2012 Sorensen Fellows

Sorensen Fellows 2012
(L-R): mangaliso mohammed, robyn spector, andrea verdeja, rachael Koehler, and karia sekumbo

Download "Tracing Roots: Uncovering Realities Beneath the Surface," which highlights the Fellows' experiences. For PDFs of each essay, click here.

For video footage of the fellows' presentation "Tracing Roots: Uncovering Realities Beneath the Surface" of their time as Sorensen Fellows, click here. 

To read an introduction to the fellows in BrandeisNOW, click here, and to read their reports "from the field" in summer 2012, click here.

Rachael Koehler '13, from Pennsauken, New Jersey, majored in Psychology with Religious Studies and NEJS minors. She was a community advisor for first year residents, an Undergraduate Department Representative for Religious Studies, and chair for Relay for Life, raising funds for the American Cancer Society. She did her Sorensen Fellowship internship with Beyond Skin in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which works to promote racial and religious coexistence through multicultural arts and media. She planned her own coexistence festival and brought people of different religions together in dialogue by producing a religious understanding radio show.

Mangaliso Mohammed '13, from Mbabane, Swaziland, majored in Environmental Studies and Economics with a minor in Legal Studies. Having lived in a developing country for a significant part of his life, Mangaliso is particularly interested in the sustainable development of informal communities such as slums in the urban areas of his home country. In summer 2011 he worked as an intern for the Municipal Council of Mbabane focusing on waste management and pollution control in the urban areas surrounding the country’s capital. For his Sorensen Fellowship internship, also with the Municipal Council of Mbabane, Mangaliso worked on finding suitable, renewable, energy sources for low-income households to alleviate poverty as well as reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in urban areas.

Karia Sekumbo ’14, majred in Economics and International and Global Studies with a minor in Legal Studies. Although he is originally from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, he has lived in several different countries including Botswana, Swaziland, Uganda, and now the United States. He is the current president of the Brandeis International Journal, a campus publication dedicated to discussing international relations and global affairs. He was an intern with Opportunity International, a microfinance organization in Tanzania, where he gained a more concrete understanding of the workings of microfinance and its important role in global poverty alleviation and the reduction of gender inequality in communities.

Robyn Spector '13 majored in Business and American Studies, with a minor in Journalism. Elected photography editor for the student newspaper The Justice in her first year at Brandeis, Robyn later served as an associate editor on the newspaper's executive board. In addition, she was one of the Journalism Undergraduate Department Representatives and has photographed campus events for the Office of Admissions, the Office of the Arts, and the Ethics Center. Born and raised in New York City, she has studied at the International Center for Photography, Maine Media Workshops, and has been featured in National Geographic and the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan’s exhibition “ImagiNation: Young Photographers Engage the World.” For her Sorensen internship, Robyn photographed and reported at The New Times, the central English-language newspaper in Kigali, Rwanda. Through the lens of a photojournalist, she examined journalism ethics in a developing country and learned about the roots and intricacies of Rwanda’s history that are ingrained in its society today.

Andrea Verdeja
'14 was born in Japan to Cuban and Spanish parents, and was afterwards raised in the Dominican Republic. She majored in Politics and International and Global Studies. She was the president of the International Club at Brandeis and assistant captain of the sailing team. Last summer she interned at the Jesuit Service for Refugees and Immigrants, working in both the Dominican Republic and in Haiti. She was an advocate for the legal rights of Haitian immigrants and their children, many of whom are arbitrarily being deprived of their legitimate nationality by Dominican government officials. She interned at the Al-Feniq (Phoenix) Center in Bethlehem, a community center in the Deheisha Refugee Camp led by Palestinian refugees working to serve their residents and advocate for their social and political rights.