Embrey Human Rights Program selects five SMU students as Community Outreach Fellows

For the second cohort of Community Outreach Fellows (COF), the most prestigious honor the Embrey Human Rights Program (EHRP) offers, only five students were selected. This year-long program offers students the opportunity to serve the Dallas community and develop the skills necessary to make real world change.

After a competitive application process, fellows create a year-long project in conjunction with a local placement organization. They identify relevant community needs, establish feasible goals and objectives and see the project to its end, working around 200 hours over the year. Throughout this time, they receive dual mentorship from the EHRP staff and their placement organization.

The 2015 -16 Community Outreach Fellows are currently finishing up and reflecting on their projects. Here is what they have been working on:

Daryl Parker: Parker is graduating in May with a Master’s degree in human rights and social justice. He is currently working alongside the Innocence Project of Texas (IPTX), to provide free investigative services to indigent defendants in pursuit of post-conviction relief on the grounds of actual innocence. His daily work uncovers prosecutorial misconduct, law enforcement error and the negative role money plays in the criminal justice system. With only a two-person staff to handle numerous time-consuming cases, Parker’s services provide unparalleled support for IPTX. Parker had previously volunteered with the organization as part of the service requirement for Dr. Rick Halperin’s human rights course. He was intrigued by the opportunity because of his background as a former criminal investigator. Once he saw how poorly some of the cases had been handled he was committed to the cause. Since his involvement in the COF program, he has learned that “social justice work is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes a lot of people with the right priorities and resources to effect change.”

Liliana Garcia: Garcia is a junior studying international relations. She is also involved in Kappa Delta Chi sorority, inc. and College Hispanic American Students (CHAS). As a first-generation graduate from a Dallas Independent School District (DISD) school, she was inspired to create workshops to prepare students like herself for college. She knew how hard the college application process was and has since been making it easier for those who are following her. She focuses primarily on first-generation Hispanic students and encourages them to attend four-year universities. She works closely with parents and students from the North Dallas region and Roberto Corona, EHRP Community Outreach Coordinator. As a COF, Garcia has learned how to deal with challenging situations, how to find the resources she needs for her projects and how others (especially those in her cohort) are targeting the various issues in the Dallas community.

Sam Butz: Butz is a junior studying creative advertising and fashion media. She was recently awarded a local silver American Advertising Award for her work in product promotion. She is also a member of SMU’s Division I Swim Team and an Engaged Learning Fellow. She has combined her love for fashion, her interest in human rights, and her participation on a swim team that wears SMU purchased uniforms for this project. For the past year, she has researched and developed campaigns on labor rights surrounding the apparel at SMU. This idea first came to her when she was enrolled in Professor Carina Heckert‘s Health as a Human Rights class, which she signed-up for without any knowledge of or interest in the area. Her semester project was on Alta Garcia, a living-wage garment factory in the Dominican Republic. She researched and visited the factory and quickly realized that there was a void on campus surrounding garment worker’s rights. She saw the fellowship as an opportunity to incite change on campus and bring light to the issues at hand. Through her work she has learned how much time goes into research and changing existing systems and because of that, she has also learned that even a small step of progress is a success.

Sandra Ostad: Ostad is a second-year Masters in Liberal Arts student studying Human Rights and Refugees. After interning in the development department at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of Dallas, Ostad decided to apply for the Community Outreach Fellowship to continue her work with the refugee populations of Dallas. She has been working to connect the IRC with refugee communities and to expand their immigration department. A bulk of her work has been focused on developing and implementing a sustainable citizenship education program to help refugees and legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens. She is also working on building and strengthening the IRC’s relationships with community partners, religious sites and other resettlement organizations in Dallas. These partners can then work alongside the IRC to ensure that refugees know who to turn to for legal advice and assistance. Her time thus far as a fellow has been exceptionally beneficial in helping her grow intellectually and professionally.

Vanna Ngo: Ngo is a Masters students studying Human Rights and Social Justice. She is working on introducing a restorative justice program into Residence Life and Student Conduct. These measures would work alongside regular adjudication methods and be offered when a student is deemed eligible for participation in a facilitated dialogue. She has worked with the University of Michigan and University of Oregon to develop a training manual. She is now working with SMU’s Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for implementation. She has been able to learn how over 30 colleges and universities in the U.S. have created restorative justice programs of their own and have been successful. She has been inspired by restorative justice programs ability to give victims a voice and to foster a greater sense of community and healing. Ngo also co-founded the non-profit, Peace is Possible, where in conjunction with EHRP they hold a Peace Day Conference each year on the UN declared International Day of Peace.

EHRP Assistant Director Brad Klein has worked closely with this year’s COFs and they’ve each looked to him for motivation and advice through the process. “I am impressed and inspired by this year’s Community Outreach Fellowship projects,” says Klein. Each fellow started one year ago with an idea of how to address a human rights problem. With hard work, determination, and passion, those ideas developed into practical strategies for change. Along the way, the fellows were supported by professionals on campus and in the community who graciously shared time and expertise. All the projects – whether focused on wrongful convictions, migrant education, worker rights, refugee support, or restorative justice – have impacted the SMU and Dallas communities in positive ways.”

Applications for the 2016-17 program are due by April 15. All SMU students who will be enrolled in courses during the fellowship are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the COF website or contact Klein.

SMU-record 14 professors receive 2014-15 Sam Taylor Fellowships

UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry logoFourteen SMU faculty members – a University-record number – have received 2014-15 Sam Taylor Fellowships from the Sam Taylor Fellowship Fund of the Division of Higher Education, United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

The Fellowships, funded by income from a portion of Taylor’s estate, award up to $2,000 for full-time faculty members at United Methodist-related colleges and universities in Texas. Any full-time faculty member is eligible to apply for the Fellowships, which support research “advancing the intellectual, social or religious life of Texas and the nation.”

Applications are evaluated on the significance of the project, clarity of the proposal, professional development of the applicant, value of the project to the community or nation, and the project’s sensitivity to value questions confronting higher education and society.

The winning professors for this academic year, and their projects:

Edward Countryman, History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, for research at the Canadian National Archives for his book on Joseph Brant and colonial America.

Johan Elverskog, Religious Studies, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, to work in the Getty Museum’s archives for his book on the history of Buddhist influence in art.

Kathleen Gallagher, Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship, Meadows School of the Arts, to conduct interviews in Puerto Rico regarding non-profit organization life cycles.

Adam Herring, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, to include color plates in his monograph on Inca artworks.

Peter Kupfer, Music History, Meadows School of the Arts, to survey how viewers understand cultural meanings of classical music used in advertising.

Rita Linjuan Men, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts, to collect survey data for analysis of transparency in organizations’ social media communications.

Rebekah Miles, Perkins School of Theology, for archival research and interviews regarding Ursula Niebuhr’s works.

Brian Molanphy, Art, Meadows School of the Arts, to support his Spring 2015 artist residency at l’Ecole de céramique de Provence in France.

Lisa Pon, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, for inclusion of illustrations in her forthcoming book.

Christopher Roos, Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, to support collaborative research in Tasmania.

Brett Story, Environmental and Civil Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, for load-testing materials to study collapse resistance in buildings.

Peng Tao, Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, for software to study protein-folding and unfolded protein response.

Jenia Turner, Dedman School of Law, to survey prosecutors and defense attorneys nationally regarding the U.S. criminal justice system.

Hye Jin Yoon, Temerlin Advertising Institute, Meadows School of the Arts, for a survey regarding efficacy of advertising appeals to individualism versus collectivism.

Grant and fellowship application deadlines approaching

A reminder of upcoming deadlines for fellowship and grant applications:

• SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility is accepting applications for the 2009-10 Maguire Teaching Fellow Award, which provides cash awards of $3,000 to professors who design an ethics-related course or curricular unit in their field of study. Deadline to apply is Feb. 12, 2009; the recipient will be announced March 5. For details, instructions and a list of past Fellows’ courses, visit the Maguire Center website.

• SMU’s Office of Leadership and Community Involvement provides Faculty Development Grants of up to $500 each for up to 18 faculty members who seek to develop courses with a service-learning component. Applicants must attend a service-learning workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. either on Feb. 18 or Feb. 19, 2009, where grant materials will be be distributed. The deadline to RSVP for either workshop is Feb. 13, 2009. For more information, visit the Leadership and Community Involvement website, or contact Geoff Whitcomb, 214-768-4406.

The Aspen Institute and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) will cosponsor a Wye Faculty Seminar July 18-24, 2009 in Queenstown, Maryland. The seminar is a one-week roundtable on the role of the arts and sciences in developing citizens for participation in American society. SMU may nominate up to two faculty members for consideration. Interested faculty members should submit a CV and a one-page rationale of interest in participation to Kathleen Hugley-Cook, Office of National Fellowships, before March 1, 2009. A campus committee will be convened to determine nominees.

Clements Center receives Summerlee Foundation grant

Clements Center logoThe Summerlee Foundation has awarded a three-year grant to SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The grant will support post-doctoral residential fellowships in Texas history.

The $164,220 grant, a renewal of previous grants from the foundation, will support three year-long fellowships between 2009 and 2012.

The current Summerlee Fellow is John W. Weber, who received his Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary in 2008 and currently is working on “The Shadow of the Revolution: South Texas, the Mexican Revolution, and the Evolution of Modern American Labor Relations.”

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Visit the Clements Center online

For the Record: Mar. 6, 2008

M.F.A. student in sculpture J. Neil Lawley has received a 2008-09 Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, awarded to students of “superior ability, achievement, and promise” for study at the doctoral or M.F.A. level in selected fields of arts, humanities and social sciences. The fellowship provides tuition and fees, and a living stipend of up to $30,000.

Soumya Awasthi, a 2007 Ph.D. graduate in biological sciences, has received a postdoctoral fellowship in the Harvard Medical School Division of Neurosciences. She will conduct research on Herpes Simplex viral vectors for gene-delivery and expression in the developing brain.

Ph.D. student in psychology Angie Berry has received a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital.

Warren C. Seay Jr., a Hunt Leadership Scholar and sophomore political science major, has been chosen as a member of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship‘s Class of 2009. The Institute selects 24 students nationally to participate in its intensive two-summer program.

Gearbox Software funds new fellowship at Guildhall

Randy Pitchford and Peter RaadGearbox Software, the Plano video game development studio behind the popular Brothers in Arms franchise, is pledging scholarship funds, professional mentors and a video lab to The Guildhall at SMU, the country’s leading graduate video game development program.

The gift of $50,000 to the Fellows Scholarship Program underscores the strong working relationship between The Guildhall and Gearbox, which has hired 15 graduates of the SMU video gaming program since its inception in 2004.

“The only thing growing faster than our industry is the need for new and creative talent,” said Gearbox CEO and President Randy Pitchford. “That’s why programs like The Guildhall at SMU need our support.”

“It doesn’t really surprise me that Randy was the first industry leader to support our Fellows Scholars,” says Guildhall Executive Director Peter Raad. “He believes, as we do, that we need to find ways to ensure financial barriers do not stand in the way for the very best students to attend our program and become contributing professionals and future leaders in the dynamic video game industry.” (Left, Randy Pitchford and Peter Raad.) Read more from SMU News.