Emily Springer, 2012 Jacobson Scholar
Emily Springer, 28, Minneapolis, is a PhD student in sociology at the University of Minnesota. She graduated from Minneapolis South High School in 2002 and earned a B.A. at Ohio State University with a dual major in International Studies and African Studies. She went on to earn a master’s degree in International Education Policy at Harvard University, specializing in East Africa.
In high school, Emily worked to support the East African people who were attending her school and living in her city. This commitment has continued throughout her educational career. She has served as a volunteer tutor, a leader of teacher training and evaluation, and a technical advisor at Dire Dawa University in Ethiopia. At Dire Dawa, she developed programs to promote the success of female students and also chaired the committee that developed the institution’s five-year plan to ensure quality education.
Emily’s dissertation focuses on women’s empowerment in Tanzania and the social worlds of female small farmers. After completing her degree, she plans to return to East Africa after earning her degree to serve as a professor in East African public universities.
Ronald Aminzade, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, wrote of Emily: “Emily is a superb and experienced teacher and a gifted leader…Through her work as a mentor, teacher trainer, educator and administrator, she has made important contributions to peace and justice.”
Sarah Fries, 29, Duluth, MN, is enrolled at the College of St. Scholastica pursuing a master’s degree in Management and Business Administration with focus on health care leadership and organizational development. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota-Duluth majoring in Women’s Studies, Political Science and International Studies.
During her undergraduate years, she served as a volunteer intern at PAVSA, an agency that supports victims of sexual assault. PAVSA began a training program for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) in Duluth and hired Sarah as the program coordinator. Sarah trained and supervised nursing staff and oversaw enhancements including 24 hour availability, an extended protocol to cover victims under 13, improved electronic records and preservation of evidence. Sarah led a community team including emergency room staff, doctors, prosecutors, police, social workers and counselors from local colleges to develop anonymous and deferred reporting options for victims. The program has been used as a national model for other communities.
Candace Harshner, executive director of PAFSA, wrote of Sarah: “Sara is one of the most hard-working, persistent and motivated individuals I have ever known…She is that person who will consistently go the extra mile to create a safer and more responsive community.”
Tamara Hayes, 33, St. Paul, is enrolled at Eastern University in Philadelphia where she is pursuing a master’s degree in International Development. She is a graduate of Central High School in St. Paul and earned a B.S. in psychology with a concentration in cross-cultural communications at North Central University.
Tamara has spent the past six years living and working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the Mennonite Central Committee. Much of her recent effort has centered on a community of people living with HIV on a mountain close to Addis.
“These are whole families who are stigmatized by this virus,” she says. “Having lost their place in the community and feeling rejected and condemned even by God himself, they have come to Mt. Entoto to seek a cure for their curse. They are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and either have faith that the holy water on that mountain will cure them or expect to die there.”
Tamara and her Ethiopian friends helped empower the people on the mountain to create a fair-trade jewelry business, a school for children, a health clinic and housing. Now the jewelry company employs over 100 women and is being turned over to an Ethiopian businesswoman to continue the work. Tamara plans to build her skills to continue this type of outreach. She is using her scholarship to help fund her studies.
Daniel Leonard, Mennonite Central Committee Country Representative, wrote of Tamara: “Tamara has a strong work ethic and a deep commitment to the poor. She brings a passion for meeting immediate needs as well as addressing root causes of poverty and injustice.”
Rahsaan Mahadeo, 30, Minneapolis, is enrolled at the University of Minnesota pursing a doctorate in sociology. He earned a B.A. in psychology/sociology at the University of Rhode Island and an M.A. in sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
On the East Coast, Rahsaan spent seven years as a counselor working directly with youth and families deeply entrenched in urban American poverty and violence. He experienced through his work the culture of what he terms the “fast life” among many poor, urban youth and is making the study of that culture the focus of his doctoral work. “The perception of violence as an impending and inevitable threat has enduring implications for the way one envisions his/her future,” he says. “I intend to explore the extent to which such fatalistic beliefs derive from obstructed pathways to success due to structural forces (e.g. discrimination, violence) beyond one’s control…The impetus behind the majority of my efforts in life lies in a personal desire to witness social equality.”
He currently volunteers with Urban 4-H in North Minneapolis, working with two groups of youth with separate missions. Silence the Violence Crew attempts to educate others about the principles of non-violence. E^3 (Educate, Enlighten, Empower) focses on ending stigma and discrimination.
Jeylan Mortimer, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, wrote of Rahsaan: “I believe he merits this scholarship because of his strong commitment to peace and justice, and his intention to dedicate his career and life to the amelioration of the life chances of inner city youth of color.”
Karen Van Fossan
Karen Van Fossan, 43, Bismarck, ND, is a M.Div. student at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities where she is enrolled in the Justice and Peace Studies program She earned a B.A. in English with a Women’s Studies minor at Northern Illinois University in 1991. She holds a master’s degree in Somatic Counseling from Naropa University.
Karen moved to North Dakota as a VISTA volunteer to address violence against women on college campuses. In 2003, at the height of the war in Iraq, she led the North Dakota Peace Coalition in a successful effort to pass a resolution by the North Dakota legislature to promote peace in Iraq. As president and spokesperson for the coalition, Karen was subjected to hate mail and threatening calls. She learned to bridge the gap between strongly opposing sides by finding common ground for consensus.
In the years since then, Karen has worked as a community advocate, peace activist and counselor for at-risk teens. In an effort to develop a deeper approach at building community, she plans to enter parish ministry after completing her studies at United.
North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern wrote this of Karen: “Karen by religious beliefs and work experience demonstrates her belief in the intrinsic value of life. Her involvement in education, social services and religious activities all point to promoting peace in relationships and the world.”