Change advances knowledge, grows economies, provides opportunity, and fulfills dreams. Our world evolves with the spirit of entrepreneurial acts, through commerce, service, community building, and individual interactions. Creating meaningful change takes vision, foresight, initiative, energy, and capacity. In addition, the world becomes more connected every day. Our global community strengthens as our access to one another is increasingly at our fingertips through technology, social media, and international experiences.
The Changemaker Legacy Award was created in order to recognize individuals who are making a meaningful impact in the world. The FGS Global Changemaker Legacy Award recognizes FGS scholars who have widened their viewpoint through international experiences, and who have served others by designing, creating, and/or implementing a project or program to create positive change. Watch a video about one of our Changemakers!
2015 Changemaker Legacy Award Winners
Arpan envisions improved healthcare through more collaborative medical studies among students, physicians, and researchers and through bettered intercultural communication with diverse patients. For his part, Arpan served as a student research fellow at West Virginia University prior to his entrance to medical school. Now a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh, he is part of a laboratory group examining skin cancer and effects of prescribed post-surgery treatment regimens. His research last summer had entirely different emphasis and placed Arpan in an entirely different location, central Bolivia. In Cochabamba, he studied the administration of healthcare by Cuban physicians with and among local physicians and how proper use of intercultural communication skills can better the care given through improved relationships between doctors and patients. Back in Pittsburgh, Arpan practices the principles learned in South America by actively volunteering at Salud Para Ninos (Health for Children) clinic at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, providing comfort and assurance to young patients in their native tongue.
University of Pittsburgh ’14
Facilitating intercultural communication to better relationships between doctors and patients
Emily admits that she use to go about her days with little awareness of the healthcare issues afflicting populations outside the developed world. Once she joined Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), her eyes were opened. She is now Vice President of the Central Michigan University chapter. The non-profit organization supports global access to patented pharmaceuticals. The chapter is specifically petitioning for policy changes at the universities where these medical discoveries occur, advocating for modifications to the patent and licensure process. Capitalizing on its presence on a college campus, the CMU chapter has launched education campaigns and hosted the ‘Health For All’ conference for three years. Following her May graduation, Emily will pursue a New York internship with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders to continue her advocacy work and remain connected to the mission of UAEM. She intends to begin medical school in the fall of 2016.
Central Michigan University ’15
Supporting global access to patented pharmaceuticals
Digging in the dirt at California Lutheran University’s Sustainable Edible Education (SEEd) Project initially sparked Eric’s passion for researching and pursing sustainable practices. Now nearly a year removed from his alma mater, Erik is a researcher with National University of Laos. The focus of his research is on the effects of multi-country dam development on Southwest Asia’s Mekong River, which serves 65 million people in 6 countries and is home to nearly 800 million freshwater species. In particular, how these mega-dams will and have to-date altered the way of life for riverbank communities is Erik’s concentration. These populations are sustained by the fisheries and the trade routes the river provides. The river also serves as a source of irrigation for agricultural practices by these populations. Already, a number of marginalized populations have been forced to relocate. Erik wishes to provide practical solutions that can serve economic development while reconciling the ecological sustainability of the river and those whose lives depend upon it – a familiar challenge worldwide, as both populations and affluence grow.
California Lutheran University ’14
Researching and pursuing sustainable practices for economic development.
2014 Changemaker Legacy Award Winners
Update April 2015
This last fall, Johanna and other BC students delivered the Splash class on marine life and conservation to Boston area seventh and eighth graders, as planned. Johanna noted that the class attracted a group of enthusiastic students who were quite knowledgeable already but had minimal exposure; it provided the opportunity “to supplement their facts with real-life experiences.” The short course provided the students tools to daily “live blue” and “ocean-friendly,” – akin to “living green” and “eco-friendly” – tools easily shared and practiced with family, such as sustainable seafood dining options. The class was renewed for the BC Splash spring program. A portion of Johanna’s award money was used to purchase supplies for the Splash class.
Following her graduation next month, Johanna will be working closely with the Director of her community’s YMCA to expand the ‘The Real Shark in the Water’ curriculum and launch it as part of the Y’s summer camp program. The remainder of the monies will be used for the program’s YMCA launch; a majority of it will be used for transportation for the offsite beach clean-up days being planned.
Johanna will begin a PhD program this fall at Stanford University.
Johanna’s study abroad experience in the Galápagos Islands “wholly and awesomely transformed” her. Specifically, the five marine biology courses she took altered the way she felt about the ocean which was a prominent feature of her childhood experiences. Her eyes were opened when she learned of the existence of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ Additionally, her heart broke when she heard the statistical data on the consequences of overfishing. The result: a passion ignited in Johanna. But Johanna reasoned that the transformational experience and ignited passion were worthless if not used to enact change.
Johanna is both initiating change with fellow students with whom she studied in Ecuador and in partnership with the YMCA. Johanna’s connection with the YMCA began years ago when she attended the ‘Y’ as a kid and more recently working summers at the same YMCA. Johanna is developing a classroom and field-based sustainable practices program to encourage and empower kids to make achievable change, such as decreasing waste. This program is an ideal fit for the ‘Y’ says Johanna. It aligns with the three premises of the Y: 1) youth development, 2) healthy living, and 3) social responsibility. Moreover, “it will reach a group of kids that would not have this opportunity otherwise.”
Johanna is excited about the prospect of continuing her work with school children. Not only has she been employed by the YMCA in the summers, while still in high school she was a mentor to kids at risk and has worked as a student teacher while studying at Boston College. She’ll get the chance to test this summer program – titled ‘The Real Shark in the Water’ – this fall on the Boston College campus. It will be offered twice through the college’s ‘Splash’ organization. Splash is a student run organization that places BC students in the position of professor for a day. The class is open to local middle school students.
Johanna sees the fall classes as a great test run. Following the 50-minute classes at BC, Johanna will further develop the curriculum, suitable for a summer camp program at the ‘Y.’ The long-term goal, says Johanna, is to see the class ‘someday be a regularly offered after school program for kids’ both at her YMCA and throughout the region.
Johanna is a senior at Boston College, studying biochemistry. She is undecided about her path beyond college, researching a number of different options at the moment, but she is clear on one thing. “Going abroad changed what I want from my career,” claims Johanna. The standard linear projection of professional advancement and accolades is not wooing her. Her work must make a difference.
Boston College ’15
2014 FGS Scholar
Reducing waste & building awareness around the oceans’ fragility
Update April 2015
Kenya individually raised more than $900 to complement her $1,000 changemaker cash award. She returned the monies to Canvasback Missions, repayment for the expense of her travel to the Marshall Islands last summer. It was money well-spent. The medical team maximized their days, spending 10-hour days in the clinic, seeing a backlog of patients from the spring, totally 412 visits, 197 audiograms, distribution of 59 hearing aids, 137 hearing aid impressions taken, and 82 completed surgeries. Kenya was the record keeper for the coming and going of all these patients, charting and writing referrals. Kenya describes the two weeks as a marathon.
Reflecting on her days in the clinic, Kenya intends for her return visits to Majuro to focus on the environmental concerns of the island. She is researching options for further training in climate change adaptation for the Pacific Islands, concentrating on addressing greater need for food, water, and waste management.
A new laptop. That was Kenya’s initial motivation for summer employment in the offices of Canvasback Missions, a medical mission group. That was 2007. Seven years later, her laptop is no longer new and her employment evolved into volunteering abroad. Kenya first left the offices in 2012 and joined physicians on medical trip to serve communities of the Marshall Islands. At first, she spent her time making repairs to the Diabetes Wellness Center, specifically improving the air quality in the building. She then found herself in the throes of reorganizing patient appointments and doctors’ schedules.
She did not return to the South Pacific in 2013. Rather, Kenya’s international travel last year came in the form of study abroad. She studied climate change in Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia, all far from the atolls, but the Republic of the Marshall Islands was never far from her mind.
This summer, Kenya was back on the islands. She continued her clerical work but also made some keen observations, inspired by her studies in climate change. She recognized that the quality of these communities’ lives was not only dependent on access to health care but also contingent on applied sustainable practices with regards to food, water, and waste.
Kenya envisions active composting on the islands as a means to nourish the otherwise nutrient-weak soil. Anticipating higher yields of healthy foods, she foresees an opportunity to reduce the rate of Diabetes on the islands which is currently more than 50%. Composting will also reduce the amount of waste leaking into the ocean and disrupting the ecosystem. Kenya also has ideas for implementing improvements to the rain water catchment system. Improvements are needed because the ground water is largely contaminated by the ocean’s salt.
This summer, she recognized that there was a real education deficit in these areas. Back in the States, Kenya is now working with professors, consultants, and Canvasback, developing means for the communities to readily have access to the needed education and solutions. Solutions will mean improved health and overall quality of life, as well as, an environment that can both provide for the communities for years to come and be protected.
Kenya is a senior at Brown University, studying Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations with concentrations in energy and the environment. She has plans to go onto graduate school, but not right away. She believes she’s in need of a bit of life experience first, to better inform her on her future education plans. She hopes to gain some of that life experience abroad, implementing initiatives such as those in the Marshall Islands.
Brown University ’15
2013 FGS Scholar
Simultaneously improving quality of lives and the environment
Update April 2015
Nearing the close of his first year of medical school, Parth is balancing both his studies and advocacy work. Previously a volunteer at Pittsburgh’s SALUD Clinic for under-served Latino population, he now is a coordinator for the clinic. On campus he is also serving as the Vice President for Legislation for the university’s chapter of the American Medical Association. Parth hopes the role will accelerate his work on health care policy reform, previously begun during his time as a White House intern.
This summer Parth will be undertaking research at Northwestern University in Illinois. The research project will work to develop a better screening method for non-melanoma skin cancers in patients with previous multiple skin cancer diagnoses. The project will consider how demographics affect the incidence rate of patients presenting secondarily with skin cancer. Ultimately, the aim is to discover whether under-served populations suffer from the highest incidence rates or not. Parth intends to apply his award monies toward this research project.
Just now in his first semester of medical school and many years of training ahead of him, Parth refuses to let the long road distract him from his vision. He says, “I want to use my future skills in medicine to work alongside other healthcare providers and policy organizations to remove barriers to healthcare access and ultimately serve the global community.”
Even before his acceptance into medical school, Parth was using the skills he already had to actively remove these barriers. While an undergraduate student he assisted physicians at Salud Para Niños Clinic, a Spanish clinic where Latino families bring their children for routine checkups and consultations. He also volunteered at the Birmingham Free Clinic for uninsured individuals to receive health checkups, tests, and medications. Parth used his fluency in Spanish to serve as a translator between Latino patients and medical personnel.
Of these volunteer experiences, Parth says, they “made me acutely aware of the challenges that uninsured individuals face and assured me that I want to play a large part in reducing healthcare disparities. Witnessing the tremendous medical hardships that this subset of the population faces awoke the passion within me to pursue medicine in order to help give these people the care they deserve.”
Volunteering at clinics has given Parth an up close and personal view of these disparities. Securing a legislative internship provided him another perspective altogether. Serving as a Domestic Policies Intern at the White House, he conducted research for policy experts as the provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act were being drafted.
A national viewpoint on strategy and policy piqued Parth’s interest: how do other countries address similar challenges in administering effective and equitable healthcare? He chose to study in Australia to learn how its government addresses inequities between Australians of European ancestry and indigenous Australians. He selected courses focused on this topic and interacted with classmates from both cultures, in and outside the classroom. He joined both the Indigenous Awareness Society and the Make a Difference Global Health Group.
This spring, Parth graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Neuroscience. Now a first year medical student at the same institution, he has not yet decided on a discipline. He continues to volunteer at Salud Para Niños Clinic and the Birmingham Free Clinic, and will volunteer at the student-run dermatology clinic, which will provide him the most patient contact to date. During next summer – his one and only free summer during medical school – Parth says he would like to work on clinical research abroad, either with the University of Pittsburgh or through connections made while studying Australia.