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Finn '14, Wilson '14 awarded ReachOut 56-81-06 Fellowships

20140213_ReachOutFellowship_BenKoger_9146 20140213_ReachOutFellowship_BenKoger_9162Sacha Finn ’14 and Harriet Kristin Wilson ’14 were awarded ReachOut 56-81-06 fellowships. Finn received the ReachOut 56-81-06 Domestic Fellowship and Wilson received the 1956 ReachOut International Fellowship.Two University seniors are awarded the ReachOut 56-81-06 fellowship every year so that they can embark on a year-long public service project. A board member of the fellowship called both Finn and Wilson during finals week to notify them that they had received the award.

ReachOut receives its funding from alumni in the graduating classes of 1956, 1981 and 2006.

Co-chair of the fellowship committee Jim Freund ’56 explained that the goal of the fellowship program is to “Incentiviz[e] public-minded Princeton seniors to identify, create and carry out projects of social significance, undertaken in conjunction with reputable public service organizations that need the help but lack the resources to engage the services of the Fellow.”

As a part of the application process, applicants are required to create a proposal outlining their project, its lasting impact and its feasibility. They must also submit a budget for their project.

Finn, an anthropology concentrator, said that she will use her fellowship to create a guide for youth born through assisted reproductive technologies who have LGBTQ parents.

“Sacha Finn’s project … will greatly assist youths who are struggling with the many questions and social phobias that accompany such childhoods,” Freund said.

Finn explained that she herself can attest to the difficulties of growing up as an assisted reproductive technologies child since she is a donor-conceived individual with two mothers. She noted that she went to an all-girls high school where there would be father-daughter events which she was unable to participate in.

“My parents had guidebooks about how lesbian mothers should handle the questions that your kids ask you,” Finn said. ”But I never got a book myself about how to respond when your friends want to know about your dad.”

Finn will spend half of the year interviewing assisted reproductive technologies kids in order to learn from their experiences, and will then compile information that will then best help others like her.

Finn said that she was “ecstatic” to find out the news about receiving the fellowship.

“I’ve been given the money and the means to create this guide that I really wish I had growing up,” she said.

Carol J. Greenhouse, who is the Arthur W. Marks ’19 professor of anthropology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, said she was thrilled to learn that Sacha had been awarded the fellowship. Greenhouse also served as Sacha’s JP advisor.

“JPs in Anthropology are normally library projects, and the library ‘side’ of Sacha’s junior paper would have been impressive by itself,” Greenhouse said. “But at a certain point, Sacha decided to go further, taking those conversations outside of the library and into an interpersonal register.”

Greenhouse added that she was “happy to listen in and learn as the work unfolded around [Finn's] insights.”

After the year-long project, Finn plans on going to medical school. Finn has had experience interning at hospitals and medical centers in Los Angeles and Princeton.

On campus, she previously served as the music director of the Tigressions and publicity chair of the Glee Club.

Wilson, a comparative literature concentrator, said she will use the fellowship to partner with the LEAP Africa Foundation and high schools and universities in Nigeria to create a literary literacy program.

“The idea is to bridge communities, increase accesses, promote dialogue, and promote advocacy and change,” Wilson said.

Wilson explained that her project has three phases. The first will focus on literacy levels and helping students move from basic literacy to analytic literacy. She said the second phase is more reflective in nature because she wants the participants to ponder their experiences and identify a problem they would like to resolve before producing their own projects. The third phase will allow the students to participate in an exhibition of their projects.

Throughout each phase, she noted, students from underserved schools will be paired with students from overfunded schools in an effort to bridge the gap between them.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot because one of the things I believe is that most problems with education come from access and not ability,” Wilson said. “And so with many things I do, I try to increase access and then bridge groups that have too many or too few resources.”

Wilson explained that as a Nigerian-born individual she was inspired to pursue this project in Nigeria, and she has thought about the gap between the privileged and underprivileged in the past.

“Kristin has voracious intellect, is deeply committed to public service, and approaches her classroom and community work with thoughtfulness and humility,” Whitman College Director of Studies Justin Lorts said. Lorts has worked closely with Wilson on a number of projects related to Whitman.

Lorts added that Wilson’s ReachOut project is an extension of the work that she has already done, and said that he believes it will be successful.

“The project will continue long after Kristin’s fellowship with ReachOut has ended and will help train a new generation of student leaders and materially improve the lives of the children involved in the program,” Lorts said.

After the year, Wilson plans on pursuing a masters program at Oxford. Her program will focus on literature.

Wilson has also interned at hospitals and clinics in Philadelphia and France. On campus, she has worked with ReachOut in helping underserved high school students to prepare for college. She is also a member of the Pace Council, a peer health advisor and chair of Whitman’s college council.

“We’re very proud of the creativity, activism and passion already demonstrated by our newest Fellows,” Freund said.

In addition to providing the ReachOut fellowship, ReachOut increases college awareness, provides literacy programs for disadvantaged high schools and sponsors an annual social entrepreneurship contest at Princeton.

 

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