March brought the announcement of the second annual President’s Engagement Prizes, which support philanthropic proposals by Penn seniors who pursue them in their first year after graduation [“Gazetteer,” May|June 2015]. There were three winners, each of whom will receive as much as $100,000 to cover project implementation expenses and up to $50,000 for living expenses.
Vaishak Kumar, a College senior from India, will spend the next year trying to use mobile technology to improve farmers’ education and access to timely information in his home country. He is being mentored by Devesh Kapur, the director of Penn’s Center for the Advanced Study of India. Nursing senior Melanie Mariano will partner with the Free Library of Philadelphia to assist library patrons in obtaining health information, medical counseling, and preventive health services, using an “inter-professional health care model with social workers, nurses, and librarians.” Her mentor is Monica Harmon, a senior lecturer in the Nursing School. College senior Kriya Patel will help women about to be released from Philadelphia’s Riverside Correctional Facility secure health insurance, and plans to track participants for at least three years to monitor the impact of continued care on recidivism rates. She is being mentored by Kathleen Brown, a practice associate professor in the Nursing School.
“We are proud of our students’ commitment to meaningful work that extends beyond the classroom and the campus,” said Provost Vincent Price in a statement. “We are indebted to the outstanding faculty members who helped develop these projects—and to the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, which gives our students the tools to discover their passions and then put them into practice.”