Community outreach

14 students recognized for public service

Fourteen Tufts graduate and undergraduate students are the recipients of the 2004 Presidential Awards for Citizenship and Public Service.

“The Presidential Awards are an opportunity to recognize outstanding student accomplishment and to underscore the significance and breadth of citizenship and public service activities woven into academic life at Tufts,” said Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow. “In honoring these students, we recognize a broad range of citizenship and public service activities in which our students excel. These include volunteer service in established programs, informal forms of service, new student initiatives and participation in community activities and governance.”

“The ability to learn effective citizenship skills and engage in active public service through academic experience is a hallmark of a Tufts education,” said Rob Hollister, dean of the University College of Citizenship and Public Service.

This year’s award-winners are:

Joshua Bauml, A04, a double major in philosophy and drama, was religious services leader for Tufts Hillel and student coordinator for resident tutors. He also worked with children with special needs in neighboring communities.

Sunindia Bhalla, A04, a child development major who was recognized for her commitment to the Leonard Carmichael Society, the largest student organization at Tufts. She also volunteered for the Acton (Mass.) Public Schools and Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass.

Leena Bitar, D04, created a program to promote oral health awareness and literacy among children in Boston’s Chinatown community. Operating out of the Wang YMCA, Bitar’s program reaches children ages 3 to 6 through weekly reading sessions that focus on the importance of dental hygiene and good nutrition. She also was president of the Tufts student chapter of the American Association of Women Dentists and treasurer of the Hispanic Dental Association.

Marissa Goldberg, A04, a child development major, worked with Read by the River, a children’s literacy initiative in Medford. The program began as a one-day carnival to stress the fun of reading for Medford elementary school children, and largely because of Goldberg’s leadership, Read by the River is expanding to a year-long program.

Daniel Heller, a graduate student in computer science, worked with local school administrators and teachers on initiatives to improve public education. The founder and first president of Tufts’ student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, Heller worked with middle school teachers to help them overcome some of the technical difficulties associated with computer use and to encourage them to include computers and computer programming in their curricula.

Daniel Koo, a student at the School of Medicine, was recognized for initiating a community effort to help the alarming number of Vietnamese youth in Boston who drop out of school and are involved in violence, drugs and prostitution. Koo took a leave of absence during his third year of medical school to help organize an advocacy organization for Vietnamese youth and their families.

Mitchell Lunn, A04, graduated with a B.S. in biology and French in May. As a University College of Citizenship and Public Service Scholar, he was instrumental in many community-building activities during his four years at Tufts. Most notably, he worked with professors and administrators to spearhead the creation of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) as well as the Summer Scholars Program.

Sean Majoy, Emily Stuart and Lourie Yelton, all second-year students at the School of Veterinary Medicine, were honored as a team for their work in running the veterinary school’s Gap Junction program, an after-school program for students in six Grafton/Worcester-area middle schools. The three veterinary students have taught biological and veterinary sciences to the students every Tuesday, providing the children with hands-on experience with animals. In addition, they have expanded the program from four to six schools and gotten other Tufts veterinary students involved.

Cristina Mendoza, a graduate student in child development, was recognized for the role she has played in the Giving Camp, a program that offers a camp experience to people with serious disabilities who live in the neighborhoods in and around the Tufts campus.

Brandon Miller, a student at the Fletcher School, mentored undergraduates interested in Peace Corps and State Department activities. Last summer, he conducted research with Save the Children USA’s Food Security Unit in Nicaragua that will be used to improve that organization’s programs throughout Central America.

Ifeyinwa Mora, A04, received her B.A. in quantitative economics and Spanish in May. She was honored for organizing Children’s Awareness Week at Tufts, a full week of activities to build awareness of issues unique to children. She recruited a planning committee of six Tufts students, engaged seven more on sub-committees and collaborated with more than 15 student organizations for Children’s Awareness Week.

Christina Zahara, A04, a political science major and a University College of Citizenship and Public Service Scholar, served as a public policy intern for the Children’s League of Massachusetts, as a legislative aide to the chair of the House Committee on Health Care and as a summer volunteer at a complex for disabled orphans located just outside of Seoul, Korea.