Sara Marie Tomczyk
Sara Marie Tomczyk, 24, Minneapolis, a 2009 graduate of the University of Minnesota in nursing, focused her undergraduate work in international health and migrant care. Her studies included internship opportunities to explore health and social change in Ethiopia and Turkey. Sara founded the U of M Global Health and Transcultural Nursing Group and also served as a student senator on behalf of all academic health program students. While a student, she worked at the Minneapolis Center for Victims of Torture in refugee case management. At the University, Sara was recognized with the Zander Award for Outstanding Leadership, the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, the Ellen Fahey Nursing Leadership Award, the Academic and Social Service Bentson Scholarship, and the Journal of Vascular Nursing Writing Award for research publication. After graduation, Sara spent two years in Ethiopia as public health manager for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), where her efforts centered around neglected tropical diseases, specifically a disfiguring, stigmatizing disease of the feet called podoconiosis. Sara developed a new holistic model of treatment and care involving all members of the community and created a series of integrated multi-level projects to improve life for those affected. Sara has also served as the international podoconiosis manager for TOMS Shoes, a company that donates a pair of shoes to people in need for every one purchased. This fall, Sara begins a Master’s Program in epidemiology/public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Brittany Gallagher, 28, of Lake Geneva, WI, has served both in AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in communication and film, she is currently attending Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, pursuing a master’s degree in environmental studies. Her focus is empowering communities to use their collective power to improve the lives and health of their people and their natural environment. While an undergraduate, Brittany co-led two “alternative break” trips focused on environmental justice and education. After graduation, she joined AmeriCorps, leading service trips for at-risk teenagers. In 2006, she began work with the Institute for Children’s Environmental Health. In 2007, Brittany joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in a poor village in Niger as a natural resource management volunteer. There she helped spearhead the development of a plantation to grow a variety of tree with nutrient-laden leaves and built awareness about the tree’s benefits for improving nutrition. After the Peace Corps, she spent a year in Fiji, for service and postgraduate research on the connection between environmental and social problems in the Pacific.
Christine Jeske, 34, Madison, WI, has spent many years living with and learning from people in poverty around the world. She is a 1999 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in English literature and piano and holds an MBA in international economic development from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. She is currently pursuing a PhD in socio-cultural anthropology at Wisconsin. Christine’s doctoral emphasis is how cultural misunderstandings and power assumptions deter development and justice in the developing world. Christine and her husband have worked in Nicaragua, China and South Africa in a variety of roles including community development, refugee resettlement, teaching and speaking on the topics of peace and justice. She is the author of a 2009 autobiographical book about her experiences, Into the Mud: Inspiration for Everyday Activists, True Stories of Africa.
A. Lori Saroya
A. Lori Saroya, Blaine, MN, is a 2007 graduate of St. Catherine University currently studying law at Hamline University in St. Paul. She plans to practice immigrant law serving minority communities. She is the co-founder and chairwoman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-MN, where she advocates for victims of hate crimes and discrimination and educates the community and employers about legal rights and religious accommodation. She has worked as a clerk at the Immigrant Law Center of MN, and as a program coordinator and crime victim advocate for the Council on Crime and Justice in Minneapolis. She serves on the board of directors of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and as a St. Paul Foundation Facing Race Ambassador. She has also been active with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Task Force and the Minnesota International Center. Lori is using some of her scholarship to begin youth leadership programs in the Twin Cities, with the goal of offering young Muslims concrete ways through which they can leverage their faith values towards constructive citizenship that benefits community and country.
Anya Svanoe, 22, Sioux Falls, SD, is a senior at the University of Minnesota majoring in global studies, social justice and leadership. Throughout her undergraduate years, Anya has worked extensively on a variety of social justice issues, including a development project in Honduras, study abroad in Kenya, activism on the campus and in a student coop. She has volunteered with MPIRG and tutored at several elementary schools. She will use her scholarship money to help support her ongoing organizing work with organizations such as ISAIAH and Take Action Minnesota.