When a small group of faculty and administrators started Brookdale’s Global Citizenship Project (GCP) in 2010, they imagined creating a culture of applied learning, social activism and “big picture” thinking among the college’s student body. In the years since, that mission has evolved into a college-wide phenomenon, sparking new student clubs, service learning initiatives and course curriculum designed to engage students and inspire them to think outside the classroom.
Those efforts received some well deserved recognition during the sixth annual Global Citizenship Awards, held before a capacity crowd of students, employees and family members in the Student Life Center on April 21.
The program began with remarks by Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy, International Education Center director Dr. Janice Thomas and Brookdale English instructor Kelsey Maki, who gave an overview of the projects, essays, speeches and other contributions that would be honored throughout the evening.
“People often refer to higher education and college as somehow separate from ‘the real world,’ but I would argue that this ceremony is proof that what we are doing here is so real,” said Maki, who also serves as faculty liaison to the International Center.
“To expand our circle, to seek out information about people and places that we once considered to be foreign, to extend our compassion to encompass those we have previously labeled as other, and to engage in pressing problems and think about solutions to global issues – that is at the core of what we are doing.”
The ceremony recognized 23 individual students for their globally centered work throughout the 2015-16 school year, including David DeMonico’s research into the economic and public health impacts of expanding industry in China, Ginna Feliciano’s essay on the egalitarian effectiveness of Cuba’s health care system and Carly Kaplan’s research into the dangers of pregnancy in Sierra Leone.
“One in 8 women are at risk of dying in pregnancy Sierra Leone, Africa,” said Kaplan. “That’s one person from each table here tonight. In this day and age, that is unacceptable.”
Awards also went to three student organizations. UndocuALLY, headed by Jocelyn Rojas, Diana Escalona, Daysi Arevalo Avalos, Johanna Retamozo and Monica Urena, works to provide resources and support for undocumented students living in America.
Students for Global Citizenship, represented at the ceremony by Mona Patel and Sameerah Wahab, was honored for its international activism throughout the past year, including multiple college life events centered on women, Muslims and African youth, and hosting various fundraisers to build a water well for a village in Rwanda.
The Innovation Network (TIN), represented by Lana Leonard, Vincent Pino, Alex Nichols and Jake Pinelli, was recognized for spearheading a series of campus greening initiatives and its fundraising efforts in support of Habitat for Humanity.
“What I’ve come to love about TIN is that it’s not sitting in a classroom, it’s not sitting in a lecture hall, and it’s not watching a video on a TV screen. It’s sitting with a group of like-minded people and working to solve a problem,” Pinelli said. “This is how college should be.”
Global Citizenship Awards also went to three Brookdale employees for their own contributions. Rosemary Kochman, coordinator of the Brookdale Employee Volunteer Connection (EVC), was honored for the EVC’s ongoing community outreach programs and donation drives, including Empty Bowls, Project Backpack, Giving Trees and their work with HABcore in Red Bank, where Brookdale volunteers serve meals to dozens of homeless adults every two months.
Lucy Wadych-Ketley, advisor with the International Education Center, was recognized for her tireless support and dedication to Brookdale’s international student community, while chemistry Professor Shahin Pirzad was honored for his achievements as co-advisor of Brookdale’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.
Assistant reading Professor Barbara Barella also received the Outstanding Curricular Contribution Award for encouraging her students to adopt a global perspective both in and out of the classroom.
Student award-winner Asmik Anechiarico, following her engaging presentation on the lasting impacts of the Armenian Genocide, explained how she was inspired to begin her research while reading Adam Bagdasarian’s critically acclaimed novel Forgotten Fire in Barella’s class.
“I was in the right place at the right time with the right professor,” Anechiarico said. “Thank you Professor Barella for engaging your students in global issues like genocide and making an impact. Because of educators like you, we get a better understanding of the world and we have the ability to change it for the better.”
Those sentiments were echoed by many of the evening’s honorees, who thanked their teachers, advisors and colleagues for encouraging them to identify global problems and giving them the tools and the confidence to try to solve them.
“When we try to solve big issues like this we usually get discouraged,” said student Brianna Devaney, who won an award for her research into the impacts of restricted water access in Africa. “But I think a good place to start is by educating people. That’s why I’m here today.”
Also in attendance were GCP members Howard Miller and Terry Konn, who announced that Brookdale will begin offering “Global Citizenship Distinction” to eligible graduates beginning in the 2016-17 school year.
For the full list of Global Citizenship Award winners, click here.
Learn more about the Global Citizenship Project here.
Check out more photos of the ceremony here.