Center for Social Impact Honors 2024 Awardees for Excellence

Center for Social Impact Honors 2024 Awardees for Excellence

Aerial shot of the lush, green Fairfield University campus on a bright, Fall day.

At the 18th Annual Awards Celebration, honorees were recognized for excellence in community-engaged teaching, research, and humanitarian action.

“We are here to celebrate the many faculty, staff, students, and community partners who help realize Fairfield’s mission, as a Jesuit university, to be a ‘project of social transformation,’ by journeying together to build a more hope-filled future,” said CSI Director Melissa Quan, EdD, at the Center for Social Impact’s 18th Annual Awards Celebration on April 25.

Following a year-end review of successful CSI programs during the 2023-24 academic year, the recipients of these awards were recognized:

2024-25 Newman Civic Fellow: Christopher (Tripp) Lyons '25
Sponsored by Campus Compact, Newman fellowships are awarded nationally to university students who are change-makers and public problem-solvers. A committed advocate for disability rights, politics major Christopher (Tripp) Lyons '25 partnered with the Office of Accessibility to establish the Student Accessibility Ambassadors group, which focuses on campus accessibility barriers, concerns, and pathways to more equitable and accessible practices. During his fellowship year, Lyons will continue his work to enhance campus infrastructure and accessibility. Read more about Lyons’ Newman Fellowship.

2023-24 Humanitarian Action Awards: Amelia Bowles '24 and Julia Farah '24
This citation is given for outstanding academic performance in Humanitarian Action coursework and evidence of commitment to humanitarian action service. This year, there were two awardees:

Humanitarian action minor and Phi Beta Kappa inductee Amelia Bowles '24 is a Humanitarian Action Fellow and co-founder and chairman of the junior board of Caroline House in Bridgeport, which provides services to low-income immigrant women. While studying abroad in France, Bowles completed an internship with Le Collectif Agir, assisting asylum seekers and migrants. She interned as a researcher with the Unite the World With Africa Foundation and will be a Fulbright scholar in Senegal next year, focusing on food security.

Nursing student Julia Farah '24 has minors in humanitarian action and mathematics. She completed the Peace Corps Prep program and interned with the Catholic Medical Mission Board, where she worked on projects to define the scope of practice for clinical volunteers. A member of the Sigma Theta Tau international honor society of nursing, Farah also served as a student nurse intern in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Greenwich Hospital. Her humanitarian action capstone project focused on the “Gravity of Maternal and Infant Morbidity in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

2023-24 Humanitarian Action Fellows Awards: Evan Keiser '24, Jackie Campbell '24, and Amelia Bowles '24  
As a first-year student, Evan Keiser '24 launched a Humanitarian Action Club initiative to raise funds and build water filters for a non-profit called Wine to Water. In the past four years, a total of close to $20,000 has been raised and campus volunteers have built 350 filters to enable families around the globe to access clean, potable water.

In addition to the accomplishments noted above, Amelia Bowles '24 partnered with Jackie Campbell '24 to cofound a campus chapter of Girl Up, a global initiative to mitigate obstacles to girls’ education. Campbell also tutored Afghan refugee children in English at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport and, as the 2023 Newman scholar, was instrumental in initiating the availability of free feminine hygiene products on campus.

2024 Outstanding Community Partner Award: Marilyn Faber, Parish Nurse Program Coordinator

Marilyn Faber’s career is focused on expanding and enhancing access to healthcare for underserved communities. As parish nurse program coordinator, she manages a team of 225 volunteer nurses who provide educational programs, preventative health screenings, and healthcare referrals to support 79 parishes and congregations throughout Fairfield County.

Since 2014, Faber has also been involved in the Know Your Numbers campaign, which offers biometric health screenings — including cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar tests — to guests at local food pantries and community meal programs. The campaign offers a community-engaged clinical experience to approximately 25 Egan School nursing students each year.

The 2024 Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., Award for Excellence in Community Engagement Award: Uma Balaji, PhD
This award is named in honor of Fairfield University’s eighth president. The 2024 recipient, Dr. Uma Balaji, associate professor and chair of electrical and biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering and Computing, was recognized for her efforts to expand and sustain STEM education outreach programming to Fairfield County youth.

With funding from the Constellation Corporation, Dr. Balaji and her engineering colleagues developed the SuSTEMability program, now in its third year. Recruiting and training undergraduate engineering majors to serve as SuSTEMability fellows, the program engages hundreds of Fairfield County elementary and middle school students with a focus on renewable energy and environmental sustainability through hands-on STEM learning activities.

2024 Peace Corps Prep Certificates were awarded to Zana Imetovski '24, Michaela Thompson '24, Carolyn McDermott '24, Maureen Skroly '24, Julia Farah '24, and Rishi Black '25, 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 2023-24 grantees – 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 thanked for the time and effort they devoted to developing new CEL courses over the current academic year.

The incoming cohort of grantees working on course development in 2024-25 – Amanda Haber, PhD; Mary Kate Holman, PhD; Sonya Huber, PhD; Sara Williams, PhD; and Julie Mughal, were welcomed and congratulated.

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