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Current Recipients


2015 Nichols Humanitarian Fund Recipients

Thirty-six students have been selected to receive the Nichols Humanitarian Fund Award to pursue humanitarian projects during the summer of 2015. The award will enable students to work with communities on humanitarian efforts including human rights, public health, immigrant rights, early childhood education, microfinance, and environmental sustainability. The average GPA of the student recipients is 3.5 and the countries where they will work include the United States, South Africa, Vanatu, Morocco, Thailand, Guyana, Ecuador, Russia, India, Nepal, and England.

Rhiana M. Anthony | Houston, TX, MEd. in Community Development & Action

Rhiana Anthony is a 2nd year Masters student in the Community Development and Action program at Peabody College. She is a Houston, TX native and has a background in psychology with a focus in human development and family studies. Her research interests include mental health disparity and wellness in the protestant Black church communities. In this context, she is interested in working to deconstruct stigma around help-seeking, communal and spiritual healing practices, and creating community collaborations/partnerships with service providers. This summer she will be doing a service project in Johannesburg, South Africa under the direction of Naomi Tutu.

Daria Jane Berstell | New York, NY, Public Policy, 2018

Daria is from New York, NY and is a member of the class of 2018; she is currently planning a major in Public Policy Studies with a minor in History. Her project is in Vladimir, Russia and is focused on doing service in Vladimir and cultural immersion. The service will be largely focused on working with the children of the area.


Logan Brown | Lawrence, KS, Computer Science, 2018

Logan Brown is a freshman from Lawrence, Kansas. She is majoring in Computer Science and plans to attend law school. She hopes to work in the Solicitor General’s office. Logan will be travelling to London to help address community health issues in impoverished areas. Logan plans to use the experience and knowledge gained abroad back in the United States to help others.


Eli L. Byerly-Duke | Columbia, MO, Political Science & Mathematics, 2018

I was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, although I am now a first year student in the college of Arts and Sciences pursuing a double major in Political Science and Mathematics. I aim to go to Quito, Ecuador through Vanderbilt’s Office of Active Citizenship and Service, where I will work with a local organization, Yanapuma, on reforestation and environmental issues.


Jaqueline Cox | St. Louis, MO, Economics/Political Science, 2018

Jacqueline Cox is a member of the class of 2018 from St.Louis, MO. She intends to major in Economics and/or Political Science. This summer, she will be participating in the OACS Global Service Immersion Program in South Africa. There, she will be working in care centers in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Her work will include assisting with homeless outreach, school facilities, and home based health care. The goal of the program is to provide care, support, and improve the lives of those living in the communities.

Riley Dankovich | Royal Oak, MI, English & Russian and Women’s & Gender Studies, 2018

My name is Riley Dankovich, and I am from Royal Oak, MI. I am currently a first year, and I plan to double major in English and Russian, and minor in Women’s & Gender Studies. This summer, I will be going to Russia for five weeks as part of the VISAGE program, which is a service-learning trip. I will be both studying Russian language and culture, and working in an orphanage, a center for at-risk youth, and a humanitarian aid store.

Sarah Doner | Lawrenceville, GA, Human & Organizational Development, 2018

Sarah Doner is from Lawrenceville, GA and is a proud member of the Class of 2018 at Vanderbilt. She plans to major in Human and Organizational Development, pursuing the International track of study. She will be participating in Vanderbilt’s VISAGE program, travelling to Vladimir, Russia for four weeks this summer. In addition to earning three credit hours, students will volunteer with several non-profit organizations based in Vladimir, mainly working with the Vladimir Youth Health and Education Center to help at-risk children and teenagers living in the area.

Banita Giri | Kathmandu, Nepal, Chemistry, 2015

I will be teaching at Shanti Bhavan, a boarding school near Bangladore, India,  that provides a holistic education to poor dalit (untouchable) children to allow them to break out of the cycle of poverty and gain opportunities for their future.



Safiah Hassan | Murray, Kentucky, Medicine Health and Society and Spanish, 2016

I will be going to Morocco with the OACS office on a service program in partnership with the cross-cultural center for learning. We will be volunteering in healthcare offices, human rights offices, and in tutoring sessions to teach children English.



Emily M. Hebert | Lafayette, LA, Neuroscience with Cinematic & Media Arts, 2015

Emily Hebert is a senior from Lafayette, Louisiana majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Cinematic and Media Arts. She is a co-chair of Alternative Winter Break, which sends 12-person student groups on week-long service trips across the country each December. She also serves as volunteer coordinator for Project: BRIDGES, a student organization that pairs Vanderbilt students with refugees who have been resettled in Nashville to go over a health & wellness curriculum, English lessons, and specific issues with paperwork or culture shock. She spent a semester abroad in New Zealand, where she went sky diving, climbed to the top of a volcano, and learned about the history of New Zealand cinema. She is passionate about traveling, exploring the outdoors, science, cooking, movies, and public policy, particularly as it applies to the non-profit sector and to social enterprises. She will use the Nichols Humanitarian Fund award toward a global service trip in South Africa where she will engage with efforts toward community-building and volunteer at the Missionvale Care Center in Port Elizabeth.

Madeleine Elyse Hebert | Lafayette, LA, Neuroscience, Scientific Computing & Medicine, 2015

Madeleine Hebert is a senior from Lafayette, Louisiana studying Neuroscience with minors in Scientific Computing and Medicine, Health, and Society. She is participating in the OACS Global Service Project to Morocco, working with non-profits on issues of health care access and human rights in the diverse community of Rabat.



Charlotte How | Greenville, SC, Economics & Human and Organizational Development, 2016

I was born in Singapore, but grew up in the United States. When I’m not in Nashville, I live with my parents and younger sister in Greenville, South Carolina. I am a junior at Vanderbilt and am majoring in Economics and Human and Organizational Development. My project will take place in a small farming village 60 km north of Surin, Thailand. I will be helping a local NGO care for the villagers’ elephants, and will be helping establish a microbusiness, where farmers can sell paper made from their elephants’ dung to nearby cities.

Kristen Ingram | St. Louis, MO, Marketing & Communications, 2015

Kristen Ingram is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and currently a senior at Vanderbilt University, where she is studying Marketing & Communications while minoring in Spanish. As a recipient, Kristen looks forward to volunteering in local communities in both Port Elizabeth and Paarl, South Africa as a caretaker and peace-builder, while also learning about the culture and important history of the country. From her time spent in South Africa, Kristen hopes to gain a a greater understanding of social inequalities and different political and social systems, which she feels will equip her to become a better global citizen.

Brittney Jackson | Muskegon, MI, M.Ed Leadership & Organizational Performance

Brittney Jackson received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Purdue University. Originally from Muskegon, MI,  Brittney moved to Tennessee in early 2011 with a Fortune Top 200 company working in employee relations. At Vanderbilt she is a M.Ed. candidate in the Leadership and Organizational Performance program at Peabody with an anticipated graduation in May 2016. Brittney will be traveling to London, England and partnering with a local NGO focused on issues related to public health accessibility and quality for city residents.

Deron Johnson | Corbin, Kentucky, Vanderbilt Law 2016

Deron Johnson is a rising 3L at Vanderbilt Law School. He is originally from Corbin, Kentucky, and will be spending part of this summer interning with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. He is excited for this opportunity to return to his home in Eastern Kentucky to help provide legal services to those affected by the coal mining industry. He is interested in continuing to provide these legal services to those who desperately need them but may not be able to afford them throughout his career.

Marley Kern | Keller, TX, Special Education & Cognitive Studies, 2017

Through Vanderbilt’s Office of Active Citizenship and Service, I will be traveling to Quito, Ecuador, where I will be working alongside and for the citizens of Quito to provide much needed resources.  I look forward to working with the people of Quito and my fellow cohort members to create lasting memories while growing as a person.

Christine Lim | New York, NY, Human Organizational Development/Economics with Sociology & Managerial Studies, 2018

Christine Lim is a freshman at Vanderbilt University from New York City. She is currently undecided but she is interested in majoring in Human Organizational Development or Economics and minoring in Sociology and Managerial Studies. She is very ecstatic to travel to Morocco with Vanderbilt Office of Active Citizenship and Service and volunteer with various local NGO’s. Morocco is “a bridge between of the Mediterranean Sea” and with her team, she hopes to bridge the cultural gaps.

Conor M. McWade | Portland, OR, Masters in Public Health, 2017

I will use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology to map the last 5 years of orad traffic injuries (RTIs) in Georgetown, Guyana with the goal of identifying hot spots, patterns, and causes of urban RTIs in order to informing future preventive interventions. I will partner with a Guyanese MPH student, the Georgetown police department, and the main hospital in Georgetown to collect data and translate it into feasible multi-stakeholder intervention recommendations.

Melanie McWade | Lincolnshire, IL, Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D

I am from Lincolnshire, Illinois, a suburb just outside Chicago. I attended Vanderbilt for my undergraduate studies and have returned to complete a doctorate in biomedical engineering. I am currently a third year graduate student. This summer, I will be in Georgetown, Guyana helping the largest public hospital in the city address their problem of broken medical equipment. I will be creating a streamlined process for repair and troubleshooting of the broken medical equipment to lessen the burden of this problem.

Bianca Mgbemere | Nashville, TN, Medicine, Health & Society, 2016

My name is Bianca Mgbemere and was born and raised in Nashville, TN. I am currently a junior at Vanderbilt University where I major in Medicine, Health, and Society with a minor in Corporate Strategies. I will be going on the OACS Global Service Immersion Program in London where I will engage in service work and volunteering with various organizations in an attempt to better understand the culture and healthcare problems in Newham. I will work an internship level position addressing various types of healthcare needs, and help complete projects that work on developing community health and youth activism. It is an honor to receive this award.

Noemi A. Monnerville | French West Indies & Florida, Political Science and French & Communications, 2017

I have three love languages: adventure, culture, and history. Having grown up between the French West Indies and Florida, I have always had a magnetic attraction to all things exotic and diverse. As a second year political science major, I take special interest in the relationship between people and power structures. These two passions have driven me around the world, and I intend to circle the earth as many times as it takes to examine and experience it all. During this Global Service Immersion trip, I will work with Espace Associatif Rabat, an association that promotes the movement for democratic development in Morocco by providing tools for effective governance and helping local associations unify around a clear and strategic vision. Espace Associatif promotes citizen involvement in the political process, which is an increasingly relevant goal considering the repression that faces pro-democracy activists, and a cause toward which I am excited to labor.

Jennifer L. Neczypor | M.A. Midwifery & Family Practice

Jennifer Neczypor is a prespecialty, master’s-level nursing student currently studying midwifery and family practice at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. Originally from Sacramento, California, she majored in Spanish, philosophy, and screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles before accepting a Peace Corps position in the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu. For her project, she will be traveling back to Vanuatu to partner with local health practitioners to design and implement a series of “Healthy Mamas, Healthy Babies” workshops focusing on issues significant to the health of women and children in Vanuatu, including family planning, breastfeeding, malnutrition, teen pregnancy, sexual health, immunization, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Miss Neczypor is extremely grateful for the opportunity to facilitate these workshops, and looks forward to establishing sustainable, long-term relationships with Ni-Vanuatu health workers, thereby promoting quality maternal and pediatric healthcare on the islands. Her ultimate dream is to return to Vanuatu after graduating in order to set up birth centers and train local women in the art and science of midwifery.

Lauren Pak | La Mirada, CA, Human & Organizational Development, 2017

The Zulu word of greeting, Sawubona, meaning “we see you” can summarize what I hope to accomplish this summer under the OACS Global Service Immersion Program to South Africa.  True interpersonal understanding is key for cultural peace building and reconciliation, and I hope to learn and apply this knowledge within the communities of Port Elizabeth and Paarl, South Africa through active listening, engagement, and service.

Sydney Pedigo | Dallas TX, Medicine, Health & Society, 2017

I am a sophomore in Vanderbilt college of Arts and Science from Dallas, Texas, majoring in Medicine, Health, and Society as well as Philosophy. The project I am working on this summer aims to alleviate health problems in the London Borough of Newham through promotion of active living and health education. Partnering with local projects of a similar goal will allow increased impact on community development and youth activism in an area of London challenged with high poverty rates and increased childhood obesity.

Lee Perkins | Memphis, TN, M.A. Divinty

Lee S. Perkins came to Vanderbilt as undergraduate in fall 2008 from Memphis, TN, and majored in religious studies. After graduating in 2012, Lee continued his studies at the Divinity School pursuing a master of divinity. During spring 2015, Lee will travel to Nepal as a participant in Project Pyramid. Project Pyramid is a service learning program for graduate and professional students across the University to work collaboratively on a project with international non-profit organizations that encounter poverty first hand.

Alva Powell | Fayetteville, GA, Medicine, Health & Society, 2015

I plan on traveling to Morocco and working with various NGOs for the month of June. I will be helping address issues like women’s rights, education, and healthcare.



Justin Riele | Danville, CA, Neuroscience & Corporate Strategy, 2016

I will be spending my summer in Kathmandu, Nepal with the organization Volunteer Nepal. I will be assisting an the Nepal Orphans Home where I will be starting an independent music program for the children in addition to teaching english classes at the local school.

Paul Snider | Mandeville, Jamaica, Biology & English, 2016

I was born and raised in Mandeville, Jamaica, where my parents worked as missionaries for 30 years. I’m a junior studying in Biology and English and interested in journalism and scientific research. This summer I will be working in Port Shepstone, South Africa and the surrounding province of KwaZulu-Natal. We’ll be working along with high school students from around the world who have grown up outside of their parent cultures (TCKs) to provide sex education in local schools and seek to alleviate the AIDS epidemic.


Florence Ann Sobell | Lexington, MI, 2017

My name is Ann Sobell and I live in Lexington, Michigan. I am a sophomore at Vanderbilt majoring in Medicine, Health and Society with a minor in Russian Studies. Our project is centered in Vladimir Russia where we will be working with three organizations, the Vladimir Youth Health and Education Center, the Karl Liebknecht Orphanage, and the new Vladimir Humanitarian Aid Store. With these organizations we will be helping with maintenance projects, general upkeep and assistance and offering positive interaction with the children and adults in these organizations.

Samantha Strader | Bristol, TN, MEd. Human Development Counseling

Samantha Strader was born in Bristol, Tennessee.  She is currently a 2nd year Graduate Student in the program of Human Development Counseling and focuses on trauma work with families, fostering resiliency, and empowerment.  She has been selected for the OACS opportunity in London.  This project is a global immersion service learning project that will focus on various inner city needs in East London while encourage diversity awareness and cultural competencies that will be transferable to her continued work in Nashville.


Bryan Stromer | New York, NY, Human & Organizational Development, 2017

Bryan Stromer is a Sophomore from New York City who is majoring in Human and Organizational Development. He is looking forward to working on a variety of service projects in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and Paarl, South Africa through Vanderbilt University’s Office of Active Citizenship.


Isabela Uribe | Center Valley, PA, Economics, Political Science & Foreign Languages, 2017

Isabela Uribe is a sophomore from Center Valley, Pennsylvania who is currently studying economics, political science, and foreign languages. She will be participating in the Office of Active Citizenship and Service (OACS) Global Service Immersion Program in Rabat, Morocco this summer. An immigrant herself, Isabela will be working at the Foundation Orient-Occident, a foundation for migrant rights in Morocco that facilitates education, cultural integration, and professional development for Sub-Saharan immigrants.

Cynthia Vu | Quincy, MA, Elementary Education & Second Language Studies, 2018

I am originally from Quincy, Massachusetts.  I am in my freshman year at Vanderbilt University and am currently studying for a double major in Elementary Education and Second Language Studies and a minor in Russian.  The service projects I will be working on this summer on my trip to Russia will be located at the Vladimir Youth Health and Education Center and at the Humanitarian Aid Store, also located in Vladimir.  At both organizations, I will be interacting with Russian youth and community members, aiding in facility maintenance tasks, and distributing food supplies for those in need.

Nathan Walsh | Providence, RI Law 2016

Nathan Walsh is a rising third-year law student from Rhode Island. He is focused on pursuing a career in public interest law and will be spending part of his 2015 summer at the Commission for Human Rights in Providence combatting discrimination.



Samantha Williams | Nashville, TN, Law 2016

Samantha is a Nashville-native and graduated with an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Brown University. In addition to her studies at Brown, she studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany and participated in human rights programs to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda. Upon graduating Brown, she moved to Washington D.C. and worked for U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander as a Legislative Correspondent. For two years she worked with colleagues, constituents and other interested parties on the issues of healthcare, education, labor and pensions. In the future she hopes to pursue a legal career in international human rights and prosecuting war crimes. This summer she will be working with ABA Human Rights Center in Washington DC.

Devontae Willis | Boston, MA, Molecular & Cellular Biology, 2017

Davontae Willis is a sophomore Molecular and Cellular Biology student here at Vanderbilt.  While being raised in Boston, Massachusetts and Canal Winchester, Ohio, Davontae developed a love for humanitarian work and volunteering in general. He will be traveling to Montego Bay, Jamaica where he will assist children and adults who suffer from HIV/AIDS. In addition, Davontae will be conducting research on the social aspects of the condition and presenting his findings to nearby schools and local HIV services to help fight the stigmas associated with being HIV positive.