Center for Social Impact Celebrates 2023 Awardees for Excellence

Center for Social Impact Celebrates 2023 Awardees for Excellence

Writing students gather on campus lawn.

Through the Connecticut Writing Project, Bryan Ripley Crandall, PhD, brings hundreds of area students and teachers to campus during the summer months.

At the 17th Annual Awards Celebration, students, faculty members, and community partners were recognized for excellence in community-engaged teaching, research, and humanitarian action.

In her opening remarks at the Center for Social Impact’s 17th Annual Awards Celebration on April 20, 2023, CSI Director Melissa Quan, EdD, recalled the words of Superior General Arturo Sosa, S.J., at the 2018 World Meeting of Jesuit Universities, when he reaffirmed the mission of Jesuit higher education to be a “project of social transformation.”

“Today we are here to celebrate the many faculty, staff, students, and community partners who help to realize this mission at Fairfield University,” Dr. Quan said, “by journeying together to build a more hope-filled future.”

Following a year-end review of successful CSI programs during the 2022-23 academic year, the recipients of these awards were recognized:

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2023-24 Newman Civic Fellow:
Jacqueline Campbell ’24

An English major on the teacher education track, Campbell’s advocacy work focuses on access to education for women and girls, specifically within immigrant and refugee populations. During her fellowship year, she will expand an initiative she helped to establish at Fairfield University, Girl Up, a network of affiliate programs that support adolescent girls’ education, health, and safety. Sponsored by Campus Compact, Newman fellowships are awarded nationally to students who are change-makers and public problem-solvers. Read more about Campbell’s Newman Fellowship here.

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2023 Humanitarian Action Award:
Nya Jones ’23

With a dual major in international studies and sociology & anthropology, and a minor in humanitarian action, Jones’ capstone project, “Deconstructing Localization From a Decolonial Perspective,” is a call to action for humanitarian, development, and peace-building sectors to rethink how their organizations operate and respond to crises. A student-athlete on Fairfield’s volleyball team, Jones was an MLK Vision Award recipient in 2021.

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2023 Global Citizen Award:
Julia Neal ’23

As a nursing major and a humanitarian action minor, Neal has researched important intersections between these two critically important fields, culminating in a capstone project on “The Weaponization of Women’s Reproduction Among the Uyghur Minority in China.” A guiding force in the Humanitarian Action Club, she has drawn attention to humanitarian emergencies, advocated on behalf of populations in need, and inspired others through her service and campaigning to release imprisoned scholars at risk. 

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2023 Outstanding Community Partner Award:
Jessica Baldizon M’15
Cesar Batalla School

Fairfield alumna Jessica Baldizon MA’15 is an ESOL teacher and co-chair of the Students and Teachers Empowerment Partnership (STEP), a collaboration between Fairfield University and Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport. STEP brings more than 100 University students to the elementary school each year, to engage in classroom support, tutoring, afterschool programs, and fundraisers. Baldizon was the 2022 recipient of the Bridgeport Public Education Fund’s Inspiration Award for Outstanding Teaching, and this year will also be presented with the prestigious Theodore and Margaret Beard Excellence in Teaching Award.

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The Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., Award for Excellence in Community Engagement Award:
Bryan Ripley Crandall, PhD

This award is named in honor of Fairfield University’s eighth president. The 2023 recipient, Dr. Crandall, professor of English education and director of the Connecticut Writing Project, has taught a community-engaged learning course nearly every semester since 2015. Through the Connecticut Writing Project, he has welcomed more than 1,000 students and hundreds of local teachers to campus each summer to participate in Young Adult Literacy Labs, Teacher Institutes, and Ubuntu Academy – a space for refugees and immigrant-background youth to come together to learn, write, and, in many cases, heal. A past recipient of the MLK Vision Award and the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Civic Leadership Award, this year Dr. Crandall was named a national finalist for Campus Compact’s Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award.

2023 Peace Corps Prep Certificates were awarded to Nya Jones ’23, Julia Neal ’23, Kristen Alexander ’23, and Hanna Sencaj ’23, upon successful completion of the program.

Representing the College of Arts and Sciences and all of Fairfield’s professional schools, the final groups to be celebrated were the outgoing and incoming cohorts of Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) Faculty Grant recipients.

The outgoing 2022-23 grantees – Carolina Añón Suárez, PhD; Mehmet Cansoy, PhD; Susan Kibe, PhD; Jocelyn Novella, PhD; Jessica Alicea-Planas, PhD; and Mirco Speretta, PhD – were thanked for the time and effort they devoted to developing new CEL courses over the current academic year.

The incoming cohort of grantees who will work on course development in 2023-24 – Covadonga Arango-Martin, PhD; Laura Gasca Jiménez, PhD; Alyson Martin, PhD; Emily Shamash, PhD; Jeanne Peloso, PhD; Dilani Perera, PhD; Anthony Santella, PhD; and Zhu Zhang, PhD, were welcomed and congratulated.

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