Princeton seniors Stephenson, Wagner awarded ReachOut fellowships for public service

Princeton seniors Danielle Stephenson and Riley Wagner have been awarded fellowships from ReachOut 56-81-06, an alumni-funded effort that supports year-long public service projects after graduation.

Each student will receive a stipend of $30,000 to pay for living expenses during their fellowship year.

Stephenson will use her fellowship to work with LA’s BEST Afterschool Enrichment program in Los Angeles.

Wagner will spend his fellowship year in Argentina with Ingeniería Sin Fronteras (ISF, or Engineers Without Borders) planning and executing a water distribution system in the community of San Antonio de Copo.

ReachOut 56-81-06 is an effort by members of the Princeton classes of 1956, 1981 and 2006 to underwrite valuable public service projects, with special weight given to those of social significance that are innovative, creative, entrepreneurial or a combination thereof.

Each year, ReachOut awards one fellowship for a domestic project and one for an international project. The latter can be performed anywhere in the world, including the United States. The international fellowship is funded through a donation by a Class of 1956 alumnus. Two ReachOut fellows are currently in the field, working with Dogs4Diabetics in the San Francisco Bay Area and with Sesame Workshop to create “Lulus America,” a bilingual online video series.

“We are pleased once again, for the 20th consecutive year, to provide fellowships to outstanding graduating Princeton students who take the less traveled path out of the University: they design their own innovative and socially impactful year-long projects,” said Jon Wonnell and Marty Johnson of the Class of 1981, who are co-chairs of ReachOut 56-81-06. “The 2020 recipients — two outstanding seniors with extraordinary backgrounds — have developed projects that epitomize our goals: to bring unique solutions to societal challenges, in the tradition of Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.”

“Each fellow completes a project that the sponsoring organization could not afford to do otherwise,” said Jim Freund of the Class of 1956, founder of the fellowship program and co-chair of ReachOut’s Fellowship Committee. “We consider this an excellent means by which our financial contribution serves a real purpose, through the energetic efforts of a talented public-spirited graduate.”

Danielle Stephenson

Danielle Stephenson

Danielle Stephenson

Stephenson, of Guam, is concentrating in the Department of French and Italian and earning certificates in jazz studies and journalism.

Music has been a key aspect of Stephenson’s time at Princeton. She sings with the Jazz Vocal Collective and Creative Large Ensemble, as well as Sensemaya and the Tigressions. A singer-songwriter, she self-released an extended-play solo album digitally, named “Water Signs.”

At LA’s BEST, which serves children ages 5 to 12 from low-income families, she will develop and implement a music education curriculum in a series of Los Angeles schools that will introduce students to GarageBand software to teach the fundamentals of music theory and production.

Stephenson is a peer academic adviser in Whitman College, one of Princeton’s six residential colleges. She is a learning consultant at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and works as a kindergarten tutor at Princeton Young Achievers.

“My study of music has taught me the way that music uplifts people and builds community,” said Stephenson. “My volunteer and work experience in elementary education has shown me that arts instruction allows children to be agents of their own expression.”

Riley Wagner

Riley Wagner

Riley Wagner

Wagner, from Waynesboro, Virginia, is a concentrator in chemical and biological engineering and is earning a certificate in sustainable energy.

Wagner has gained extensive hands-on experience related to water distribution systems as a Princeton undergraduate. For the past four years, he volunteered with the Princeton Engineers Without Borders Peru Team working on the design and implementation of a 15-kilometer (over 9 miles) gravity fed water system in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes, which now delivers potable water to more than 200 people

During his fellowship in Argentina, he will work closely with a school in San Antonio de Copo, helping build technical skills among the older students. Wagner also will strengthen the organization’s capacity to adopt future projects by developing a comprehensive set of resources related to water distribution systems. When at ISF- Argentina’s office in Buenos Aires, he will assist with teaching alternative energy methods to young professionals and the general public.

“I am passionate about international development and I believe that through a one-year fellowship from ReachOut, I could make a substantial and lasting impact on both the organization and the communities that it serves,” Wagner said. “These types of engineering projects are designed to operate for at least 20 years, so this work is expected to have a profound impact on this community even decades after this fellowship has ended.”

Along with his experiences in Peru, Wagner pursued further international opportunities as an undergraduate. He had summer internships relating to renewable energy in Germany and the Philippines. He spent the spring semester of his sophomore year studying in Santander, Spain, at the Universidad de Cantabria, and followed that experience the following summer by studying Italian.

He has served as a Study Abroad Global Ambassador at Princeton to share his insights with other students interested in studying abroad and is co-founder of the Princeton Exchange Student Network, a student group aimed at easing the adjustment to Princeton from incoming international exchange students. 

Wagner is a member of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and is affiliated with Rockefeller College.