As the newest recipients of the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship, these Swarthmore sophomores will tackle pressing social issues around the globe through innovative projects informed by research and partnerships with community-based organizations.
"The Lang Scholar Class of 2018 -- Maria Castañeda Soria ’18, Sonya Chen ’18, Mariah Everett ’18, and Tyler Huntington ’18 -- will pursue projects for social impact in the domains of immigrant workers' rights, Chinatown leadership development, refugee health care access, and City of Chester food access," says Ben Berger, associate professor of political science and interim executive director of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. "We are excited about these promising Scholars and their project plans."
This cohort joins the nearly 200 Lang Scholars whose projects have collectively provided social value to thousands of people in communities all around the world since the early 1980s. “We look forward to working with each Lang Scholar and to supporting their development in new ways," says Lang Scholar Advisor Jennifer Magee. "For instance, in Spring 2016, they will take Be the Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Principle and Practice together with Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change Denise Crossan. Crossan's expertise in community problem solving, identifying revenue streams, measuring social impact, and so on is directly applicable to the project work of Lang Scholars.”
Maria Castañeda Soria '18: Proyecto de Mujeres Migrantes/The Migrant Worker Women's Project
Proyecto de Mujeres Migrantes/The Migrant Worker Women's Project will work in partnership with El Centro de Derechos del Migrante. “Through this project, I aim to tackle the issue of women migrant workers’ rights abuses on a transnational scale using a sustainable, community‐supported model,” writes Castañeda Soria. “Because of this scholarship, I will be able to return to Mexico after 17 years and be a part of a new initiative. It is an opportunity to directly work with my community to create transnational change. As someone who has been through the experiences of being an immigrant, it means a lot to be able to start a project that will hopefully change things for the better.” Castañeda Soria, from Locust, N.C., is a special major in peace and conflict studies and Spanish.
Sonya Chen '18: Leadership Development and Mentoring in Philadelphia's Chinatown
Through "Leadership Development and Mentoring in Philadelphia Chinatown," Chen aims to partner with a local organization in Philadelphia's Chinatown to foster a generation of young leaders to tackle the inequities that face Chinatown and the Asian American Pacific Islander community. “I am truly grateful for and excited about this opportunity!" she writes. "As an Asian American woman, the immigrant community is one that I feel strongly connected to. To straddle the worlds of being ‘Asian’ and being ‘American’ can be both a struggle and a blessing; thus, I would like to help foster a safe and supportive space where Chinatown youth can explore their identities and tackle Asian‐American issues. I hope to develop meaningful relationships with the youth through mentoring, leadership development, and social justice education.” Chen, a political science and mathematics major, is from Hong Kong.
Mariah Everett '18: Refugee Health
Everett will develop a Lang Project in the area of refugee health. "To borrow the words of doctor and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer: 'For me, an area of moral clarity is: you're in front of someone who's suffering and you have the tools at your disposal to alleviate that suffering or even eradicate it, and you act,'" she writes. "The Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program will give me the tools to act to improve the quality of healthcare received by refugees in America. I am excited to embark on this journey working towards a more just world." Everett is a sociology and anthropology major and biology minor from Albuquerque, N.M.
Tyler Huntington '18: Harvest Circle
"Harvest Circle" will promote the development of an equitable, sustainable, and nourishing local food system in Chester, Pa. The program aims to increase food sovereignty, support healthy nutrition, and stimulate a community-based food economy through investing in small farmers, offering a flexible marketplace for consumers, supporting the startup of new residential gardens, and delivering educational programming. “I am filled with both gratitude and excitement," Huntington writes, "for the chance to implement a project that will allow more people to enjoy the nourishment that enables them to thrive." Huntington is from Danville, Calif.
"In welcoming a new class of four Lang Scholars this year, we are also able to reallocate resources for a post-baccalaureate Lang Fellowship," adds Berger. "That fellowship, now at the stage of research and collaboration with stakeholders, would support recent Swarthmore graduates as they design, implement, and scale projects for social impact. Inspired by the vision of Eugene Lang ’38 and building upon the rich tradition of the Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program to nurture social innovation makes this an exciting time for us all."
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 extra-curricular 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 Scholar a diverse succession of undergraduate and graduate financial and other benefits. The program was conceived and endowed by Eugene M. Lang '38.