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Current Scholars


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2020

Matthew Avalon - Class of 2020

Matt developed a passion for helping others, specifically children, obtain a well-rounded education when he saw the lack of education in his own community.

Adriana Calderon - Class of 2020

Adriana had many opportunities throughout high school to discover and foster her passion for service through different projects addressing important realities in Costa Rica, such as the challenges of wildlife protection, educational equality, and social inclusion.

Leah Field - Class of 2020

Leah's commitment to social justice and community service started at an early age. When she was 12, she volunteered at Camp Haverim, a summer camp for autistic children. This experience and her relationship with her special needs siblings inspired her to pursue social justice for those with different abilities.

Mary Hanna - Class of 2020

Growing up in Nashville in an immigrant household, Mary noticed the difficulties experienced by refugees and immigrants upon their arrival in the United States. After being introduced to the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE), she was filled with a desire to help. At NICE, Mary teaches weekly classes to refugee and immigrant students who are preparing to take the United States Naturalization exam. Her teaching responsibilities include the areas of reading, writing, and citizenship questions. Through her volunteer efforts and the tremendous diversity found in Nashville, Mary has met people from all parts of the world. Her work, however, goes beyond the classroom. Mary helps to collect needed items (coats, shoes, school supplies, etc.) and distributes them to newly arrived refugees. She assists in organizing NICE's annual Refugee Christmas Party, an event from which no child leaves empty-handed.

Charles Kotrba - Class of 2020

Living in the city of Chicago, Charles was exposed to a number of injustices. Throughout high school, Charles spearheaded multiple service initiatives to address widening educational disparities based on race. He also organized students to advocate for more school funding in Chicago. He engages in community service to find solutions to critical issues relating to race, education, and socioeconomic status.

Francisco (Pancho) Mackin-Plankey - Class of 2020

Growing up in Texas, Pancho has always been aware of the plight of his Latino/a neighbors. Through service with a local nonprofit that serves to empower the local documented and undocumented community, Pancho co-taught citizenship classes for green card holders and helped "Dreamers" adjust their immigration status via DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). While empowering others, Pancho, himself, grew up. He strives to continue his service to others in the next part of his life.

Catie O'Reilly - Class of 2020

Catie's interest in community service and outreach blossomed in high school from her dedication to an organization entitled Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. In her hometown of New Orleans, many public school teachers still have difficulty finding affordable and livable housing since Hurricane Katrina. Catie's desire to give back to her teachers through rebuilding houses and fundraising led her to becoming her chapter's President. Her passion for her diverse community has led her to continue service throughout her life, and she knows this will mature even more in Nashville.

Aidan Pace - Class of 2020

Few people have the unique experience of being homeschooled in a family of seven children, and even fewer are fortunate enough to be born the eldest child of such a magnificent family. Aidan is one such person. His position growing up in a faith-filled family and as a first child was the impetus for his involvement in community service, for it enhanced his understanding of how to effectively interact with children. Furthermore, it inspired him with a passion to help give other, less privileged, children the childhood experiences he and his siblings enjoyed. In pursuit of this goal, he strives to be a positive force in the lives of disadvantaged children.

Jonathan Trapani - Class of 2020

At the age of ten, Jonathan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. While battling this disease he became exposed to the healthcare systems and treatment protocols at the University of Chicago. Actively participating and working with his medical team, Jonathan became inspired and developed a passion for the biological sciences within the clinical and research areas of the medical field. In addition, his six year struggle with cancer provided him with the empathy and motivation to give back and help other children with serious health issues and physical disabilities.

2019

Lizzie Carsello - Class of 2019

Lizzie began her service by utilizing her passions, especially art. In the summer before her freshman year of high school, Lizzie, her brother, and two cousins started a service project called Share the Gift that brings music and art to the elderly, disadvantaged, and disabled of her local community. Through this project, Lizzie helped create shows that would connect different groups of people. Her favorite shows were at the ARC of Broward, a center for mentally disabled adults, in which she connected with the audience (which included her cousin who has Down Syndrome) as they participated in songs and truly appreciated the artwork. Share the Gift sparked Lizzie's love for service and her passion to continue to help marginalized groups in the future.

Sammy Cousino - Class of 2019

Growing up in the city of Chicago, Sammy witnessed inequality firsthand. She saw the disparity among different neighborhoods of her hometown and the schools within them. The injustices Sammy saw within the bounds of the third largest city in the United States prompted her to study various social justice issues and act on them.

Subhash Gutti - Class of 2019

Subhash's passion for service began as an outgrowth from his interest in the field of healthcare. Fascinated by the sciences since childhood, he quickly took opportunities to explore his interest - through academic team competitions, science fairs, and eventually delving straight into the realm of healthcare by serving as a teen volunteer with a local hospital.

Kelly Hunt - Class of 2019

Throughout her high school career, Kelly was involved in a variety of extracurricular/academic activities, but her most life-altering experiences have been the community service projects that have sculpted her servant's heart. Since entering college at Vanderbilt University, she has joined a variety of clubs that have only exemplified the reasons she began to serve while continuing to teach her new outlets of community service.

Robert Lee - Class of 2019

Robert Lee arrived in Scarsdale, New York from his home in Memphis for his junior and senior years in high school as a member of the Scarsdale Transfer Education Program (STEP). Knowing no one, and being really far away from his friends and family, he was inspired to take advantage of every opportunity to become involved in his new Scarsdale High School community. He joined a variety of clubs that served the less fortunate, including Midnight Run, Global Camps for Africa, Habitat for Humanity, Hawthorne Cedar Knolls, and became a member of the Youth Actions Committee at his local church. Connecting to people in need was the catalyst for a rather quick assimilation in an unfamiliar environment.

Camille Powers - Class of 2019

In high school, motivated by a strong desire to serve, Camille actively participated in the South Texas community, energized primarily by her summer camp experiences working with people who have disabilities and her experience working with people who are homeless at a San Antonio soup kitchen.

Kyle Schwartz - Class of 2019

Diagnosed with autism at age three, Kyle began occupational therapy and social guidance early in his childhood. Years later, at the beginning of high school, Kyle decided to thank those who helped along the way by giving back to the community though volunteer work.

Priya Trivedi - Class of 2019

Attending a high school that placed heavy emphasis on service learning, Priya began exploring service and what it meant to her at an early age. With so many exciting opportunities to get involved with, she became interested in youth empowerment and leadership development, advocacy and rehabilitation for those with disabilities, and women's rights and gender equity. Through all of her service efforts, she learned the important of cultural competency and genuine relationship building, which she now uses to drive all of her service efforts.

Haydon Tucker - Class of 2019

Haydon has cultivated a love for service to others since childhood, but this love began to manifest itself with more direction as she began working with her school’s community service program in the ninth grade. Following that day, she spent every weekday afternoon tutoring elementary school students in the low-income west side of Chattanooga. Through this experience, Haydon gained countless friends, a passion for social and educational justice and for the inner city, and a new appreciation for the empowering nature of education and literacy, a principle that guided many of her future service endeavors.

Meredith Waites - Class of 2019

MMeredith found her passion for helping others in high school when she began working with underprivileged children through local churches and the public school system to promote education equality.

Vivian Wanjohi - Class of 2019

Vivian's motivations to serve have always been greatly influenced by the fact that she grew up in a small rural town in Kenya where serving those close to you was often the cultural norm. She had mostly worked with children's homes and organizations that sought to provide equal opportunities and mentorship to children and teenagers who had either lost their parents to HIV/AIDS or who had been rescued from harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and early marriages. As she joined Vanderbilt and consequently transitioned into an American society, she had to rethink her motivations to serve and figure out where her strengths lay since she was now in a different society that did not share the social problems or strengths of her community back home.

2018

Hytham Al-Hindi - Class of 2018

Hytham's passion for community engagement began to flourish during high school, when he founded his school's Habitat for Humanity chapter and served as the Student Activist Coordinator for Amnesty International in the states of Arkansas and Mississippi.

Christopher Chew - Class of 2018

Due to his involvement in his high school youth group, Chris developed a strong interest in community engagement early on. After his sophomore and junior years in high school, Chris was blessed with the opportunity to travel to San Raimundo, Guatemala with the organization, Casas por Cristos. There he built two houses for the local villages while distributing Bibles throughout the communities. In addition to these mission trips, Chris also served with YoungLife Capernaum at his church. At Capernaum, Chris was in charge of teaching Bible Studies to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Chris continues to volunteer at Capernaum monthly and serves as a camp counselor for a weeklong summer camp at a local YoungLife retreat. Chris's time serving the students at YoungLife Capernaum has motivated him to become a physician so that he can serve those with physical disabilities.

Alexis Cook - Class of 2018

After serving as a Sunday school teacher and volunteer at the local jail while in high school, Alexis decided to defer college and instead embark on the KIVU Gap Year to learn more about God, herself, and others through service and travel. Over the course of 8 months, she lived in 5 countries with an internship in each for a total of over 900 internship hours. In Denver, Alexis worked as a Spanish translator at a non-profit specializing in legal action against domestic abuse. In Haiti, Alexis worked with an organization that aids local schools and orphanages. Staying with a host family in Rwanda, Alexis interned at a coffee production company and became more interested in microfinance and economics. Again staying with a host family, Alexis next moved to Jordan where she interned at a nonprofit for women's empowerment. Finally, in the Philippines, Alexis worked with the "poorest of the poor" by helping teach programs about health, religion, and livelihood in a community context.

Marc Fleming - Class of 2018

Marc's passion for service began years ago when he was a Cub Scout. His growth and development through scouting, along with the strong, positive morals instilled into his life by his parents, manifested into a strong sense of social responsibility. Marc has found numerous opportunities to serve the community on campus, mostly centered around his interests of empowering African American youth and protecting the environment.

Sophie Goddyn - Class of 2018

Sophie’s passion for social justice began in the third grade, writing math problems for the boy who sat next to her in class. He had Down syndrome, and he became one of her closest friends. With the help of her new friend and his family, Sophie began her service endeavors volunteering her first of six years at Bike First!, a camp in which she taught children with disabilities how to ride two-wheel bikes. This program fostered her passion for advocating for those with disabilities.

Naeha Haridasa - Class of 2018

After spending ten years at Chinmaya Mission (Hindu Sunday school) with the motto "Give more than what you take", Naeha began to develop a passion for social service.

Josiah Holland - Class of 2018

Since moving as a 5th grader to the United States from Togo, Africa, Josiah has made a priority of engaging his local community through service and the building of relationships. In high school, Josiah worked through student council to organize community events and fundraisers benefitting local and national charities. Josiah also served with his church community by teaching children's classes and spent the entire summer of 2014 as a youth camp counselor. Additionally, through his church, Josiah discovered multiple opportunities to build relationships with the homeless of downtown Fort Worth, Texas, through Beautiful Feet Ministries and the Feed by Grace program at Unity Park.

Catherine Jackson - Class of 2018

With a family history of serving the community, Catherine began volunteering at a young age. Through her church and youth group, Catherine explored service opportunities in her community and attended yearly mission trips. At the beginning of high school, she discovered her passion for serving others while volunteering with a local homeless shelter - Room In the Inn. Since then, Catherine has pursued various opportunities to serve in her community through campus organizations, her sorority, and non-profits in Nashville, TN.

Kyuhoon Kim - Class of 2018

Kyuhoon spent his first and second years at Vanderbilt working on community issues, poverty alleviation, and cultural engagement. His service during the first year included organizing volunteering sessions at Nashville Chinese School, advocating for North Korean human rights, and volunteering at the homeless shelter Room in the Inn.

Lauren McCabe - Class of 2018

Over her first two years at Vanderbilt, Lauren has grown down a path of service that has become more and more refined, eventually combining with her academic path. At the start of her freshmen year, she began generally with her interest in children's issues as stemmed from her work in high school. She did this through an after-school tutoring program for immigrants where she was able to use her Spanish, as well as taught piano lessons at the local non-profit W.O. Smith Music School. Lauren also joined Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She was paired with a little brother who she sees weekly to this day. Lauren served with other issue-based organizations as well, but always came back to the more education-based forms of service.

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