Photos by Denise Applewhite
Two seniors awarded ReachOut fellowships for international public service
Posted February 11, 2013; 04:15 p.m.
Princeton University seniors Abigail Greene and Christina Laurenzi have been awarded 2013 fellowships from ReachOut 56-81-06, an alumni-funded effort that supports yearlong public service projects after graduation.
Greene will use her $30,000 ReachOut 56-81-06 Fellowship to help provide low-cost, high-quality health care to women in Nicaragua. She will be working with Pro Mujer, a women's development and microfinance organization.
Laurenzi will be working with the Philani Child Health and Nutrition Project in the rural O.R. Tambo district of South Africa. She will use the $30,000 1956 ReachOut International Fellowship to work on two maternal- and child-health projects.
ReachOut 56-81-06 is an effort by members of the Princeton Classes of 1956, 1981 and 2006 to underwrite valuable public service projects. The international fellowship is funded through a donation by a Class of 1956 alumnus. Four holders of ReachOut56-81-06 grants are now serving around the world.
"We are pleased once again, for the 13th consecutive year, to provide fellowships for a year to outstanding graduating Princeton students who present projects of innovative and significant social value," said Jack Fritts, a 1956 alumnus and co-chair of ReachOut 56-81-06. "The 2013 recipients — two outstanding seniors with excellent records of achievement and public interest activity — have proposed projects that epitomize our goals. Each will receive $30,000 from ReachOut for the year. As in the past, these thoughtful projects identify and implement solutions for societal problems, in the tradition of 'Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of all nations.'"
Candidates for the fellowships devise a project that addresses a significant need. Special weight is given to projects of social significance that are innovative, creative and/or entrepreneurial.
Greene, who is from Katonah, N.Y., is a psychology major pursuing certificates in quantitative and computational neuroscience and French. She developed her passion for the plight of women in Nicaragua during a weeklong service trip to the country.
"Since my first visit to Nicaragua in 2007, I have become increasingly aware of, and troubled by, the compounding challenges faced by women of the developing world," Greene said. "Lack of access to adequate medical resources and stigmatization of gender-specific needs together ensure that women rarely receive the information and services that they need."
Greene will work with Pro Mujer to provide gender-specific health care to women in rural Nicaragua.
She will also work on the continuing effort to integrate health-care delivery with the financial services offered by the organization, which provides mini-grants and relevant training to women starting small businesses. She said her experience as a founding member of Princeton's Peer Health Advisers will help supplement her academic foundation in psychology as she works with Pro Mujer's clients.
"Although I'll only be in Nicaragua for a year, I hope to help build something that lasts far longer — a viable health care delivery model for women of Nicaragua and beyond," Greene said.
She plans to pursue a career as a physician-scientist, uniting academic and clinical medicine efforts.
Laurenzi, who is from Mountain Lakes, N.J., is a politics major who is pursuing a certificate in global health and health policy. She has been honored with a 2010-11 Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.
Laurenzi's fellowship project has its roots in an internship she participated in during the summer of 2012 with the Outreach Program at the Philani Development Center. She collected and organized data from 5,100 community health workers' patient folders to develop a report measuring workers' performance and caseloads, and general statistics on nutrition, HIV and social support grants in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape province of South Africa. She also participated in home visits with clients.
During her fellowship in the O.R. Tambo district in the Eastern Cape province, Laurenzi will design an evaluation and monitoring system for the Mentor Mother Zithulele community health program. She will also work with the Zithulele Birth Follow-Up Study, a research project pioneered by her former colleagues at Philani Child Health and Nutrition Project.
"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to spend the year in Zithulele, working with Philani's staff to strengthen and expand their outreach program," Laurenzi said. "Through the ReachOut fellowship, I will be helping to determine better strategies for connecting community health workers to mothers-to-be and malnourished children, and for making services more effective."
After completing her fellowship, Laurenzi plans to enter graduate school and pursue a career in the nonprofit sector or with a development organization.