Princeton University seniors Sacha Finn and Harriet Kristin Wilson have been awarded 2014 fellowships from ReachOut 56-81-06, an alumni-funded effort that supports yearlong public service projects after graduation. Each student will receive $30,000.
Finn will use her ReachOut 56-81-06 fellowship to create a guide for youth and young adults born through assisted reproductive technologies (ART) with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) parents. She will work with the New York chapter of COLAGE, a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring together individuals with LGBTQ parents.
Wilson, who has received the 1956 ReachOut International Fellowship, will be working with the LEAP Africa Foundation and Greensprings High School in Lagos, Nigeria, to develop a literary literacy after-school program as a path to advocacy.
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. Two holders of ReachOut 56-81-06 grants are currently serving in Nicaragua and South Africa.
"We are pleased once again, for the 14th 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 2014 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.
Finn, who is from West Hollywood, Calif., is an anthropology major pursuing a pre-medicine track. She has undertaken numerous health-related internships.
Finn, as the donor-conceived daughter of lesbian parents, said she is well aware of the challenges of growing up in a "different" family and she hopes to assist the children of LGBTQ parents in the often "painful journey of self-discovery." She hopes that a guide will help children navigate such a journey.
"During my fellowship, I will create the ART Guide, an informational electronic publication for youth and young adults coping with the many questions and social phobias of growing up in an LGBTQ family constructed through the use of assisted reproductive technologies," Finn said. "With resources such as the ART Guide, future generations of youth can learn from my generation's successes and hardships."
She also hopes to contribute to campaigns against anonymous egg/sperm donations and for increased genetic screening in ART.
Finn plans to pursue a career in medicine.
Wilson retains close ties to Nigeria and hopes to address issues there related to the disparity between rich and poor. Her project proposes to develop opportunities for privileged students in Nigerian private schools to be better engaged with their less privileged peers in the community.
Wilson plans to train high school students, specifically from the private Greensprings High School, to teach literature and creative skills to children in the LEAP education program. In coordinating this initiative, Wilson will oversee the production, publication and exhibition of chapbooks and artistic works produced by the students.
"My project aims to provide mentorship and access to education for inner-city Lagos youth on current social, political and health issues while engaging them in the active and creative process of documenting and solving some of the issues that affect their lives," she said.
Having previously worked with ReachOut 56-81-06 as a volunteer coordinating their College Awareness program for students in New York City, Wilson said she is "immensely grateful for the opportunity to work with ReachOut in this new capacity."
Pointing to the "awe-inspiring" civic engagement emphasized by ReachOut, Wilson said she hopes that her work during the fellowship and after is "similarly compassionate, innovative and productive."
After completing her fellowship, Wilson is considering further academic study and also is interested in working in the nonprofit sector.