As the newest recipients of the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship (LOS), six Swarthmore sophomores will be tackling social action projects here and around the globe.
“The Lang Scholar Class of 2022 is an inspiring cohort who exemplify engaged scholarship,” says Jennifer Magee, senior associate director for the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, who advises the scholars. “With the mentoring and resources available through the Lang Center, Lang Scholars gain the knowledge, connections, and skills needed to craft effective and innovative solutions to complex social challenges.”
"Traditionally, Lang Opportunity Scholarships (and the encompassing field of engaged scholarship) have been much more accessible to projects based in the social sciences than to those based in STEAM fields,” adds Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center and associate professor of political science, referring to fields based in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. “The Lang Center has been working to foster greater inclusivity and outreach, and this year’s LOS cohort boasts our greatest concentration of meaningful STEAM-involved projects.
“I’m proud of our scholars and of Dr. Magee’s long-term efforts."
The members of the Lang Scholar Class of 2022 are:
Tristan Alston ’22 (Housatonic, Mass.)
“The relationship between structural racism and the poverty, crime, and social unrest in many urban Black communities is indisputable. Through a youth photojournalism program, I hope to address and dismantle the cyclical traumas and forces of systemic racism in Brownsville, Brooklyn. I hope to create positive, lasting relationships between urban youth of color and the various surrounding disconnected/oppressive populations, and to create social and economic hope in the process. ‘Peace in Focus’ reimagines a model of social engagement that transcends community boundaries, and that strives to create collective narratives that center and uplift silenced and marginalized voices.
“To me, being a Lang Scholar means having a unique opportunity to engage with social injustices and imagine their innovative solutions, to effect genuine and concrete change, and to begin constructing a future that makes this work a viable lifelong commitment. I hope that I’ll be able to utilize my personal and institutional privileges to acknowledge, uplift, and celebrate the voices of silenced Black and Brown communities, and to transcend my academic experience in the process.”
Eduardo Burgos ’22 (Greybull, Wyo.)
“Communities of color in the U.S. continue to experience repercussive defects in health equality due to generations of Western colonization, violence, U.S. imperialism, and White supremacy. When considering methods to reduce health care inaccessibility of marginalized populations, larger structural forms of oppression must be taken into consideration. As a Lang Scholar, I envision using nonprofit organizations that serve migrant populations as catalysts for immigration policy change. Direct medical services positively impact communities of the present, but long-lasting change can only be approached using medical inequity experiences as evidence for change. By [facilitating] medical care at migrant work sites, roadblocks to care are reduced and long-lasting health practices can be established.
“Being a Lang Scholar means being able to advocate for and support migrant working communities, like my own. Through my project, I hope to support migrant workers in developing long-lasting health practices and shed light on their experiences to promote medical practice change.”
Shay Downey ’22 (Tahlequah, Okla.)
“The legacy of violence against our native women and children needs to end, but in order to stop any instance of injustice, we must start by acknowledging its existence. My project aims to promote advocacy for missing and murdered Indigenous women and make resources to support survivors more accessible. Ultimately, I seek to assist in the reform of tribal policies to defend the rights of Native women who have historically been oppressed and silenced.
“Being a Lang Scholar means being connected to many resources that enable me to follow my passion and help my community and those around me. Through my project, I hope to advocate for the rights of Native peoples and gain an understanding of how social change can be initiated.”
Luke Neureiter ’22 (Denver, Colo.)
“Peace engineering is an emerging field that encompasses a broad set of methodologies all with the same goal: building, preserving, and promoting peace around the world. Whether it be building renewable and sustainable neighborhoods from the ground up or promoting dialogue to build long-lasting connections, peace engineering includes both people and projects. I am incredibly honored to be a part of the LOS community and am excited at the prospect of helping define what peace engineering means at Swarthmore.”
Chunyang Wang ’22 (Beijing, China)
“The FreeArt Initiative aims to improve disadvantaged children’s access to art education in China. Because of the hukou policy, many migrant students are only able to attend under-resourced schools. The FreeArt Initiative will partner with community-based organizations, university student volunteers, and art galleries to deliver a highly structured art curriculum. As lessons focus on inspiring collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, students will benefit from improved technical and interpersonal skills as well as interaction with the professional art sector. The first program of FreeArt Initiative will take place in the form of a summer camp, which hopes to reach 25 students and produce one student-led group exhibition.
“I’m extremely grateful to join the LOS community, developing myself to be an asset for less-resourceful communities. I hope that the successful execution of the project will convince the larger community of the indispensable role of art education.”
Hussain Zaidi ’22 (Lahore, Pakistan)
“My project aims to prepare and educate health care professionals, medical students, and policymakers on the negative impact that decentralization can have on health care availability and quality for vulnerable communities (specifically LGBTQ+ communities), advocate for a hybrid approach of both decentralization and centralization of health services to different levels, and introduce relevant educational curriculum in medical and training schools to reduce the negative impacts that devolution of health care has on certain stigmatized communities.
“Having the support of the community at Swarthmore College through the Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program in my endeavor to make health care more inclusive for minority populations in Pakistan is extremely reassuring for me, given the stigma surrounding working for these communities. As a member of a community which can be negatively impacted by processes like decentralization of health care in conservative communities like Pakistan, I am motivated to pursue my project within this issue area in hopes that I can create better and more accessible health care for communities that I care deeply about.”
The Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program each year selects up to six members of Swarthmore’s sophomore class as Lang Scholars. Selection criteria include distinguished academic and extracurricular achievement, leadership qualities, and demonstrated commitment to civic and social responsibility. As its central feature, the program offers each scholar the opportunity and related funding to conceive, design, and carry out an opportunity project that creates a needed social resource and/or effects a significant social change or improved condition of a community in the United States or abroad. In addition, it offers each Lang Scholar a diverse succession of undergraduate and graduate financial and other benefits. The program was conceived and endowed by Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81.
Learn about Swarthmore’s impact on the local and global community at lifechanging.swarthmore.edu.