Citizenship awards

12 students honored for community leadership

Twelve students from throughout the university received the 2003 Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service on April 23 in recognition of their outstanding community service and community leadership achievements.

They were chosen from more than 50 students nominated by faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners. The award-winners received a certificate and a signed copy of Voices from the Heart: In Celebration of America's Volunteers, a book written by Brian O'Connell, A53, professor of public service at Tufts.

The award recipients are:

Aida Balsano, a Ph.D. student in child development

A refugee from Bosnia Herzegovina, Balsano came to the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development in fall 1999 to pursue a master's degree in applied child development. She worked with Prof. Richard Lerner on a project that involved understanding how to promote positive development among African-American male adolescent gang members in Detroit. She started her doctoral work in child development in fall 2001, and was named the first Jacobs Foundation Doctoral Fellow, an appointment designed to support the doctoral training of students with a distinctive promise for making career contributions to youth-serving, community-based organizations in developing nations or in Eastern European countries. Balsano launched the Sarajevo-Tufts Youth Development Initiative in 2000, which initiated discussion about collaboration between the child development department, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and university sectors in Sarajevo. Her proposal to conduct a program evaluation of youth-serving NGOs throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, called the "Collaborative Initiative for Tomorrow's Youth," is currently under consideration for funding by the International Youth Foundation and the Balkan Children and Youth Foundation. Last fall, she wrote a proposal that would enable Nesto Vise, a youth-serving NGO, to seek funding for a study that would try to assess the current state of health among Sarajevo's youth and to assess the ability of local health providers to respond to health needs of local youth. In her 3 1/2 years at Tufts, she has produced 14 publications, including four referred articles, nine chapters a book and three web-based publications.

Kate Donohue-Rolfe, a mathematics major

A finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship, Donohue-Rolfe served as co-president of the Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS), the student-run volunteer organization at Tufts. In that capacity, she oversaw 37 volunteer programs and helped raise money to buy a van for LCS. She plays the flute and was involved in the Make a Difference program for incoming freshman. She also organized a literacy drive for the Tufts janitorial staff.

Katharine Elder, an international relations major

Elder served as president of the Leonard Carmichael Society in 2002 and was coordinator of Kids Day 2001, an annual day of activities sponsored by LCS for children in surrounding communities. An AIDS activist and advocate for AIDS research, Elder applied for a Fulbright to do AIDS work in South Africa. She has been an intern for the KITSO AIDS Training Program through the Harvard AIDS Institute, a project assistant for the International Federation of the Red Cross and a research assistant in the Department of Epidemiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She also has worked as a camp counselor for the Merrimack Valley YMCA's Camp Nokomis on Bear Island in New Hampshire.

Usman Khan, a graduate student in electrical engineering

Khan has served as president of the Thai Club, the Tufts Association of South Asians and the Muslim Students Association. He founded the Islamic Center Committee (ICC) and has served on its board. To accommodate Tufts' rapidly growing Muslim community, the ICC has secured larger quarters for the group for the 2003-04 school year.

Sascha Lamstein, a student at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Lamstein spent nearly a year in Bangladesh, working as part of a Tufts program with the Bangladeshi government to reduce malnutrition in the country. She completed a major analysis of ways to improve income levels for low-income households through community-based nutrition projects. In Boston, she works with the legal department of Centro Presente, a local organization that provides services to refugees from Latin America.

Nii Norte Lokko, a student at the School of Dental Medicine

A native of Ghana, Lokko has been an active member of the Tufts chapters of the Student National Dental Association and the Hispanic Dental Association. He participated in Colgate's Bright Smiles outreach program in which a mobile dental van visits underserved neighborhoods around Boston. He also provides oral screening, consultations and oral hygiene education at the Sharewood Clinic, a health sciences student-run clinic in Malden, Mass. Lokko also volunteers at the Special Olympics to provide oral health screenings and nutrition counseling services to athletes.

Zaki Raheem, a political science major

Raheem has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, and starting in November, he will research microcredit development in the Philippines. At Tufts, he has been involved in student government, the Committee on Student Life and Oxfam America. He participated in the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development and has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the United Nations Human Settlements Program.

Erika Robbins, a biology major

Robbins has been involved in Tufts Hillel for four years and currently serves as its president. In that role, she has elevated ties with the Tufts Pan-African Alliance; reached out to Muslim and Arab student groups and expanded Hillel's volunteer program. She initiated the Jumbothon dance marathon, expanded the Read by the River program and coordinated a tutoring campaign at the Welcome Project in Somerville, Mass.

Helen Tong, an engineering psychology major

Tong has served as community programs assistant for the Asian Community Development Corp. since last fall and leads the effort to create the Young Leader Network. She has volunteered for the Berkeley Street community garden program, working with elderly Chinese gardeners and with low-income, immigrant high school students with limited English proficiency. She currently serves as president of the Tufts Taiwan Club and has also done publicity for the Asian community at Tufts. Tong has twice been an AmeriCorps Fellow and has worked with the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Youth.

Noam Unger, a student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

A member of Fletcher's Community Action Group for two years, Unger has done fund-raising for CASPAR Emergency Services Center and UNICEF in Afghanistan. He is a founding member of the Education Outreach Project, a collaborative between the Fletcher School, the Kennedy School and the Harvard School of Education in which graduate students interact with teenagers at local schools to broaden their perspectives. Unger also founded WILD, a Fletcher outdoor/expedition group.

Christopher Weber, a student at the School of Veterinary Medicine

Weber volunteers with Gap Junction, a student-run program that pairs veterinary school students with area elementary and secondary school children to promote science learning. Under his leadership, Tufts student participation in Gap Junction increased four-fold, and the number of local schools participating increased to five. He also works on the Neonatal Intensive Care Team, a volunteer program at Tufts' Hospital for Large Animals, helping to organize training sessions for 60 to 80 volunteers and scheduling three shifts of volunteers a day from February through June. Weber is also an emergency technician at the Hospital for Large Animals.

Randi Wiggins, a child development major

Wiggins is one of 48 Tufts students who were selected as 2003 Omidyar Scholars for their potential to be leaders and model citizens at Tufts and in the larger community. She serves as a student representative to the University College of Citizenship and Public Service Development Committee. She represents the Class of 2003 on the Tufts Community Union Senate and has served on the president's Task Force on the Undergraduate Experience for two years. Wiggins has been a guide for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and coordinator of overnight visits for prospective students. She has been a member of the executive board for April Open House for accepted students for four years and a member of the Tufts Christian Fellowship since 2000. She served as treasurer of the Tufts Mountain Club and has performed with the Tufts Chamber Singers, the Tufts University Chorale and the Tufts Dance Collective. For the past four years she has volunteered as a translator at the Church of Christ in Burlington.