Six students named 2012 Sorensen Fellows

Will address issues of social justice from Ireland to Bethlehem

Promoting racial and religious coexistence through the arts in Ireland, working to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in Mbabane, Africa and creating sustainable Palestinian communities in Bethlehem are some of the missions that will be undertaken by six undergraduates who have been awarded Sorensen Fellowships.

The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life announced this week that Jesse Hart '14, Rachael Koehler '13, Mangaliso Mohammed '13, Karia Sekumbo ’14, Robyn Spector '13 and Andrea Verdeja '14 will receive a $4,000 stipend to cover travel and living expenses for a summer internship anywhere outside of the United States, or $3,500 for one inside the U.S.

This spring, the fellows will take a course of their choosing as academic preparation for the internship. Over the summer, the students intern at a selected organization anywhere in the world that addresses issues of international significance. In the fall semester, the students regroup and take a course together providing perspective on their internship experiences.

“The particularly interesting thing about this year’s group is that two students will be returning home to work in their communities: one to Tanzania and one to Swaziland,” says Marci McPhee, associate director of the Ethics Center. “They are international students who are coming for a Brandeis education and taking that knowledge back to improve their home communities in which their needs are great.”

The fellowship program, which began in 1998, is sponsored by the Ethics Center and honors the late Theodore C. "Ted" Sorensen for his commitment to public service and his 10 years as founding chairman of the center's international advisory board. Sorensen was policy advisor, legal counsel and speechwriter to President John F. Kennedy. He practiced international law for four decades, and was a widely published author on the presidency and foreign affairs.

The 2012 Sorensen Fellows:

Jesse Hart '14, from Worthington, Ohio, will intern this summer in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland at The Playhouse, a community theater that focuses on giving a voice to the marginalized sectors of society. Connecting his interests in the arts and social justice, he will work with the Theatre of Witness Programme, in which people perform their own stories to bear witness to the issues of suffering and redemption.

Rachael Koehler '13, from Pennsauken, N.J., will work with Beyond Skin in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which works to promote racial and religious coexistence through multicultural arts and media. As an intern, Rachael will be planning her own coexistence festival as well as bringing people of different religions together in dialogue by producing a religious understanding radio show.

Mangaliso Mohammed '13 is from Mbabane, Swaziland. Having lived in a developing country for a significant part of his life, Mangaliso is particularly interested in the sustainable development of informal communities, including slums in the urban areas of his home country. He will intern with the Municipal Council of Mbabane. He will participate on projects for suitable renewable energy sources for low-income households to alleviate poverty and reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in the urban informal areas.

Karia Sekumbo ’14, is originally from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, he has lived in several different countries including Botswana, Swaziland, Uganda, and now the United States. During the summer, he will be an intern with Opportunity International, a microfinance organization in Tanzania. He hopes to gain 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, from New York City, will be photographing and reporting at The New Times, an English-language newspaper in Kigali, Rwanda. Through the lens of a photojournalist, she hopes to examine journalism ethics in a developing country and further understand 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 raised in the Dominican Republic. For the upcoming summer she will be working with Paidia International Development in Bethlehem, a local NGO that is helping to create sustainable Palestinian communities by empowering youth through ethical leadership.

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