Fellow Spotlight Archive

August 2020 - Alejandra Bonilla (2020 Brandeis Fellow)

Fellow Spotlight: Alejandra Bonilla

Irma Zamarripa Headshot

Because of the Segal Program, I am connected to a versatile group of folks who inspire and provide me with strength to pursue my goals. I was able to explore the housing world, outside of my comfort zone of grassroots organizing, and gain new and enriching knowledge that has made me a more competitive and prepared candidate for future career/organizing goals.

I was brought up within the context of housing instability and have witnessed, not only in my home, but also with complete strangers, the consequential weight that arises from not having secure housing. I am aware of the importance of proper representation when describing the ways in which housing affects everyone involved. As of right now, I aspire to take the LSAT, so I can apply to law school in a year or two, and potentially do a dual degree program with a JD and master’s in public policy. I recently began studying for the LSAT, while simultaneously continuing my Segal Internship with the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC). The work I do at SFHAC is reflective of my future career goals, as I am interested in exploring a career around housing law. This internship has equipped me with the knowledge and understanding of what housing in the Bay Area looks like, including its politics and community-based work, as well as the generational effects that one sided political decision making has on marginalized communities. All this drives and inspires my goal to receive an education that will allow me to best support my community.  

Alejandra Marshalling Black Lives Matter ProtestThis summer, I spent some time at home with my family in California, time in Minnesota visiting my partner, and have now returned to Waltham, MA, to prepare for my senior year at Brandeis. Due to the pandemic, my role as a daughter and advocate for my family has enhanced in many areas, as I have been putting my best effort into supporting my family with health, immigration and public resources. Additionally,  through the Segal Program, I have been virtually interning at the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC), where I have written letters of support for housing developers and worked on social media and website upkeep, and where I am constantly learning about housing language and its politics. Furthermore, I have done my best to stay in tune with supporting my community and its movements by acting as an English to Spanish translator for many Cosecha MA meetings, as well as attending and marshalling their Licenses for All protest. I also protested and marched for Black Lives Matter and bought medical products for on the ground EMTs in Minnesota. Through all of this, I have tried my hardest to still find time to be a source of support for my family, friends and comrades. 

The current state of events in the USA has only been fueled and heightened by the pandemic and our inability to continue with normalized subjugation. We, the Black, Indigenous and people of color of the USA, are aware of our disparities before recent societal changes and continue to be aware of them. This pandemic and the horrific killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, only made it so that it is impossible to turn a blind eye. It woke the ignorant and forced them out of their comfort. I believe that my work, activism, and citizen leadership has not changed immensely. The manner in which I do all of this has just adjusted. It obviously all feels riskier. Choosing to attend protests comes with the heightened risk and fear of police brutality and being exposed to COVID. Most organizing now happens virtually. Whether it be in-person or online, I continue my work in educating myself and those around me, I translate/interpret when needed for different groups, and I support my loved ones in whatever way possible. These events have personally and professionally only reaffirmed my goals and aspirations to continue working until our communities get the justice and liberation we deserve. 

Being a part of the Segal Network has been so reaffirming and crucial for my future during these trying times. To this day, I still amaze myself for having applied for the fellowship while abroad in Chile during the beginning of the social revolution there. Returning early from my abroad experience in Mexico to a state of emergency, financial issues at home, and the constant unknown of the future, Segal helped me shape my immediate path in a positive, enriching manner. It kept me secure knowing that I still had opportunities and experiences to look forward to virtually. The amount of support, guidance, and love I receive from Segal Program staff and the Fellows has been so crucial for me during this pandemic. The Fellowship has given me concrete reassurance in pursuing my future goals through constant motivation, cohort calls, check-ins, my mentor’s

July 2020 - Marcelo Brociner (2017 Brandeis Fellow)

Segal Fellow Spotlight: Marcelo Brociner

Marcelo Brociner, Segal Fellow

The valuable insights provided by Segal Fellows, both in formal and informal settings, have helped guide me in strengthening my work, both as an educator and artist. 

My ultimate goal in life is to inspire young people in Somerville and anywhere on Earth to stand up for what they believe in and work both independently and collectively towards actionable change that is guided by their internal compass. Thankfully, I'm able to work towards this goal both through my profession and my passions. Currently, I teach TV/Media Production and Film Studies at Somerville High School (SHS). The content of my courses allows for my students to express themselves by creating their own content and having difficult conversations about issues raised in the films we watch. As an artist, I express my own vision through the different mediums I work with, which encourages others to do the same, both through the act of creating itself and the actual content that I produce. My work as an educator and artist focuses primarily on my hometown of Somerville. When you zoom out, that lens translates to an underlying pride for one's own roots and community, regardless of where one comes from or where they are. I was able to share with the greater Segal Fellow community by hosting a Fellow-led feature on Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, in which we discussed the prescient story of systemic racism within communities. Whether I'm showing a film about systemic racism, making a song or visual piece about gentrification, or creating spaces for local artists to inspire the community with their talents, I aim to empower young people to leave a mark on the world, big or small. 

I'm currently enjoying my first summer vacation since I was a student at SHS, which is where I now work! This free time has been liberating, as I'm finally learning how to make beats for my music and create art on Photoshop using film photographs that I've taken primarily in Somerville, which are two things that I've wanted to do for a long time now. While it's been great to further explore my own creativity, I'm also deeply concerned about what learning is going to look like for this upcoming school year. As a member of the Somerville Teachers Association (STA), our city's teachers union, we're working to figure out how to best meet the needs of our students and their families given the unprecedented challenges that have come with COVID-19. While remote learning was difficult for teachers, students, and families alike, the only thing more important than a young person's education is their physical safety. With that in mind, we are pushing for school to be held remotely for the entirety of the 2020-21 school year, if not at least for the first few months. As an educator and an artist, I am keen on uplifting the voices of those who have been overlooked and unheard for too long. The voices of students and their families need to be at the forefront in shaping how learning looks during a pandemic, and that's what we're focusing on with the STA.

The student body at SHS is incredibly diverse, and the presence of young people from so many walks of life is central to my love for SHS, beginning when I was a student there and continuing into present day as a teacher. In the classroom, I make sure that the content we engage with is reflective of our student population, because the learning we do then resonates deeply with students. I take a lot of pride in identifying as both Jewish and a white-passing Cuban-American, and having grown up in Somerville. I know that my students are also proud of their roots. As an artist, the pandemic and awakening across the country (and world) to the forces of systemic racism has taught me to take a big step back from the creative work that I do in order to better understand why it is that I make art, and what role I want to play in the artist community, both within and beyond Boston. For me, now is not the time to focus on entrepreneurial endeavors, but on all of the learning and unlearning that we have to do on an individual level, as well as on a societal scale, in order to progress through the times we are living in. Working as a member of the STA has taught me about the importance of collective action, and it's been inspiring to see so many passionate educators come together to figure out how we can best serve our community. Both in Somerville and around the country, returning to school in September would disproportionately affect communities of color, and we're going to make sure that we don't let that happen. 

Being a part of the Segal Network has provided me with a support system of dozens of like minded folks with a range of experiences and knowledge that I can reach out to whenever I need help of any sort. The informal check-ins happening remotely are a great space to learn from my peers and build on the work I'm doing in my own life, and events such as in-person socials and the biannual retreat are powerful reminders of the wider family that I joined as a new Fellow back in 2017. I was happy to have presented my passion for Arts and my work to highlight and address gentrification at our 2019 Segal Fellow Retreat. Having the contact information of all of these citizen leaders reminds me that I'm never alone in my efforts towards creating impactful and lasting social change.

Marcelo Brociner leading an art activity at the 2019 Segal Fellow Retreat

 

May & June 2020 - Thank you to our Frontline Segal Fellows

Special Thank You to our Frontline Workers

Our Segal Fellows work and volunteer in a variety of jobs, fields, and sectors, actively demonstrating our philosophy that there is no one way to be a citizen leader. Some of our Fellows are working during the COVID-19 pandemic as front line workers, helping those in need during this crisis. This summer we are highlighting some of the efforts of our Fellows in health care and education, as they give back (#segalfellowsgive).

 

April 2020 - Edith Suarez (2018 Heller/MPP Fellow)

April 2020 Fellow Spotlight Edith Suarez

Edith SuarezBecause of the Segal Program, I had the opportunity to work in a housing organization in my hometown of Long Beach, CA, where I had the opportunity to learn from community organizers and connect with other leaders involved in grassroots organizing, both in immigration and mass incarceration as well. 

I believe in a higher power, and it is amazing to think that a couple years back during my Segal Interview and in other spaces, I stated that I wasn't sure exactly where I saw myself in 10 years. If I thought about the next few years, I wanted to be involved with issues impacting black and brown communities in the areas of immigration, education, and/or mass incarceration. Today I am currently helping lead a program that is a combination of some of these issues.  Although I am not sure where life will take me, I am inspired by the stories, the wisdom, and the goals that many of the students I work with share with me, both at Brandeis and at Waltham Partnership for Youth. In many ways, the students at Brandeis remind me of my own journey as an undergraduate student, and the stories of the high school students I work with bring me so close to the stories my parents have shared with me about their own journey.  

I am currently holding two positions. My full time role at Waltham Partnership for Youth is as a Program Coordinator, where I am helping lead a new collaborative initiative that works with Latinx youth and families who recently arrived in the US from a Spanish speaking country and are still becoming bilingual and/or multilingual. This program intends to become part of the students’ support system, both academically and non-academically, to support them throughout their high school journey to help ensure high school graduation. My part time role is at Brandeis University, where I am the Academic Administrator for the Latin American and Latino Studies Program. There, I am also working with students in a different capacity, and I absolutely enjoy it.  

When I am not working, I am using this time to stay in touch with my family and friends, exercising, practicing family recipes, and spending a bit more time reading and writing. I am currently working towards collecting family recipes and stories. It is great to see my interests align into a project that I can actively work on, and even more exciting to see one of my articles published in medium.com.

Throughout my life, and as I learn more and more about peoples’ journeys, I am reminded that we all need someone to help us, support us, give us a hand, something. The reality is that although sometimes only certain people get the credit, there is always a list of people who played a role in that success, big or small. For me the Segal Fellowship has become that. Not only have I met new people, the opportunity I had going to Long Beach, CA, for my Segal internship allowed me to meet more people and build relationships there, even though I was studying in Boston, MA. Everything is interconnected, and the Segal Fellowship has been part of that connection.

Pictured Above: Edith Suarez (second from left)  with Sin Fronteras, a Latinx Graduate Student Organization at Brandeis University founded by Edith

March 2020 - Marisa Lovaincy (2012 Heller/MPP Fellow)

March 2020 Fellow Spotlight: Marisa Lovaincy

 

Marisa LovaincyBecause of the Segal program, I've been able to meet people in different places in life and their careers and connect over our shared passion for citizen leadership. Attending the retreat each year after a new cohort joins always invigorates me. 

In my professional life, I aspire to learn exceptional project management skills that are transferable to any industry. I also aspire to do good for the community through my personal life and job. While my company is in the private sector, they support giving back to the community; I've volunteered to lead a team internally to promote how the company supports community engagement. As a Segal Fellow since 2012, I have grown my capacity to manage relationships with many different people from all walks of life, being both a Segal Buddy and Regional Ambassador for the Boston Region. Being an active part of this Program since I joined has allowed me to connect with many people who have similar goals to me.  Over the next few years, I hope to grow even more as a citizen leader in my personal life through more involvement with federal and local elections and potentially utilize my skills and business acumen to assist a nonprofit by joining their board.  

Currently, I work for Liberty Mutual in their Auto Personal Insurance department as an internal consultant. My role is focused on how I can improve and streamline the auto claims process and tools for auto adjusters and insurance customers. To further enhance my connection with the Segal Network, I have volunteered to serve as the Regional Ambassador for Fellows living in the Boston and New England region. My role consists of coordinating social events, with help from the Segal Program staff, to provide social gatherings, events, and opportunities to connect, share stories, and support each other’s personal and professional goals. I wanted to get involved as the Regional Ambassador in Boston as a way to welcome new Boston-based Fellows into the fold throughout the year; as well as provide a space for veteran ellows to re-connect outside of the Retreat. As a veteran Fellow, I want to be sure to provide an outlet for locally-based Fellows to continue to grow their network and come together. 

Because of the Segal Program, I've been able to meet people in different places in life and their careers and connect over our shared passion for citizen leadership. Attending the Retreat each year after a new cohort joins always invigorates me. What I value the most in my eight years as a Fellow is my interactions with people. Each new person I meet is a new opportunity to see how the Program has changed over the years and gives me insight as to how citizen leadership and social change are present in the Program currently. I hope that by continuing my involvement with the Program that I continue to grow and that I transfer the energy of those I meet to support my own endeavors.

Pictured Above: Marisa Lovaincy speaking in front of Fellows and the larger Segal Network at a 2019 Boston gathering.

 

February 2020 - Jordan Rothman (2008 Brandeis Fellow)

Jordan Rothman, Segal Fellow

February 2020 Fellow Spotlight: Jordan Rothman

Because of the Segal Program, I have stayed committed to the cause of citizen leadership throughout many phases of my life.

My goal is to write thought-provoking articles that express sentiments that many people possess but are afraid to express. I have worked towards this goal through my writing as a columnist and Morning Docket writer at Above the Law, a popular legal news website. Since starting to write for Above the Law in September of 2017, I have become one of the most popular columnists on the website, and my articles are regularly read tens of thousands of times a week. I also wish to assist under-served communities with my legal practice, in which I routinely accept pro bono and low bono matters. My articles have been quoted in the Journal of the American Bar Association, and I use this visibility to address serious social issues relating to housing and student debt.  Since starting my own firm, many of my columns have called out inequities and unfairness in the legal profession, which are often unsaid due to fear. I hope to continue giving power to people who may not be in a position to call out some issues that are experienced by people within the legal industry. Staying connected with the Segal program has energized me as I pursue my work as a lawyer and writer.

Currently, I am a Partner at The Rothman Law Firm LLC. I started my own law firm on March 1, 2019 and my brother Jared joined the firm on September 1, 2019. We are a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm that focuses on real estate matters, commercial issues, and personal injury cases, among many other practice areas.  The firm has seen enormous growth since it was founded a year ago, and even though I had zero clients when I first started the firm , we just opened our 150th matter. I am working toward expanding our client base and hopefully hiring associates sometime in the near future. I am also the founder of Student Debt Diaries (www.studentdebtdiaries.com), a student loan blog I started in August of 2017, describing how I paid off $197,282.90 in student debt.  I communicate daily with people across the country about student loans and the blog has regular readers in all 50 states and a few hundred countries and territories.  The blog provides practical advice on how to pay off student loans, and I have received great feedback from our readers. Knowing that to be a leader I need to elevate the voices of marginalized people, there are situations where I can use my expertise to help give someone in an oftentimes asymmetrical power dynamic a larger a voice when addressing issues in their lives.

Being a member of the Segal program has been extremely important to me in my life. For over twelve years, whenever I have been at a crossroads, I have been connected to my Segal family who can help me decide on the best path for my future and ensure that I am focused on promoting the goals of service and citizen leadership. It has been awesome seeing how the Segal program has changed over the last twelve years, as Fellows become more established in their careers and become mentors to new Fellows. At the beginning, founders and coaches served this role, but it has been fulfilling to take on this role more as I give back to the Program that gave so much to me.

 Jordan as a Student in 2008

January 2020 - Darius Caffey (2019 AmeriCorps Alums Fellow)

Darius Caffey, Segal Fellow

January 2020 Fellow Spotlight: Darius Caffey

“Because of the Segal Program, I am now a part of a network of folks that are fighting to make positive change within their communities. I was able to meet the founder of a program that has led me to a new chapter of my life. For those experiences and skills learned, I am grateful to be able to continue the work that I do.”

My inspirations come from those I have seen be faced with adversities, small and large, throughout their life, but who still find the motivation to keep going. It comes from those who always find a way to make things happen, no matter what cards they are dealt. Giving up or taking the easy route out is more possible for some than for others. For me, knowing that someone gets up everyday, no matter how much they have been through and seeing them continue to try harder for what they believe in is what keeps me going. Upon completion of my graduate program, my goal is to become an expert in the policy and non-profit realm, working towards increasing the number of minority students that pursue post-secondary education/certification. I plan on taking on a leadership role within a college access initiative program to increase my awareness, knowledge, and resources. Further down the line, I hope to become a nonprofit consultant to aid other organizations in long term success. In my current role as a graduate student and graduate assistant,  and now as a Segal Fellow, I have been given the opportunity to implement the skills that I am learning in my courses to add fundamental changes for the design of a large student-based program.

 

Currently, I am in graduate school pursuing my Master's in Public Affairs with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After serving for two years as an AmeriCorps College Advisor in a Kansas City public high school for the Missouri College Advising Corps, I decided to take a leap of faith and take my passion for education into a new area. Going into the policy area has been pretty new to me, since my background is in Psychology and Sociology. I am excited to join other experts and leaders in efforts to increase access for minority youth into post-secondary educational spaces. I also serve as the Graduate Research Assistant overseeing the Citizenship@Mizzou program for all 1st year and transfer students. This program introduces students to ways that they can serve as active citizens within their communities, as well as exposing them to different identity and resource events across campus. Last year I was able to expand my network at the 2019 Segal Fellow Retreat. There I got to share my experiences with like minded Fellows, who also have a passion for developing youth and making social justice a priority in their work. It was great that this was available to me so soon after entering the Program.

Being a part of the Segal Network has helped me refocus on my purpose within my work and the impact that I want to leave. Coming into the Segal family, I did not know what to expect but I instantly felt the connection meeting my first Fellow. Having a space for like minded individuals helped me to feel more comfortable in sharing my aspirations with others. I was able to bounce ideas off of others, while also learning from their experiences. Going from working full time to transitioning back into graduate school, I felt completely lost and, at times, like I didn't belong. The Segal Network reminded me of why I began my journey in the first place and helped make me proud of my accomplishments. Currently I am part of a Cohort of Fellows who, like me, have done national service and are dedicated to the core competencies of the Program. It is inspiring to be able to share my stories and hear similar hopes and challenges to a life of citizen leadership. In the future, I want to be able to give back what I learn and share my long term experience with new Fellows.

 Darius receiving the 2019 MSCS Award

December 2019 - Jaila Allen (2019 Brandeis Fellow)

Jaila Allen, Segal Fellow

December 2019 Fellow Spotlight: Jaila Allen

 “Because of the Segal Network, I am able to fully step into my complete self. I am able to connect with amazing people who are doing exceptional work.

In general, when looking at the healthcare system and health outcomes, it is important for me to ensure that all people, no matter socioeconomic status, race, gender, or any other personal identifiers, are obtaining the best and most cost-effective care possible. By doing this, I hope to decrease mortality rates of low-income people, people of color and gender minorities. One of my main goals this semester is to expand my global understanding of the world of public health and health care through course work, field studies and volunteer work with local health care providers. During my time abroad in Denmark, I am pushing myself to step outside of what is expected and go above and beyond. I hope to be able to work with general practitioners as a way to be able to better understand how the Danish idea of universal health care is implemented and ways to bring about some of these practices back to the states. Ultimately, I am striving to be the global citizen leader that The Segal Program thought me to be.

I am currently studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. My studies include classes like Health Delivery and Prioritization, Gender and Sexuality in Scandinavia, Epidemiology: A Danish Case Study, Gendered Perspectives on Human Rights, and Danish Language and Culture. As a current junior, I am still working towards my Bachelor's degree at Brandeis in Health: Science, Society and Policy and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Studying and living abroad have been integral components of furthering my education around healthcare and how different healthcare systems function. Not only have I been able to expand my learning on a global context, but also living in Copenhagen and traveling to other European countries has pushed me to expand my understanding of the world outside of an American context. I now fully understand how harmful an ethnocentric view of the world can be; because of this, I am working on understanding the complexities of other countries and cultures, which allows me to better understand their healthcare systems. I see my time abroad as an extension of my Segal Summer Internship with The Door, Inc. in New York City, where I worked on increasing access to healthcare resources for underserved communities and to expand the voice of queer adolescents of color. Through my efforts, I was able to increase LGBTQ youth’s interaction with and feedback through The Door’s online portal, which empowers underserved youth to access resources that meet their needs.

Being a part of the Segal Network has afforded me with the tools that I needed to be able to fully advocate for myself, while also surrounding me with people who motivate me to be the active change I want to see in the world. Throughout my experiences within my internship and semester abroad, I have used my citizen leader trainings and lessons to properly navigate challenges and opportunities that may come up in my new career. I also was able to meet many other Fellows from the Network this November during the bi-annual Segal Fellow Retreat, which reaffirmed the many ways one can be a citizen leader. The Segal Program has not only provided me with the tools and resources to do be a citizen leader, but has also pushed me outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to self-reflect on ways to improve myself and the world around me. 

 Jaila Allen in Denmark

November 2019 - Stephen Larbi (2013 City Year Fellow)

Stephen Larbi

November 2019 Fellow Spotlight: Stephen Larbi

“Because of the Segal Network, I am stronger in my conviction that I can make a positive impact in this world. I know I can, and I will, because I have an extended family in the Segal Network that I can count on to support and challenge me.”

In June 2019, I had the honor of speaking at Charles E. Shea’s High School’s graduation commencement. I was chosen to speak on behalf of the Pawtucket School Committee as an elected official and Shea High Alumni. I told the Shea graduates and their families in attendance that I never envisioned being there on that stage. Now here I am, as a public school graduate that was raised off of Main Street in Pawtucket to an immigrant father from Ghana and a mother that grew up in a development house in the Southside of Providence. I stood there on that stage proud of all that I’ve accomplished, proud to show those graduates that people like us can become successful in our state, country, and world. My ultimate goal in life is to make a positive impact in this world, and I believe I can do so by empowering others but, more specifically, our youth.

I work at a middle school in Providence, RI, as a School Culture Coordinator. My role was created to find ways to bring non-traditional educators into school leadership positions to help bridge the gap between our communities and schools. It has been a challenging role, but everyday I’m reminded of how important it is for our students to have adults in the building that they can see themselves in. In addition to my work in Providence, I am the Director of the Pawtucket Youth Commission and the President of Brothers On a New Direction (B.O.N.D) Professional Chapter. I consider myself a youth advocate because, in all my roles, I use my voice and access to power to advocate and bring attention to issues that affect our youth and their families. Recently at the Segal Fellow Retreat, I received the inaugural Segal Fellow in Action Award, and I was able to share my poetry and words of inspiration to newer and veteran Fellows.

Being a part of the Segal Network has helped me find power in my voice. Despite making some ground in my field early in my professional career, I couldn’t imagine being in the position that I’m in today had it not been for the Segal Program.  Joining a network filled with established leaders and like-minded peers helped me realize how much I do have to offer this world. Each time I engage someone from this Network, whether it’s a founder or a fellow, I feel a sense of rejuvenation.  Because of the Segal Network, I am stronger in my conviction that I can make a positive impact in this world. I know I can, and I will, because I have an extended family in the Segal Network that I can count on to support and challenge me.

Segal Fellow and Fellow in Action Award Recipient Stephen Larbi laughing as he receives award from Segal Program with Fellow LaShawn Simmons

 

October 2019 - Angelina Hwang (2019 Brandeis Fellow)

Angie Hwang

October 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Angelina Hwang

“Because of the Segal Program, I now believe that I am a citizen leader capable of great, positive change, and because of my summer internship, I know that I do belong in the field that I am passionate about.”

I have always loved working with children because they say the "darnedest" things. For example, my two sisters, who are my everything, say the wildest, most unpredictable statements which make me appreciate the value of listening and relating to others. I spend majority of my time with either them or students with disabilities, especially children with autism and down syndrome. Their behaviors often vary from day to day; however, I realize that it’s through my empathy and consideration to their challenges that I’m able to hopefully be an ally for them. Going to Brandeis, my focus was to bridge the equitable education gap for these students, since I believe education is empowerment. Through the Segal Fellowship, I interned this summer at The Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, which confirmed my commitment to continue working with individuals with disabilities. I decided to postpone taking the GRE and applying to graduate school until I discover which route to pursue to best advocate for students with disabilities, whether that may be through behavioral therapy, educational psychology, or educational policy.

I am finishing up my undergraduate adventures this December, a whole semester earlier than I expected to be done. It is terrifying not to know where I will be in a couple months, but I am confident about the future, as I remember that I have the support of the Segal Network and The Center. I will be graduating as a Psychology and Education Studies major with a minor in Legal Studies. This semester, I have the exciting opportunities to intern at the Office of the Child Advocate, an independent government agency ensuring that all state agencies provide quality services to all children in the Commonwealth, and to work with twins with autism.

Being a part of the Segal Network has been a true blessing. I found a community that is just as passionate about working for the common good as I am. Before connecting with my Segal Buddy and The Center, I had no one to talk to about the field I am passionate about, because I did not know anyone who had gone down similar paths as mine. I felt silly going on and on about my passions to people, because I did not know if they felt the same way I do about neurodiverse advocacy. Before my summer internship, I did not have a mentor that inspired me to continue working with individuals with disabilities, but now, I have amazing mentors- Jeanne Anne, Nick, Hazel, and Pedro at The Center- to look up to. Before our cohort meetings, I knew about citizen leadership but had never viewed myself as a citizen leader. I have occupied leadership positions since running for Vice President in 8th grade on a whim and being class president all throughout high school. However, I had always doubted my abilities to be a leader that actually facilitates meaningful change. The Segal Program has significantly transformed this mindset of mine.

 

 

September 2019 - Gabriela Fish (2012 City Year Fellow)

Gabriela Fish at schoolSeptember 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Gabriela Fish

“Because of the Segal Program, I am energized to keep moving forward in my journey as an entrepreneur for social change. I know I am not alone in this journey, but I have a family of like-minded and like-hearted individuals that are guided by our shared principles of equity, justice, and empathy.”

My goal is to amplify and empower the voices of youth in underserved and undervalued communities. The prevailing approaches to educating historically marginalized communities are insufficient, ineffective, and ignorant of the needs, beliefs, and values of the communities they operate in. In the current education ecosystem, students do not have a genuine seat at the table when it comes to designing better educational options. The curriculum I am in the process of creating (with input from students and at every iteration) will affirm young people as leaders, able to safely explore their identity, curiosities, and life vision alongside a supportive creative community.

In June of 2019, I completed my ninth year with DC Public Schools and left the classroom to pursue my Master’s Degree through the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Entrepreneurship program. Last school year, I co-piloted a Design Thinking Fellowship called  The Bridge, where students across the public school continuum united to design change in their community. Our design project centered on the gun violence that has been enveloping neighborhoods in Southeast, D.C. Through purposeful interviewing, students created an empathy map to organize their insights and define what an overarching need is for the community. While addressing the defined need, students then ideated solutions and prototyped their models (a variety of experiences, products, or services). Our young designers brought their original models to life at an event they called “The Community Reunion,” including a signature peace t-shirt, a healing circle, and even a space where respected older members of Ward 8 could converse with youth to discuss the issues of gun violence. One of the Segal Program’s core competencies is having visionary goals for social change. I take this strength with me as I develop relationships, build trust, and collaborate with multiple diverse communities. This month, while studying, I have been holding focus groups and gathering insights from community members, families, and youth about what it is they need and want from a curriculum that aims to empower them. I expect my venture will pivot and take shape in renewed forms throughout this season of inquiry, but I am excited to follow our students and families as they co-create this with me.

The Segal Network has been a constant source of inspiration since my induction in 2012. Whether I am following along with Stephen Larbi’s journey into becoming an elected official on his social media, or keeping [the late] Rhonda Shackleford-Ulmer's words of encouragement from years back still close to my heart, or being excited to reconnect and share dreams with Manu Fairley, Lila Givens, and others at this year’s retreat, the Segal Network to me represents a unified coalition of change-makers that fuels me with both joy and hope. Because of the Segal Program, I am energized to keep moving forward in my journey as an entrepreneur for social change. I know I am not alone in this journey, but I have a family of like-minded and like-hearted individuals that are guided by our shared principles of equity, justice, and empathy.

Gabriela Fish with class

August 2019 - Leah Shafer (2019 Heller/MPP Fellow)

Leah Shafer, Segal FellowAugust 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Leah Shafer

“Because of the Segal Program, I had the opportunity to work in the Mayor's Office this summer, doing meaningful work and gaining in an area I'm passionate about!”

I've always loved being around young people, and I've been interested in education and youth development since I served with City Year, right after college. It took me a little while after that, though, to figure out what areas I wanted to focus on and what types of skills I needed to make the biggest impact. What I landed on was working on my Master of Public Policy and MBA at Brandeis, with a focus on child, youth, and family policy. I've done a lot of work in the last year with college and career pathways students, including working with first-generation students at Brandeis, helping them get acclimated with the ins and outs of a four-year college and tutoring them on their writing. I've completed several class projects on policies and programs that help nontraditional students, such as parents or low-income students, successfully persist in college. This summer, I got to work on a youth summer jobs program that gives Boston Public School students a well-paying internship in expanding, lucrative fields.

I just finished up my summer internship at the Economic Mobility Lab in the Mayor's Office in Boston. My main job there was work on a youth summer jobs program that gives BPS students a well-paying internship in expanding, lucrative fields. I designed an evaluation for the program, surveying the students and interviewing the adults who made it happen. I also worked on planning professional development for the students, drawing on skills I'd learned at Heller for the past year. The internship sparked my interest in local government -- looking ahead, I'd love to stay involved in creating policies and programs that work on a city-wide level. Before the fall semester starts though, I'm trying to remember to relax a little and go out for ice cream as much possible.

Being part of the Segal Network has introduced me to so many opportunities, colleagues, mentors and internships. The Segal Network helped me secure my internship this summer, which was an invaluable professional experience! It's also introduced me to so many talented, passionate people at various stages in their careers. My conversations with my buddy have helped me think strategically about how I can get the most out of my remaining time at Heller. Hearing from older fellows has helped me think more about what type of work I'm interested in after grad school. Talking to all of these people has made me realize that I don't need to limit myself -- it's okay to dream big and act big!

Segal Fellows Pem Brown, Leila Quinn, John Valinch, and Leah Shafer

July 2019 - Tia Renier (2019 CNCS Fellow)

Tia RenierJuly 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Tia Renier

“Because of the Segal Program, I learned new ways to change the world and met the people who will make change happen.”

Being a part of the Segal Network inspires me. On more than one occasion I’ve second-guessed whether I deserve a seat at this table. Not because I doubt myself and my aspirations, but because everyone around me is so remarkable. I’m always blown away when I get on a Segal cohort call or connect with other Fellows and hear about their work. Segal Fellows are driven yet humble. It’s a real treat to have a community focused on thoughtful conversation and progress.

Coming into this fellowship caused a shift in perspective for me about what a career in service meant. Previously, I worked as a social worker in child welfare. I knew how important the job was but it can also be heartbreaking. Coming to CNCS opened my eyes to the positive impact that’s possible when coordinating efforts for a much larger group of people. I want to combine both of these experiences moving forward. I hear daily examples of AmeriCorps members and grantees as change-makers, and it makes me hopeful about the world. These are the people I want to work alongside. Still, I know there’s more to learn, and to better serve others as I want to go back for my Master’s eventually. Also, in true millennial fashion, work-life balance is important, so part of my career path involves getting back to my happy place, the Pacific Northwest.

I am over half-way through my Eli Segal Fellowship position at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which comprises the first year of my lifelong Segal Fellowship.  This role has been a tremendous opportunity to grow my career skills and learn how a federal agency functions. One of the best parts of my job is the variety of work that fills my calendar. On any given day I support a network of 600 employers looking to hire AmeriCorps alums, help unify the member experience, strategize updates to agency safety trainings or analyze and document the agency’s work related to the opioid crisis. One of the greatest opportunities I’ve had thus far came early in the fellowship. I chaired a subcommittee that reviewed training for members, volunteers and staff. Although I was the point person for our group, I learned so much from the leadership and work styles of each staff member in the group, and I represented our group in providing recommendations to senior leadership.

As I look forward to the second half of my time at CNCS, my attention will focus more on how to improve the member experience, to ensure all AmeriCorps members know the proud network they’ve joined. In addition, I’ll have another opportunity to round out my service skills by helping with grant application reviews. Having the Segal Network as a resource is immensely helpful as I transition into a slightly new career path with national service. I’ve already had several one-on-one calls and meetings with other Fellows or people invested in the program, giving me a springboard into my next chapter.

 Once you leave school, there isn't a ton of spaces where you intentionally come together with people from different backgrounds to dive into material and talk about topics like cultural competency, privilege or the history of a social movement. Segal cohort meetings provide the space for such discussion and building camaraderie. When I finally met the other fellows in my cohort we instantly had a bond because of the time spent together in these convenings.

Tia Renier in DC with fellow AC Alum