Sorensen Fellows prepare for summer projects

Sorensen Fellows prepare for summer projects

February 27, 2015

Awarded the prestigious Sorensen Fellowship, eight undergraduate students will soon be preparing to embark on summer internship experiences located across the globe, from New York to Ethiopia. The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, which sponsors the program, announced Bezaye Toshome ’16, Bethlehem Seifu Belaineh ’16, Tove Freeman ’16, Shaoleen Khaled ’16, Anni Long ’16, Ariella Assouline ’17, Regina Roberg ’17 and Wilkins Lugo ’17 as the 2015 Sorensen Fellows.

Named in honor of the late Theodore Sorensen, founding chair of the Ethics Center’s International Advisory Board and former advisor to President John F. Kennedy, the Sorensen Fellowship equips rising juniors and seniors with the opportunity to intern at organizations promoting social justice across the globe by covering internship-related expenses, including travel and living costs. Thanks to the generous donation of the late Theodore Sorensen’s wife, Gillian, for the first time Fellows may be eligible for the need-based Summer Earnings Replacement Grant as well.

Toshome, majoring in neuroscience and biology with a minor in anthropology, will be returning to her hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to intern with the Nia Foundation, a non-profit organization which seeks to empower those with developmental disorders. Fascinated by the field of developmental neurobiology, Toshome reveals the personal ties that first sparked her desire to work with children with special needs.

Watching as her family struggled to help her cousin, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, Toshome explained, “Having grown up in a culture where developmental disorders are largely attributed to supernatural causes, I witnessed the lack of treatment and rehabilitation services for children with special needs in Ethiopia.”

During the course of her internship, Toshome will be participating in speech therapy and social skills trainings as well as workshops designed to equip parents with techniques to enhance their child’s communication and social skills. She will also be collaborating with professionals in the field of special needs education to plan activities for children at the Nia Care Center.

“My ultimate goal is to become a neurosurgeon and possibly work on developmental neurobiology projects to get a better understanding of disorders that affect the lives of millions of children,” Toshome stated.

Like Toshome, Khaled is equipped with a passion for advocating on behalf of others. As a double major in HSSP and biology with minors in chemistry and politics, Khaled will be completing her internship at the California Women’s Law Center in Los Angeles, California. Khaled vividly recalls the moment she first discovered she had been selected to be a 2015 Sorensen Fellow. Sitting on the commuter rail listening to the song “Brave Enough” by Ernie, Khaled had been staring  anxiously as she waited for an email from the Ethics Center to load. Upon seeing the word “Congratulations,” she immediately called her father to share in her excitement.“After a brief moment, I lose cell service and the stranger sitting across from me on the train looks up from his newspaper and says, ‘Congratulations, I wish you luck in making great changes to the world,’” Khaled recalled.

Tracing her passion for women’s health and reproductive rights, Khaled shared her experience serving as an intern at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York at the mere age of 16, where she had the opportunity to speak with women of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Inspired by her interactions with these women, Khaled stated, “Hearing their accounts led me to conclude that the current policies surrounding women’s health and reproductive rights did not benefit a single person—it only hurt them. This is when I realized that the health care and political system that we once trusted to feel safe and healthy is now filled with apprehension.”

With plans to become an obstetrician-gynecologist, Khaled nevertheless seeks to intertwine her strong background in the sciences with a future in public health, policymaking, education and community outreach.

Long, a triple major in IGS, anthropology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Peace, Conflict and Coexistence, will be traveling to Beijing to intern for the non-profit organization Media Monitor for Women Network. She said that she will be promoting women’s rights in the media and hopes to launch lectures for local middle school children focusing on topics such as gender, privilege and respect.

Originally from Shanghai and Tianjin herself, Long strives to learn more about feminism in China and ways to foster positive social change in the country as well.

Regardless of their discipline or field of choice, in the words of Teshome, this internship would be a “wonderful stepping stone in getting a hands-on experience” while simultaneously pursuing social justice at an international scope.

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