Sarah Averback
Former Scholar Reflection

CURRENT SCHOLARS

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ANKITA AHLUWALIA, UCR

Project Title: POWAN Supplemental Instruction Program: Empowering H.S. Students & Teachers

In June of 2020, a group of university students came together to create the POWAN (Power of Words and Numbers) Initiative in hopes of creating a more equitable future in education for K-12 students. POWAN began by providing one-on-one educational and mentorship support to K-12 students. During the pandemic, the POWAN Initiative team interviewed K-12 teachers. These teachers emphasized an urgent need for focused instruction models that empower students to develop stronger academic habits, crucial communication skills, and lifelong professional connections. In response to these interviews, the POWAN Initiative has developed the POWAN Supplemental Instruction (PSI) Program, a virtual after-school program designed to address the current gaps and problems in education. Through the instruction of our diverse and qualified POWAN Supplemental Instructors (PSIs), our collaborative group-based learning program aims to reduce teacher anxiety and promote student achievement. Over the course of the pilot program, our PSIs will spearhead online sessions where students can not only further engage in classroom material, but also become empowered to succeed in their academic journeys.

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NATALIE KING-SHAW, SDSU

Project Title: The A.M.A.N.I. Project

The A.M.A.N.I. Project- based on the five key tenets of Affirming, Mentoring, Actualizing, Nurturing, and Imagining a limitless future for young Black scholars- aims to provide racial identity development and academic and creative support to Black students attending predominately white elementary schools in San Diego through mentorship by Black students from SDSU. In the 2022-23 school year, participating elementary school students (A.M.A.N.I. scholars) will select an area of creative and academic interest to explore with their mentors during weekly one-on-ones, and will build emotional and communication skills while sharing their interests and experiences. During weekly cohort meetings, all A.M.A.N.I. scholars and mentors will come together to engage in group games, community building exercises, and lessons on Black history while building Amani (Swahili for peace and tranquility) in their multidimensional identities and experiences as Black students.

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HANNAH LEE. USC

Project Title: Remedy: The First Medication Storage System for People Experiencing Homelessness

Remedy is a social impact project dedicated to eliminating medication theft in patient populations experiencing homelessness. We are a team of 8 interdisciplinary USC and Duke students, all with a common goal of increasing health equity through innovation. We hope Remedy will not only prevent the theft and loss of medications for unhoused patients, but also serve other patient populations that have fine motor impairments and diabetes through our flexible pill container and insulated pouch, respectively.

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ANITA NGUYEN, UCSD

Project Title: Health Insurance Literacy Initiative

Health insurance literacy is crucial to affordable and effective healthcare decisions and outcomes, but studies consistently demonstrate low levels of health insurance literacy in Americans. The Health Insurance Literacy Initiative strives to improve health insurance literacy and assist patients in managing their medical bills by providing (1) education on basic health insurance terms and plan types, (2) counseling on how to choose a plan, (3) assistance in reviewing individuals’ own plan for comprehension, (4) free access to qualified health insurance advisors, (5) resources and contacts for further information, and (6) referrals to financial assistance programs/alternatives for medical costs not covered by insurance. A core project team of 18 UCSD students will lead this project. After completing an online health insurance basics course, this team will complete additional research in order to develop informative toolkits, educational presentations, and resources on health insurance terms and plan types. All resources and presentations will be reviewed by health insurance advisors, who are qualified professionals recruited to assist with the project. The core team is then responsible for planning and hosting 3 one-hour workshops for UCSD students, and 4 three-hour workshops for the general public. These workshops will provide presentations on the topics: "Health Insurance Basics," "What to Look for When Choosing a Plan," and "Financial Assistance/Alternatives for Medical Costs," followed by a "Bring Your Plan Q&A" segment. During this segment, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with qualified health insurance advisors who can help review their plans. At the workshop, student volunteers and advisors will also be available to answer any questions, help identify financial alternatives for medical costs not covered by insurance, and refer attendees to potential helpful resources.  

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TINOTENDA NYANDORO, STANFORD

Project Title: Preparing Generations of Students for Success, One Teacher at a Time

In the rural District of Mudzi in Zimbabwe, more than 70% of high school students do not attend post-secondary institutions. The educational disparities present in this district stem from students' limited access to resources that would expose them to post-secondary education options and financial-aid opportunities. My personal experience as a student from Mudzi inspired me to found Project Regenerate. Project Regenerate draws upon the collective experience of students, at prestigious institutions in the United States, to create and deliver a curriculum that will guide students in the Mudzi District as they navigate the college application process. This initiative will introduce the "Application Lab" which will train 30 high school teachers and prepare them to help more than 300 students complete their college applications. This Lab will be delivered through a weekly workshop and will foster conversation addressing the needs of the teachers and their students, while creating actionable steps to respond to those needs. The teachers will be the central focus of the majority of the efforts because I strongly believe that teachers are best positioned to inform the decisions of their students, thus increasing their chances of success. For this project, I have partnered with Project Access, a non-profit organization that works to combat unequal access to higher education for underserved communities, to successfully implement this program. This project will have a positive impact on generations of students as it does not merely acknowledge a community issue, but instead addresses and uproots the systemic injustices that disproportionately affect the students in the community.  

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GARRETT OMAN, UCB 

Project Title: Project Peacemeal 

Many households in the Alameda County Muslim community do not have a stable means of providing food 
for themselves and their families. This is particularly true for many who have recently arrived as 
refugees from unstable countries overseas. California has been one of the most popular resettlement 
locations  in previous decades and it ha become clear that a locally solution must come to 
adequately address the issue of food insecurity. The solution is Project Peacemeal. As an 
organization, we intend to end food insecurity in Muslim households at the local level. In the 
process, we intend to strengthen bonds between our school, local businesses, and the greater 
community.
The objective of our organization is the development of existing associations between local 
masjids, their direct food assistance programs, and local halal markets and restaurants. The 
gradual development of our organization is made i order to bolster the abilities of masjid 
assitance programs to help members of their congregation who are in need. By implementing ongoing 
fundraising efforts In the vicinity of Berkeley's campus, we intend to integrate direct food 
assistance programs into congregations that do not currently have them. In those masjids that 
already have direct foo assistance programs for members of their congregation, we intend to 
coordinate efforts as an organization to purchas food as those assistance programs dictate. When we 
purchase food, we will buy from suppliers who are culturally sensitive to the masjids and their 
congregations. We look towards purchasing in bulk from halal markets and restaurants that are large 
enough to cater the demand of the masjids, but also small enough to see a commerical boo from our 
orders.
By integrating student volunteers into our model as members of the board and as shoppers, we will 
incorporate the Berkeley student community into our effort. By pitching our project to different 
Muslim Student organizations and charities at universities across California we intend to alleviate 
the pressures of scaling fundraising efforts beyond our operational capabilities as we grow. Zones 
will be created to dictate where different chapters can operate. This unique approach to development 
and expansion will sustain the project's mission, but also allow students from other universities to 
create their own unique program which can specialize in responding to the needs of their specific 
area.

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ADIL RANIWALA, UCB

Project Title: Project Peacemeal

Many households in the Alameda County Muslim community do not have a stable means of providing food 
for themselves and their families. This is particularly true for many who have recently arrived as 
refugees from unstable countries overseas. California has been one of the most popular resettlement 
locations  in previous decades and it ha become clear that a locally solution must come to 
adaquately address the issue of food insecurity. The solution is Project Peacemeal. As an 
organization, we intend to end food insecurity in Muslim households at the local level. In the 
process, we intend to strenghten bonds between our school, local businesses, and the greater 
community.
The objective of our organization is the development of existing associations between local 
masjids, their direct food assistance programs, and local halal markets and restaurants. The 
gradual development of our organization is made i order to bolster the abilities of masjid 
assitance programs to help members of their congregation who are in need. By implementing ongoing 
fundraising efforts In the vicinity of Berkeley's campus, we intend to integrate direct food 
assistance programs into congregations that do not currently have them. In those masjids that 
already have direct foo assistance programs for members of their congregation, we intend to 
coordinate efforts as an organization to purchas food as those assistance programs dictate. When we 
purchase food, we will buy from suppliers who are culturally sensitive to the masjids and their 
congregations. We look towards purchasing in bulk from halal markets and restaurants that are large 
enough to cater the demand of the masjids, but also small enough to see a commerical boo from our 
orders.
By integrating student volunteers into our model as members of the board and as shoppers, we will 
incorporate the Berkeley student community into our effort. By pitching our project to different 
Muslim Student organizations and charities at universities across California we intend to alleviate 
the pressures of scaling fundraising efforts beyond our operational capabilities as we grow. Zones 
will be created to dictate where different chapters can operate. This unique approach to devlopment 
and expansion will sustain the project's mission, but also allow students from other universitie to 
create their own unique program which can specialize in responding to the needs of their specific 
area.

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PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, UCB

Project Title: Radio Union: Uplifting Farm Workers with Knowledge

Farmworkers have been exploited for many years. Additionally, the cycle of poverty that these workers face has prevented them from climbing up the economic ladder. However, we can suppress this by empowering farmworkers with information. My project will focus on sharing information with farmworkers through radio broadcasts. By partnering with radio stations, we will have a platform to share the information with the targeted audience. Using this method of communication is the most effective due to the long hours these workers work. The information we plan to share will be centered on Workers’ Rights, Legal Documentation Resources, Environmental Health, and Safety. This project will evolve as a public information service by targeting all workers and having translators for different languages. 

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THANIYA SHANKAR, UCR

Project Title: Project LEAD

To address the educational barriers that exist in the Kindergarten to 6th grade public school educational system for students with autism spectrum disorder, I propose the mentorship program Project LEAD (Learn, Encourage, Advocate, and Develop) to allow college students from University of California, Riverside to mentor elementary students on the spectrum in the San Bernardino City Unified School District, an under-resourced community. Students with autism display their own unique challenges that can benefit from individualized support. This program will not only promote a sense of community and belonging to autistic students, but also establish and strengthen academic and social skills that most autistic students lack. By fostering peer mentor relationships for students with autism at the elementary school age level, there will be an increase in academic and social success in their educational journey and beyond, empowering the neurodivergent community to pursue postsecondary education and employment opportunities. Project LEAD volunteers will curate lesson plans that not only allow autistic students to catch up to the mainstream academic curriculum, but also help with personal development and interpersonal skills, such as organization, abstract thinking, and communication. 

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VISALA TALLAVARJULA, UCSB

Project Title: Irrigation Water Use Efficiency & Plant Yield Improvement Utilizing Carbon Sequestration

Visala has an innovative design idea to improve water use efficiency for irrigation. The idea is to
mitigate evaporation and percolation losses while improving plant yield with carbon
sequestration. Visala has tested the idea in containers and has generated preliminary data that is
compelling. Visala worked with a team of researchers at the Centurion University of Technology
and Management at Bhubaneswar, India and plans on implementing the idea and documenting
improvements at the Sedona Greenhouse Project Farm. Visala will work on using moisture
sensors to measure water retention at the plant root zone. The objective is to reduce the amount
of water required for irrigation by more than 20% and improve the plant yield by more than 10%.
If the results show promise, Visala plans on expanding the innovation to more small farms in
rural communities.

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JIRA TRINETKAMOL, UCI

Project Title: Back-up Bangkok

In my home city of Bangkok alone there are over ten thousand elderly citizens who have no family
caring for them. The combination of elderly employment insecurity coupled with Bangkok’s ever
increasing rent prices has resulted in more and more of the elderly population being evicted from
their own homes. Unfortunately, the magnitude of this issue is only going to get worse as Thailand’s
elderly population continues to rise. Hence, decisive action must be taken in order to support
Thailand’s most vulnerable population.
This is where Back-Up Bangkok (BUB) comes in: a project aimed at strengthening the safety-net
already created by non-profit organizations through the creation of an elderly income program thus
being a “back-up” to the good work already being done in Bangkok. BUB will utilize a two-pronged
approach that aims to provide support for the elderly population through both short and long-term
means. The first aim is to provide basic needs to the elderly population by constructing houses for
the elderly. The second priority of developing an elderly income program, which is the main focus of
the Strauss project, will utilize a 3-step process called AIM (Advocacy, Income, & Mentorship) to
ensure that the project is sustainable. AIM will raise awareness of the growing elderly demographic
in Thailand, provide the elderly with independence and income through the creation of small
businesses, and finally ensure that mentees are trained so that work on this program can be
continued.
Ultimately, the goal of BUB is to establish a replicable model that can be utilized by both non-profit organizations and other Thai service systems in ways that enable them to be more sustainable and
financially independent, in hopes of uplifting the elderly of the Thai community.

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ANGIE WANG, POMONA

Project Title: Care Navigators: Bridging the Gap between Clinical Care & Social Support

Health Bridges is a student-run nonprofit organization associated with the Draper Center for 
Community Partnerships at Pomona College, and was founded on the principle that everyone  -
regardless of their language, income level, or immigration status  -   should have access to quality 
healthcare. While our current Health Advocate program leverages the passion of our college volunteers 
to assist patients with obtaining medical insurance and translation services at Pomona alley 
Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC), patients still lack the connection between clinical setting and 
long-term social support services in their communities. With the recognition that social 
determinants of health must also be addressed outside of the hospital space, this project seeks to 
pioneer a Care Navigators program comprised of college volunteers to mobilize care coordination nd 
social service programs by 1) expanding social needs screening among PVHMC patients, 2) ensuring 
that discharged patients have access to key community resources and 3) directly connecting patients 
to our partner programs. Through remote and in-person services, Care Navigators will not only offer 
increased support for more patients at PVHMC, but also work to provide care coordination resources 
to clinics and health centers in the surrounding areas for the ultimate goal of bridging gaps in all 
aspects of care.