Yale honors high school juniors who are ‘making a difference in the world’

Yale Bassett Award for Community Engagement sponsored by the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration

Fifteen high school juniors from across the United States will receive the 2019 Yale Bassett Award for Community Engagement, which celebrates emerging leaders who have a record of creative leadership and public service, academic distinction, interdisciplinary problem solving, and experience addressing societal issues.

The award is administered by the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM) whose faculty created the award in 2016.

Recipients of the Bassett Award were selected from an applicant pool of over 1200 students, hailing from 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and military and diplomatic stations abroad. The selection committee also named 20 semi-finalists.

Our faculty and staff were incredibly impressed by this year’s Bassett Award nominees,” said Stephen Pitti, professor of history and American studies and director of the RITM Center. “We were inspired by their hard work and dedication, by their efforts to address societal challenges, and by their leadership in hundreds of local organizations and communities. And we were thrilled to learn of their wide-ranging academic achievements and areas of intellectual curiosity. We know that these high school students will make great contributions to the world in the years to come.”

The 35 award winners and semi-finalists represent 23 states and the District of Columbia, and a variety of commitments and causes of local and global importance. The 2019 awardees have earned distinction as scholars and leaders in the classroom, athletics, the arts, and service-related activities.

In their applications, finalists shared reflections about academic and extracurricular experiences that transformed their perspectives on subjects ranging from public education, civil rights, and environmental and social justice to economic equality, gender equity, grassroots and political organizing, and religious tolerance. Their nominations were supported by teachers, counselors, coaches, school principals, employers, pastors, and many others.

I am deeply inspired by the passion and engagement of these students who found ways to make public service not only a part of their lives but, in fact, a fierce commitment to making a difference in the world,” said Peter Crumlish, executive director and general secretary of Dwight Hall at Yale, the center for public service and social justice, who served on the selection committee.

Bassett Award recipients will receive a book written by a Yale faculty member and will be invited to Yale’s campus for an award ceremony in fall 2019, when they are high school seniors.

The faculty of the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration established the Bassett Award to honor young leaders who bring under-recognized perspectives to the public sphere, think deeply about our collective futures, and exemplify intelligence and courage as they work on behalf of others. The award honors Ebenezer Bassett, a Connecticut native who was an educator and public servant in the 19th century.

This year's Bassett Award  winners are:

Calvin Bell, III, Pennsauken, NJ

Maya Canady, Washington, DC

Marissa Castillo, Saginaw, MI

Rachel Clinton, Manhattan Beach, CA

Catherine Collins, Hinsdale, IL

Henry Cruz Reyes, Durham, NC

Selam Desta, Portland, ME

Hannah Edelstein, Brownsville, TX

Sylver Garcia, Wiggins, MS

Makayla Hieb, Albuquerque, NM

Catherine Martin, Santa Rosa, CA

Maria Mendoza, Vienna, VA

Matthew Merritt, Chattanooga, TN

Bianca Murray, Los Angeles, CA

Rhea Varma, Smyrna, GA

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Media Contact

Matthew S. Tanico: matthew.tanico@yale.edu, 203-432-3260