Honoring a Legacy: 7 U-M Students Receive Wallenberg Summer Travel Awards

For more than seven years, a particular group of U-M students comes back from a summer abroad, transformed. They travel to Cambodia, Kenya, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Ecuador and elsewhere in the world. They work to mitigate arsenic pollution, assist grassroot community health organizations, find alternative income sources for orphanages, and participate in other independent projects they design themselves. They are Wallenberg Summer Travel Award recipients.

The Wallenberg Summer Travel Awards allow selected students to take part in community service projects or civic participation anywhere in the world, This may include volunteer work with a humanitarian organization such as a school, clinic or aid program, or the exploration of humanitarian issues not well understood in the U.S.

The program honors the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg, who, as a student at the University of Michigan in the 1930s, traveled across North America to observe and learn from people of all kinds on their own terms. This experience helped him understand the human condition, and shaped his lifelong concern for human dignity and humanitarian values. His heroic efforts during World War II to rescue the surviving Jews of Budapest are an inspiring demonstration of how one individual can make a difference in the world.

This year’s recipients include the following deserving students:

Jesse Contreras

Jesse Contreras, a Master’s student in the School of Public Health, will spend his summer in Mexico City working on the initial pilot in a study to describe poorly understood effects of waste water on health, informing the World Health Organization in creating new guidelines for its use in agriculture.

Anna Joseph

Anna Joseph, a joint Master’s student in the School of Public Health and the School of Social Work, will travel to the Dominican Republic to develop a psychoeducational support group curriculum for HIV+ youth and develop a transition process for HIV+ adolescents who are aging out of the pediatric health care system.

Jennifer Bourlier

Jennifer Bourlier, an LSA sophomore studying computer science, plans to teach English to school children in Peru, hoping to make a lifelong difference in the lives of the students with whom she will work, a passion that stems from from her commitment to justice and educational equity.

Katherine Finn

Katherine Finn, a senior in the School of Nursing, will travel to Uganda to work with children who are cognitively impaired due to severe episodes of cerebral malaria.

Jasmine Paula Kipke

Jasmine Paula Kipke, an LSA junior studying neuroscience, proposes to travel to Uganda to develop a model to reduce obstetric fistula cases, improve community knowledge, and lessen negative community stigma against women who suffer from this health condition.

Ryan Thomas

Ryan Thomas, a junior in the College of Engineering, will live in the Dominican Republic to create an extensive collection of need statements from physicians, clinicians, patients, community members and health officials to design and create a multidisciplinary team to implement some of these needs from this assessment.

Lucia Michelazzo Ceroni

Lucia Michelazzo Ceroni, a junior in the School of Nursing, will travel to Argentina to implement healthcare workshops focused on youth health education to empower and educate underserved populations.