Five Students Receive Saints Start Challenge Grants | St. Lawrence University

Five Students Receive Saints Start Challenge Grants

The Sophomore Success Initiative awarded five rising juniors Saints Start Challenge Grants to support students’ personally-developed independent research, creative, volunteer, and internship projects in the summer between sophomore and junior years. 

The five awardees will immerse themselves in a variety of interactive projects that promise to help them develop as people and engage positively with the communities around them. Each student will receive mentorship from a member of the St. Lawrence community, along with support from community partners unique to each endeavor. Students will share their experiences and discoveries at several campus venues in the fall.

Sophia Alvarez '21 of Manhattan, New York, will spend the summer traveling to Guatemala, Honduras and Belize to conduct ethnographic research in these Garifuna communities. Her project will allow her to learn about how cultures are maintained and reflected in the education of children, and she will be interviewing educators and parents about this topic. In another aspect of her research, Sophia looks forward to connecting with Garifuna anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists to gain knowledge regarding their perspective on the Garifuna culture, which she describes as "a transnational Afro-Caribbean community with its own distinct language and set of spiritual beliefs and practices." Alvarez will be mentored by Adam Harr, associate professor of anthropology. 

Luiz Gomez '21 of Bronx, New York, will serve as an academic advisor with Reach Prep in the Greater New York City Area. Reach Prep is a nonprofit which aims to put African American and Latinx students on track for college success through supplemental academic programming and enrollment in private school. He will aid sixth grade students with the academic and social transition of going from public school to private school. At the end of the summer, students will design an art exhibit that highlights positive aspects of their community to be showcased to alumni and peers of Reach Prep. Gomez will be supported by Melissa Proietti, adjunct instructor of education, and Sarah Coburn, associate director of Career Services.

Emily Grudzien '21 of Amherst, New Hampshire, will spend June studying the integration of climate change education in outdoor education programs. She is attempting to investigate the assumption that outdoor recreation inherently affects students’ environmental behavior. To do this, Grudzien will visit schools across the country, from New Hampshire to Colorado, asking faculty and staff in outdoor education programs how they perceive this behavioral change. She will also at the schools’ campuses and websites. Grudzien is interested in outdoor education in the future, and thus this project provides her with an opportunity for career development. She will receive support from LeAnn Holland, assistant professor of education coordinator of Educational Leadership Program.

Rachel Loyst '21 will participate in the Community Action, Research, and Education (CARE) fellowship this summer, which has a learning, research, and patient care component. She will volunteer with Hospeace House located in Naples, New York. The program will allow Loyst to learn about the importance of psychosocial support in end-of-life care, gain skills in communicating with patients, and be able to identify symptom management approaches for conditions common at the end of life. She will also learn to serve as a member of an interdisciplinary health care team and recognize the value provided from different healthcare professionals. Loyst hopes that the skills she will gain through this project will help her on her journey towards pursuing a career in the medical field. Leah Rohlfsen, associate professor and chair of sociology, will provide support and mentorship on Loyst’s project. 

Noah Neverette '21 of Pennellville, New York, will intern at the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory in Tupper Lake, New York. This internship involves facilitating informal science education classes for youth in the community during the week and hosting Friday night stargazing events that highlight a variety of themes and phenomena. His work will also include conducting fundraising activities for the organization’s $15 million capital campaign to build a planetarium and museum. Along with his communicating by letter and phone, the majority of fundraising will be done during two large events in July, which Neverette will play a key role in organizing. Aileen O’ Donoghue, Priest Associate Professor of Physics, will mentor Neverette throughout his internship.

Funding for the Saints Start Challenge Grants program has been provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.