Beyond Vassar

Recent Graduates Win Compton Mentor Fellowships

By Mally Anderson

Jacqueline “Jacquie” Law  ’09, top, and Juliana Valente ’09, bottom, have been awarded Compton Mentor Fellowships for 2009–10. Sponsored by the Compton Foundation, this unusual fellowship supports graduating seniors in self-designed projects that turn formal learning into real-world actions. The foundation promotes the vision of its benefactors, Dorothy and Randolph Compton, who “believed strongly in the importance of combining research and activism to address world problems.”

Each fellow is required to design a project with social merit. Law, a political science major from Meridian, Idaho, is devoting her fellowship to advancing the goals of the Vassar Uganda Project, which she founded in 2008. She returned to Bugweri Sub-district in Iganga, Uganda, to help reduce maternal and neonatal mortality alongside the Iganga District Health Office, the Iganga Hospital, local healthcare centers, the Uganda Village Project, and local organizations of government and civil society.

Juliana Valente '09
Juliana Valente '09
Dr. Peter Waiswa, a professor at Makerere University School of Public Health, will supervise Law’s work, which will include training healthcare providers in the Bugweri district in neonatal CPR; sharing Safe Baby OB kits with village midwives and traditional birth attendants; providing safe water and malaria prevention supplies; and developing a motorcycle ambulance program. The idea for the Vassar Uganda Project came from Law’s work in Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies Timothy Longman’s course on African politics, in which she wrote a paper about civil war and human rights in Uganda. She first traveled there with a group of Vassar students, mostly EMTs, in 2008.

Juliana Valente, a native of São Paulo, Brazil, founded the Women’s Exchange Program, based at the Poughkeepsie Family Partnership Center. The primary focus of the program is a support group for formerly incarcerated women intended to help them adjust to life outside of prison. The second component is the dissemination of information to local youth through discussions and workshops, prepared by the formerly incarcerated women, for high school girls.

Valente says the program’s aim is to prevent violence prior to and post-incarceration, and, consequently, to help lower recidivism rates in Poughkeepsie. She hopes that the Women’s Exchange Program will also provide youth with alternatives to violence. Bonnie Allen, director of the Dutchess Collaborative Reentry Project, will serve as a mentor to Valente.

Law and Valente are two of only nine 2009 graduates across the country to win the award. The fellowship, which comes with a stipend of $35,000, ends in mid-June.

—Mally Anderson '10

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Law, Anne Sherwood; Courtesy of Juliana Valente

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