Yale President's Public Service Fellows Working in New Haven

Thirty Yale students will perform community service in New Haven this summer with financial support from the University, under a program established by President Richard C. Levin. By providing the students with summer stipends, Yale frees them from having to work at regular jobs, letting them volunteer for good causes instead. Students earn a total of $2,600-3,250 over the summer, the exact amount depending on the number of weeks worked. The agencies they work for get the benefit of their energy, enthusiasm, and ability – absolutely free.

The Yale students who are designated President’s Public Service Fellows are selected for the grant program based on their proposals for summer community service work, as well as their prior experience in helping their communities.

Eighteen undergraduates have been designated President’s Public Service Fellows along with 12 students from Yale’s graduate and professional schools. For the first time this year, students from the School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health have been named Fellows.

Established in 1994, the program began with 20 participants. Through eight to 10 weeks of the summer, Fellows volunteer at non-profit community agencies. They also gather regularly for meetings with civic and neighborhood leaders to discuss community issues and concerns. After completing their service, Fellows submit a report to President Levin.

“As in the past, we were impressed by the outstanding commitment to the New Haven community exhibited by this year’s applicants,” says Nina Glickson, assistant to the president. “We continue to have many more talented students than we can place, although we were able to increase the number of Fellows from last year’s total of 24 to 30. We are particularly delighted with the range of interests of this year’s Fellows and by the broad representation from our graduate and professional schools.”

Julio Gonzalez, a political science women’s studies major from McAllen, Texas, is working at Casa Otonal this summer as a President’s Public Service Fellow. His project, supervised by Marialid Feliciano, will bring neighborhood children together with senior citizens who live in Casa Otonal housing, providing companionship for the elderly and role models for the young. They’ll take field trips, have domino tournaments, do arts and crafts projects, and learn from one another.

Why did he chose to spend his summer vacation doing community service? “I think of New Haven as my home,” says Mr. Gonzalez. “I like New Haven, and I’m interested in the people in it. Through this program, we’re working to better the relationship between the city and the University. And for me, it is a learning experience.” He hopes to run for alderman this fall, representing the First Ward.

Ms. Feliciano, after-school and summer program coordinator, says, “Julio is fabulous. He has a ‘can-do’ attitude, whatever I ask him. He has many ideas about the summer curriculum and how to put it all together. He has been helping us guide the high school student interns, running the after-school program, working on the computer, doing paper work. He is very able, and we are glad to have him.”

Mehul Patel of Wall Township, New Jersey, is working for New Haven Public Schools’ Facilities Planning and Construction program, supervised by Susan Whetstone. This summer, 11 schools in the city are undergoing renovation. The Edgewood School, for example, is being completely refurbished and gaining a new wing to replace an outmoded one built in 1955. His job is to learn about each project and communicate that information to all interested parties: taxpayers, parents, students, educators, builders. Mr. Patel will visit and photograph the sites, interview each principal and architect, and put his findings onto a website for Internet publication. The assignment combines two of his major interests: urban planning and educational policy.

“Having Mehul here is a total, wonderful gift,” says Ms. Whetstone. “If he weren’t here, this project wouldn’t have happened – certainly not this year. I was hoping to hire someone in a full-time position, but because of tight funding, we couldn’t bring anyone aboard. The website Mehul is preparing will create a whole other mechanism for us to communicate with the public. He is a delight to work with and a wonderful addition to our staff in many respects. His infectious enthusiasm has made everyone excited about the project. And he is incredibly capable.”

For his part, Mr. Patel is delighted with his summer plans. “It’s a great program,” he says. “I really feel like a resident of New Haven, and the fellowship lets me provide service to my community. I’m learning on the job about how New Haven works, and I’m finding out what great potential this city has.”

President’s Public Service Fellows, Undergraduate

Justin T. Berger, Class of 1999, will work on neighborhood revitalization efforts with the Newhallville Restoration Corporation.

Beatrice Chen, Class of 1998, will work with the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

Julie Curran, Class of 1998, will work in the Footebridge program, a literacy project located at the Foote School for students of Timothy Dwight Elementary School.

Julio Gonzalez, Class of 1999, will work in the intergenerational program at Casa Otonal in the Hill neighborhood.

Hrishikesh Hirway, Class of 2000, will work with the Art on the Edge Festival through the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

Elisabeth Jacobs, Class of 1998, will work on planning efforts with the Greater Dwight Development Corporation.

Kimberly Ann Jones, Class of 2000, will work in the youth programs of the New Haven Department of Police Service. Ms. Jones was a member of New Haven’s Board of Young Adult Police Commissioners when she was in high school.

Shaheen Karim, Class of 2000, will work on special projects with the New Haven Free Public Library.

Rachel Kleinfeld, Class of 1998, will work with New Haven’s City Plan Department.

Zuhairah M. LaMont, Class of 1999, will teach in the Ulysses S. Grant program, which serves academically talented, low-income middle and high school students.

Betty Lim, Class of 1998, will be working with the Hill Health Center.

Mehul Patel, Class of 1998, will work with the School Construction Program of the New Haven Public Schools.

Tsali W.B. Ricketson, Class of 1998, will work in the National Youth Sports Program sponsored by the Yale Department of Athletics for New Haven middle school students.

Eryn Simmers, Class of 1999, will work in the Chief Administrator’s Office for the City of New Haven.

Peter Stein, Class of 1999, will work with the Varick Development Corporation in the Dixwell Neighborhood.

Jennifer Turner, Class of 1999, will work with the City of New Haven’s Youth Service Bureau.

Cori A. Van Noy, Class of 1998, will work in the New Haven City Plan Department.

Monique Vulin, Class of 1999, will work with the Summerbridge program for New Haven youth at the Hopkins School.

Fellows from Yale’s graduate and professional schools

LaLisa A. Anderson, School of Medicine, Class of 2000, will work at the Hill Health Center.

Donald Braman, a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology, will work with Yale and the City of New Haven to increase public access to information technology resources.

Timothy W. Clew, who is pursuing a joint degree in the Graduate School and School of Management, will work with the Whalley Avenue Special Services District to develop a micro-enterprise program with the New York-based financing group Trickle Up.

Rebecca Gratz, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Class of 1998, will be on the staff of the New Haven Ecology Project, working in environmental education for New Haven youth at the West Rock Nature Center.

Jay R. Horton, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in the School of Medicine, Class of 1998, will work at the Hill Health Center.

Michelle Lee and Kyle Rivers, Drama School Class of 1998, will work on a program at the New Haven Free Public Library to teach African American culture and history through a puppet theater they have designed.

Gregory Smith, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Class of 1998, will work on the neighborhood revitalization efforts of the Urban Resources Initiative.

Claire Theobald, School of Art, Class of 1998, will work with the City of New Haven to design graphic materials to promote the city.

Sara Van Dyke, School of Law, Class of 1999, will work with the Greater Dwight Development Corporation.

Heather Andrea Williams, a graduate student in the Department of American Studies, will teach quilting to adults and children at six New Haven sites.

Eric L. Woodahl, Divinity School, Class of 1999, will work at the Christian Community Action in the Hill neighborhood.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325