-scale impact.


Melissa Rey- Pomona College

Students with Learning Disabilities (LD) experience higher levels of depression and stress than their non-LD peers.  Typical interventions do not address this aspect of their journey.  Melissa proposes to adapt the techniques of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training and peer support groups to help  students with LD learn coping mechanisms to lower anxiety and deal with the difficulties of having a LD.   Collaborating with Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities,  Melissa hopes to carry out two semester-long sessions of the program she develops with elementary-school students.  She also hopes to recruit and train teachers and school counselors to make use of the program.

Ariana Turner - Scripps College

Ariana has become deeply engaged with narrative psychology, which seeks to understand the psychological effects of telling one's life story. She proposes to go to Australia to interview Aboriginal people in several locations about their life stories, an experience she believes would be empowering for them.  Aboriginal people have a long history of storytelling, but their stories as an oppressed people have been silenced.  Ariana hopes by interview to measure people's sense of well-being before and after telling their stories to determine the effect of the experience.  She also hopes to establish an intergenerational program of story-sharing in this community and to publish stories she has heard.

Isabel Wade - Claremont McKenna College

During her junior year in West Africa, Isabel researched contemporary slavery in Mauritania.  She realized that the human-rights groups working against slavery there do not necessarily emphasize women's rights, yet in the traditional caste system, slavery is passed down through the mother.  Women have extremely limited rights: female genital mutilation, child marriage and sexual abuse are common.  Isabel proposes to work with local organizations promoting women's rights and opposing slavery to develop public forums and workshops on women's rights.  These forums would seek to give space to women to speak about what they need and to empower women to mobilize against their issues.

Shanel Wu - Harvey Mudd College

Shanel hopes to establish a mentoring program for struggling students at her former high school in Las Vegas, NV, located in one of the nation's most troubled school districts with low graduation rates and racial and ethnic disparity in achievement.  Mentors would be recruited from the local community, from all backgrounds.  Mentor-student interaction would center around helping the student develop a small service project to be carried out in the student's neighborhood.  Students would not only receive access to the valuable resource of mentoring, they would also benefit from engaging the issues facing their community.  The program would foster students' natural talents and leadership abilities.

Morissa Zuckerman - Pitzer College

Morissa hopes to research the collaboration between Indigenous and white environmental groups within the Canadian climate movement, focusing on how activists understand these partnerships, their use of direct action tactics, and how solidarity organizing can best be conducted and implemented within diverse coalitions.  In both British Columbia near export terminals and pipeline routes and in Alberta near the Tar Sands, she would use participant observation and in-depth interviews to explore these multicultural alliances.  She would work with individual activists and community organizations to develop a training curriculum for solidarity organizing or working within multicultural alliances. 

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