Fellows and Projects
The 2021-2022 Rich/Collins Community Leadership and Impact Fellows were the fifth cohort of fellows. Over the course of the spring semester, these 10 fellows successfully implemented seven different projects in the community.
Allissa Masse ’23 and Priscilla Appenteng ’23
Black mothers within the healthcare space receive unequal opportunities and are more vulnerable to preventable consequences, such as high child mortality and death after childbirth. Through education on black maternal health disparities, Allissa and Priscilla aim to address the challenges faced by Black mothers in order to protect their lives. They will partner with the Resilient Sisterhood Project to facilitate a five part series addressing the social determinants impacting Black maternity and childbirth within our community. Through a variety of mediums including presentations, panels, and debate, they hope to help facilitate conversation around improving Black maternal disparities and develop strategies to combat this crisis.
Cassipea Stith ’22 and Logan Shanks ’24
Roxbury, a historically redlined city, lacks adequate educational resources and access to books within the Black community. Through a partnership with Frugal Bookstore and More Than Words, Cassipea and Logan aim to provide the community with additional educational resources and sponsor intergenerational opportunities for critical engagement. By hosting book drives and library card registration events, Cassipea and Logan hope to redistribute resources to Black low-income residents in Roxbury. This resource will be sustained through the creation of a permanent free library in Nubian Square. Cassipea and Logan will also host a variety of lectures, workshops, and book clubs in order to cultivate intergenerational dialogue about literature and education in the Black community and provide opportunities for networking.
Chase Malone ’24
Intergenerational disparities in low-income communities adversely affect the physical and oral health of many individuals. With a lack of government support and limited access to dental care, there is a need for multicultural preventive care and education. In partnership with the Waltham YMCA, Chase hopes to spread awareness of and dismantle oral health disparities in low-income BIPOC communities through youth education and community engagement. He will hold a series of workshops encompassing different age cohorts that target various oral health related issues. The program will conclude with a panel of BIPOC dental professionals in order to educate future healthcare professionals on public health limitations and inspire them to work and provide care to underrepresented communities.
Delaine Gneco De La Cruz ’22
Waltham low-income youth of color are disproportionately impacted by a variety of systemic social issues and often lack the resources to express and advocate for themselves through art. Through the artistic mediums of photography, poetry, film and music, ATLA’s primary goal is to create an interdisciplinary journey toward a community engagement social justice goal. Delaine will partner with the Keystone Program at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club in order to provide workshops where students will learn how to employ arts as a platform for tackling social issues. Students will engage with these issues through performing and visual art workshops, hands-on projects, critical dialogues, and discussions.
Destiny Kluck ’25
Self-esteem and racial identity are prominent issues amongst transracial and inracial adoptees. Destiny’s Family Diversity and Identity Empowerment project aims to address these issues through establishing a community for those impacted by the foster care and adoption system both on campus and in the community. Brandeis students will come together to discuss their experiences and have the option of becoming a certified volunteer for Adoption Journeys. Destiny will spread awareness on campus by recruiting volunteers to create self-empowerment kits for Waltham foster care and adopted youth. Her project will conclude with an interactive Empowerment Day event hosted in collaboration with Adoption Journeys in order to help youth explore their identities, find their purpose, and build community.
Jolecia Saunderson ’24
Many educators, activists, and community members remain under informed about the consequences punitive school policies have on Black girls and the feelings of mistreatment they often experience in academic spaces. The goal of Pushout and Peacebuilding is to shed light on these silenced experiences and to provide an outlet from the trauma caused in these spaces. Jolecia will work alongside the Department of Youth Services and the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative (BEJI) in order to facilitate reading groups with incarcerated youth and Brandeis undergraduate students. Throughout the experience participants will engage in reflective activities through art and poetry as a tool of liberation. Her project will conclude with a digital and physical Memory Book.
Yohana Otto ’25 and Safdar Mir ’25
There is a severe lack of job opportunities available for individuals within the neuroatypical community and COVID-19 has only exacerbated this issue. The Autism Technology Initiative (ATI) is a specialized program, in partnership with Opportunities for Inclusion, that is centered around improving the basic technology skills needed to enter the workforce for people with autism. Participants will learn different skills and work with their volunteer buddy to master it. Safdar and Yohana hope that by the end of the program their participants will be both better equipped to and feel more confident in their ability to get a job and be successful in their career.
As part of the Rich/Collins Community Leadership and Impact Fellowship, Jordyn worked with the Waltham Partnership for Youth to organize a networking event and public health documentary screening at Waltham’s McDevitt Middle School.