Six Sophomores Named
Lang Opportunity Scholars
by Stacey Kutish
Six sophomores are the newest recipients of the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship, which provides a guaranteed summer internship, educational enhancement funds, and the opportunity to apply for up to $10,000 to create a project that addresses a social problem. Scholars who successfully complete a project are also eligible for up to $5,000 each year for graduate studies, up to two years."We welcome these members of the Class of 2013 to the fine tradition Lang Opportunity Scholars have for working toward significant social change, locally, nationally, and internationally," says Joy Charlton, executive director of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. "These students have established significant goals for themselves and have proposed real plans for achieving them, and we look forward to supporting them as they develop their ambitious projects."
Partnering with the College Access Center of Delaware County and The Achievement Project, Nick Allred will help high school students from Chester, Pa., navigate the perplexing waters of college financial aid. He plans to follow a cohort of students through the college application process, assisting them in applying for financial aid from colleges, the government, and foundations. He will also create a handbook for parents, students, and counselors as a comprehensive guide to the financial aid process, track policy changes regarding financial aid, and advocate for low-income students who struggle to pay for college.
Ariel Finegold was a Chester Community Fellow in summer 2010 where she was the first Swarthmore student to intern in Chester City’s government, at the Chester Economic Development Authority. As a Lang Opportunity Scholar, Ariel, working in partnership with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, will offer a financial literacy course and financial counseling to adults in Chester, Pa. she will train counselors and instructors who will help program participants avoid common financial mistakes and teach them about spending behaviors, the credit rating system, savings vehicles, and financial best practices. The program will also help participants develop a plan for resolving existing financial problems, such as debt. Participants who complete the course will receive an initial deposit into a savings account to help start off their new financial lives.
With the assistance of a Swarthmore Foundation grant, Avilash Pahi established a library and resource center at the Manovikas Kendra Special School in Kolkata, India, in summer 2010. Avilash’s summer project focused on providing resources to serve students with special needs, providing books and other learning resources to children often overlooked in traditional learning settings, as well as their teachers and caregivers. Based on this success, Avilash will use his Lang Opportunity Scholarship grant to expand this model and establish six more libraries and five more resource centers at sites throughout Kolkata. He also plans to establish an inter-library loan system (inspired by the Tri-College system in which Swarthmore participates) so that the libraries and resource centers can share resources.
Victoria Pang was a Chester Community Fellow in summer 2010, interning with the Chester Education Foundation, a non-profit that runs the largest after school program available to K–12 students in the Chester Upland School District. In the course of her work, she met many high school students who expressed the desire "to serve rather than be served" and to "work with younger students." In response to that interest — and to cuts that were recently made in after school programs in Chester — Victoria is developing Chester Serves. This youth-led program will foster mentorship between older and younger Chester students as they engage in community-based projects of their choosing throughout the city.
Working with churches and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in New York, N.Y., Maria Gloria Robalino plans to develop Letters to the Past and Present, a program designed to re-establish family bonds between parents and children of Hispanic immigrant families who are separated by immigration. The program will encourage immigrants enrolled in ESL programs to write letters, in English, to family members and friends in their home countries — both as a way to help them improve their English and as a way to remain in touch with the people they left behind. English is now commonly taught in schools throughout Latin America, so the immigrant’s children will be able to read the letters of their immigrant parents.
Sonja Spoo’s project will work in partnership with Dawn’s Place, a sanctuary for sexually exploited and trafficked women in Philadelphia, Pa., to provide literacy and GED tutoring programs as well as general support services to the women. Sonja will recruit volunteers from the Swarthmore College community, including the Women’s Resource Center, Swarthmore Womyn of Color Collective, and the Swarthmore Christian Fellowship, among others. The project also aims to raise awareness about human trafficking and sexual slavery in the greater Philadelphia area.