Three Harvard upperclass students will receive cash awards for public service internships they intend to pursue in the near future. The $750 award, sponsored by the J.W. Saxe Memorial Fund, is meant "to enable students to gain practical experience in public service by taking a no-pay or low-pay job or internship during a summer or other term," according to a fund press release.
Erica D. Coleman '95, Sonia P. Lal '97 and Maria Rogahn '96 are among this year's nine recipients.
Coleman said she won her award for developing ACCESS, a project which "offers a big buddy to help you with the college application process."
The project "focuses on minority students in urban city high schools," she said. After running a pilot program in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Coleman is now introducing ACCESS to her alma mater, J.F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx.
Coleman said she was inspired to pursue her project after several high school seniors expressed doubts about the practicality of their education.
Coleman hopes to expand her program to 10th and 11th graders in order to raise awareness about community issues and to enable students to "contribute to [their] communities and solve problems important to them."
Lal received her award for her community service in Appalachia, where she worked as a youth counselor and helped develop a program for the elderly.
Rogahn, after volunteering extensively to direct University Lutheran and St. James Transitional Homeless Shelters in Cambridge, will take a year off to work in a Habitat for Humanity project in Ghana.
The J.W. Saxe Memorial Fund was established in memory of Jo W. Saxe, "who believed deeply in the need for persons of integrity to serve their countries and communities through public service."
After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Saxe completed his B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania and began work in Paris for the Marshall Plan.
Saxe also served as U.N. advisor to the Prime Minister of Togo, was associated with Harvard's Center for International Affairs and worked in various capacities for the U.S. government.
At the time of his death in 1982, 57-year-old Saxe was chief of the international finance division of the World Bank.
Recipients echoed Saxe's commitment to public service. "Ever since I came to Harvard, [community service] has been part of my life," Coleman said.
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