Four Seniors Win Public Service Grants
Instead of following the swarms of investment bankers and the hordes headed to law school, four seniors will participate in community service projects next year with the help of Stride Rite Foundation Post-Graduate Public Service grants.
Nerys C. Benfield '99, Tara B. Purohit '99, Mariko L. Ryono '99 and William S. Triant '99 will receive between $10,000 and $25,000 dollars to aid their yearlong service projects.
Stride Rite Community Service Program Director Mimi L. Lindsey said the shoe manufacturer donates funds to Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) to sponsor three work-study programs--one during the academic terms, one during the summer and the post-graduate program.
"I think it's nice that there's encouragement to do public service at Harvard," Lindsey said. "People can get their feet wet."
The selection committee looks for student proposals that will endure beyond the yearlong grant. In that capacity, two of the recipients are expanding current programs and two are working with existing organizations.
Ryono will be traveling to Costa Rica to work with the Andar Foundation, which assists rural women in developing their communities and improving their water systems and economic development.
"I had the idea [that] I wanted to go abroad and do some community service outside of Boston," she said. "I'm really excited to challenge my ideas about community service work."
Her involvement in PBHA's Franklin After-School Enrichment Program as well as work with women starting businesses makes her upcoming project the next logical step, Ryono said.
Other recipients have also worked with PBHA during their Harvard years.
Triant will be taking the organization he has participated in during his four years at Harvard, the College-High School Alliance/Nexus for Creative Education (CHANCE) mentoring program, to other Boston colleges and high schools.
"I've put a lot of time into it and we're looking forward to bringing it to other schools," he said.
Triant said he applied for six separate grants to fund his proposal.
Both Benfield and Purohit will go to New York. Benfield will work with formerly homeless children to develop new mentoring and after-school programs at local schools.
Purohit plans to start an organizational and financial structure for a New York branch of Harvard's Project H.E.A.L.T.H., which advances health care for inner-city families by connecting universities, hospitals and the community.
The Stride Rite foundation has supported students' post-graduate service projects since 1983. This year, between 20 and 25 students applied for the grants, Lindsey said.