Meet the 2012 Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellows
Nanor Balabanian | Palo Alto, CA (Anjar, Lebanon)
• Undergraduate college and major: University of California, Santa Barbara, political science, minor in education
Donald Strauss Scholar bringing internet to an Armenian village school; teacher, multiple high school camps, including the National Student Leadership Conference; videographer for stories of terminally ill people (Life Chronicles); founder, UCSB Armenian dance team; fluent in Armenian, Arabic, and French.
Oliver Benders | Montclair, NJ
• Undergraduate college and major: Montclair State University, music education
Church musician and choir director at local church; volunteer at local elementary school instructing students how to play and care for their instruments, and acting as a piano accompanist for the glee club; avid weightlifter.
Christell Boyd-Abner | Philadelphia, PA
• Undergraduate college and major: University of Pittsburgh, psychology, minor in sociology
Volunteer, Philadelphia Freedom Schools; member, Reaching Inside of Yourself for Excellence (R.I.S.E.), working to boost minority retention rates in post-secondary institutions; member, International Honor Society in Psychology.
Shanée Brown | Bridgeport, CT
• Undergraduate college and major: Dartmouth College, English
Student director, Habitat for Humanity (Dartmouth) and member of Upper Valley Habitat Board committee; recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Group Award; mentor, Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth program; volunteer director, writer, and songwriter for an acting program for students; mentor in horticulture for fourth graders.
Nicole Caldwell | New York, NY
• Undergraduate college and major: The City College of New York, political science and Black studies, minor in psychology
Colin Powell Leadership Fellow (CCNY); researcher, senior thesis, “Punitive Disciplinary Actions in Urban High Schools”; city comptroller summer associate volunteer, Sean Elijah Bell Community Center; planner/coordinator, back-to-school charity event to show NYC students the benefits of school.
Donna Chung | El Cerrito, CA
• Undergraduate college and major: Brown University, Education Studies, minor in psychology
Research assistant, project on European, American, and Chinese immigrants’ children’s learning beliefs; honors thesis candidate examining Chinese American children’s racial perceptions; undergraduate teaching assistant and French language tutor; teacher, Breakthrough Silicon Valley; first-grade reading tutor; classical pianist and gold-level dancer; fluent in Cantonese, Chinese, and French.
Gabriella Corales | San Antonio, TX
• Undergraduate college and major: Texas State University, English and communication studies, minor in English
Researcher, effects of teacher clarity on student learning, recall, and effort; Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program; motivational speaker at area schools, with special focus on speaking to students about overcoming obstacles and persevering; president, First Generation Student Organization, TSU.
Jessica Correa | Los Angeles, CA
• Undergraduate college and major: Pomona College, psychology, minor in Spanish
Researcher on high school students and empowerment, psychology senior thesis; tutor and volunteer, Jumpstart; overseas English tutor; teaching assistant, Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS); first-generation American; avid cook.
Dustin Dacuan | Renton, WA
• Undergraduate college and major: University of Washington, international studies, minor in ethnic studies
Researcher, immigration and education; volunteer, literacy project, Paschal Sherman Indian School; volunteer, Cleveland High School Community Partners, Rainier Beach High School Community Partners, and Viking Visionaries; mentor and leader, University of Washington Dream Project, helping first-generation and low income students navigate the college admissions process.
Hillary Higgs | Springfield, MA
• Undergraduate college and major: Williams College, American studies with a concentration in Africana studies
Junior Olympic track coach; peer to peer mentor; former intern, National Education Association; mentor for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented minority students coming to Williams College; volunteer, Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth; passionate advocate for integrating the arts into general academics.
Ogechi Irondi | Laurel, MD
• Undergraduate college and major: Swarthmore College, special major in psychology and educational studies
Intern, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Whole Child Initiative; elementary school student teacher; coordinator, mentor, and tutor, Swarthmore’s Dare 2 Soar program; French teacher for third- through fifth-grade students; runner, Swarthmore track team.
Jeannette Jackson | New York, NY
• Undergraduate college and major: The City College of New York, English/creative writing
Active tutor and mentor since high school; advocate of problem-solving as a skill helping students to succeed in school and life; track athlete; hopes to relate to students on an academic level and help students establish the common goal of excelling.
Deborah Loperena | Granada Hills, CA (Cayo, Belize, Central America)
• Undergraduate college and major: California State University Northridge, liberal studies with a concentration in art
Special education assistant, three years; member of teacher selection committee; classroom experience, Pacific Palisades Charter High School; volunteer, Everyone’s a Reader program; Administrative Specialist in the U.S. Navy, 8.5 years, including role as trainer on equipment.
Cynthia Ma | Monterey Park, CA
• Undergraduate college and major: University of California – Los Angeles, chemical engineering
Intern, Baxter Bioscience, Procter & Gamble, and The Clorox Company; participant, California Teach program; teaching intern, two elementary and middle schools; advisor for the Youth Policy Institute’s math, science, and engineering afterschool campus; is currently relearning her native language, a Chinese dialect.
Allyson Miller | Rancho Cucamonga, CA
• Undergraduate college and major: University of California – Santa Barbara, Black studies, minor in education
Honors thesis candidate, positive factors in the education of Black girls; education minor with emphasis in teacher preparation; volunteer, local high school English classroom.
Olufemi “Shane” Ogunnaike | Irvington, NJ
• Undergraduate college and major: Swarthmore College, special major in sociology and anthropology and educational studies
Independent researcher/thesis candidate, pedagogical practices; tutor, mentor, and camp counselor; researcher with the NYU Beyond the Window Summer Youth Public Policy Institute; student teacher at local elementary schools; musician and DJ.
Jamilah Pitts | Columbus, OH
• Undergraduate college and major: Spelman College, English
AmeriCorps Jumpstart member/teacher in Beijing, China; tutor in Atlanta Public Schools; member of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT); intern at an education non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. as a fellow in the United Negro College Fund’s Social Entrepreneurship (K-12 Education Reform) program; first-generation college student.
Pamela Otunnu Porensky | Scarborough, ME
• Undergraduate college and major: University of Southern Maine, business administration with a concentration in marketing, minor in management
Volunteer, elementary school classroom; NAACP volunteer at a diverse middle school, working to decrease the achievement gap; tutor and mentor for disadvantaged youth, Youth Empowerment Group; former camp counselor and afterschool tutor; dedicated athlete and outdoors person, including wilderness survival skills.
Lisa Sullivan | Detroit, MI
• Undergraduate college and major: University of Arizona, English, minor in psychology
Volunteer in local schools as assistant volleyball coach, teacher’s aide, and chaperone; instructional specialist in community transitions program; personal instructor to students ages 18-22 with multiple disabilities; avid reader and video gamer.
Lindsey Todd | Ocean Pines, MD
• Undergraduate college and major: University of Pennsylvania, English/creative writing, minor in education
Volunteer mentor with students in high-need urban schools; National Achievement Scholar; intern with lesson planning responsibilities, Teacher’s Pet Publications; volunteer, Leaders of Change, a social and educational entrepreneurship program for West Philadelphia high school students; volunteer, Write Corps creative writing workshops.
Madelyn Troiano | Anchorage, AK
• Undergraduate college and major: Lewis & Clark College, Hispanic studies, minor in ethnic studies
Classroom volunteer; Spanish speaker; athlete and team leader in soccer; avid artist, recently taking up book and comic book making; passionate advocate of social justice and of creativity in the classroom.
Kamilah Welch | Boston, MA
• Undergraduate college and major: Wellesley College, peace and justice studies
Researcher, ways students negotiate their racial identity and success in the classroom; mentor and life skills coach for adolescent prison inmates during studies abroad in South Africa; volunteer, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, designing discussion forums on racial identity and academic achievement for youth; mentor and volunteer, several local schools.
Randyl Wilkerson | Chicago, IL
• Undergraduate college and major: Wesleyan University, English, minor in American studies
Volunteer and sexual education teacher for Connecticut high school students, Wesleyan’s AIDS Sexual Health Awareness Group; poet with a published collection, Astrobiology; member of the Wesleyan Poetry Slam Team (which placed sixth in the nation) and winner of Best Persona Piece Award, National Poetry Slam; current campus campaign coordinator, Teach for America.
Nastassia Williams | Bronx, NY
• Undergraduate college and major: Wesleyan University, African American studies, minor in English
Tutor at Traverse Square, an organization for elementary students in the surrounding community; SAT tutor with Let’s Get Ready; expert in African American literature; currently learning how to DJ.
Taylor Williams | Miami, FL
• Undergraduate college and major: Morehouse College, English
Intern at Breakthrough Miami, teaching English for two years; Jumpstart corps member helping lay the foundation for literacy skills; passionate writer, writing primarily on arts and entertainment for Morehouse’s student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, for four years.