Six sophomores have been selected as the second annual cohort of fellows by the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship (MCSE).
The six students — Gaby Fuentes ’16, Sarah James ’16.5, Rabeya Jawaid ’16, Winson Law ’16, Debanjan Roychoudhury ’16 and Prestige Shongwe ’16 — will each receive $8,000 over the next two and half years, along with access to training and mentorship that will enable them to implement social change within the community and issue-area of their respective choices with the guidance of the MCSE.
The MCSE was founded in January 2012 as a part of the Projects on Creativity and Innovation (PCI), an umbrella organization on campus that oversees entrepreneurial programs such as MiddCORE, the Old Stone Mill and TEDx, among others. The funding for MCSE’s programming comes from a large charitable donation from Alan Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.
This year’s group of six was selected from a pool of 12 applicants.
“Twelve applicants may seem low, but the fellowship is a 3-year, $8,000 commitment,” Heather Neuwirth, associate director of operations at the MCSE, said. “So I would attribute that to the fact that it might be intimidating to a sophomore who hasn’t even declared their major yet to make that kind of intense commitment. It’s impressive to see these sophomores apply, given the standards and expectations of the program. So we were really happy with our applicant pool, and it was so hard to choose from the 12 that applied.”
The MCSE fellows will matriculate in Social Entrepreneurship in the Liberal Arts (INTD 1122), taught by Professor of Economics Jon Isham during J-Term. They will spend the spring semester participating in skill-building workshops before participating in an internship at a social enterprise or organization that supports social enterprise next summer. When they return to campus next fall, they will spend the school year working to tie their interests and experiences with social issues to their academic work, before planning and implementing a self-designed social enterprise the following summer. In addition to this work, fellows are expected to act as ambassadors of the MCSE by attending relevant on-campus events and helping younger students access the programming offered at the center.
“I think as a group, these six capture what Middlebury is starting to become,” Isham said of this year’s cohort. “They represent a diversity of experience — in terms of background, in terms of where they were born and where they’re from, in terms of racial and ethnic diversity. Two are Posse scholars, one is a [University World College alumnus], there are three men and three women. In some ways they really capture who Middlebury is becoming. They’re great leaders, they are well known on campus and they are highly regarded by their peers. And all of this is important because one of the things we count on for the fellows is that they give back not only to each other as a cohort, but also to the broader community. From our point of view, the key thing about the fellowship and the investment of time, money and resources — it’s all an investment in the Middlebury student, as opposed to an investment in a project by itself.”