Joslin Award Recipients 2009

Vijou F. Bryant
Alison K. Cohen
Jakina R. Debnam
Michael R. Glassman
Fiona Heckscher
Zahra R. Hirji
Srividya Kalyanaraman
Nicholas J. Leiserson
Nabinita Pal
James R. Reed III

Vijou F. Bryant is an Ethnic Studies concentrator from Seattle, Washington. While at Brown, Vijou has been a passionate advisor to minority students. Vijou was a Minority Recruitment Intern, Minority Peer Counselor, Multicultural Identity Week Co-Programmer, and served on the executive board for the Brown Organization of Multi-Biracial Students. In addition, Vijou is a member of Archipeleg-a, a Filipino female spoke word group. Vijou also completed an honors thesis in Ethnic Studies, served as a Randall Advisor with Professor Evelyn Hu-Dehart, and received an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Assistantship in Ethnic and Gender and Sexuality Studies. After graduation, Vijou plans to move back to the west coast, where she will be working and possibly pursing graduate school.

Alison K. Cohen is from San Francisco, California and will graduate with Honors in Community Health and Education Studies. During her time at Brown, Alison was the Education Policy Editor for the Brown Policy Review, a University-Community Partnership Advisor at the Swearer Center for Public Service, a Student Representative on the Brown Community Council, a Meiklejohn Peer Advisor, and a teaching assistant for four courses. In addition, Alison won several awards for accomplishments, including a Royce Fellowship and a Harold Ward Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award. After a month-long train trip around the US with her younger brother this summer, Alison will head to the European Union as a Fulbright Scholar to consider how policy advocates and policymakers use environmental science to inform their work.

Jakina R. Debnam hails from Marietta, Georgia and will receive her degree in Applied Mathematics-Economics. As a student at Brown, Jakina dedicated much of her time to community service projects. She was the Head Program Coordinator for the City Girls City Brothers Project, a program that provides tutoring services to Providence school children, and was the Service Coordinator for the Imani Jubilee Worship Community. An outstanding writer and teacher, Jakina was also a Writing Fellow and a tutor for two classes in the Economics Department. Additionally, Jakina was a Residential Peer Counselor. After Brown, Jakina will be a Koch Associate, working as Research Assistant to Veronique DeRugy, a Senior Fellow at the Mercatus Center in Washington, DC.

Michael R. Glassman is from New York, New York and is graduating with degrees in Biophysics and Classics (with Honors). While at Brown, Michael spent much of his time encouraging Brown to take positive action to increase environmental sustainability. Michael was an influential member of the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee. He was the founder and a member of the Community Carbon Use Reduction at Brown Steering Committee. He led the creation of Project 20/20, a group that installs high efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs in low income homes in Providence. He co-founded the Hope Street Garden, an ongoing community garden and organized the Brown is Green Conference. Michael was the President of the Undergraduate Council of Students and a Meiklejohn Peer Advisor. Michael’s plans after graduation are undecided.

Fiona Heckscher is from Princeton, New Jersey and is concentrating in Public Policy and American Institutions. At Brown, Fiona was an Undergraduate Representative on the University Resources Committee and the Task Force on Undergraduate Education. She was a Leader, Manager and Mentor of Brown Outdoor Leadership Training, Coordinator of the Student Hunger and Housing Action Coalition, Coordinator of the Affordable Housing Winter Breaks Projects, and a member of Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere. In addition, Fiona was a Writing Fellow and a Senior EMT with Brown EMS. She is also the recipient of a Starr Fellowship, which allowed her to conduct a project on HIV/AIDS in Mali. Following graduation, Fiona will be starting as a Teach for America Corps Member in Phoenix, Arizona.

Zahra R. Hirji is from Chevy Chase, Maryland and will graduate with a degree in Geological Science. While at Brown, she has been extremely active in the Geology Department. She helped organize the department’s rock collection, worked at the Providence Natural History Museum as a docent, and wrote for the faculty online publication Today at Brown. Zahra was also heavily involved with Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) and has been one of the group’s coordinators for two years. In her junior year, Zahra organized an inter-university conference, and as a senior, she was Head Coordinator for WiSE and oversaw all the WiSE programs. Zahra was also one of the captains for the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team and was a member ARRR!!!, Brown’s pirate a cappella group. After Brown, Zahra will be heading to DC to intern at EARTH Magazine and plans to travel to East Africa in the Fall.

Srividya Kalyanaraman is from High Point, North Carolina and will receive a Bachelors of Art in English, Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry, and Bachelors of Science in Applied Math. In addition to working hard to complete three degrees, Srividya was a Meiklejohn Advisor, Community Assistant, and a member of Res Council. A compassionate advisor to female students, Srividya was also a Women Peer Counselor and a Sarah Doyle Women’s Center volunteer. Additionally, Srividya was actively involved with the Brown University Relaxation Project, Brown University Mediation Project, Late Night Fund, Interfaith House, and Women in Science and Engineering. Following commencement, Srividya will be pursuing a Ph.D. program or some form of graduate school.

Nicholas J. Leiserson is from North Haven, Connecticut and is graduating with a degree in Computer Science. During his time at Brown, Nick has been a leader in the Brown community. When student leaders were asked to volunteer to help form the Brown University Activities Council, Nick was the first to come forward and accepted the role as chair of the committee. Nick was also an active member of the Alumnae Hall Advisory Board, on which he was influential in the hall’s $250,000 renovation. A lover of music, particularly opera, Nick was involved with the Brown University Gilbert & Sullivan Society and Brown Opera Productions where he managed, produced and performed in many shows. Though his future plans are undecided, Nick is contemplating law school, public policy work and software engineering.

Nabanita Pal is a Development Studies concentrator from Gaithersburg, Maryland. She has been involved with Third World Center as a Minority Peer Counselor and a Minority Peer Counselor Coordinator. Neeta has also assisted with programming South Asian Identity Week and the South Asian Student Association’s lecture series. Neeta has been active in the Swearer Center for Public Service since she was a freshman. Specifically, she coordinated and taught a debate and public speaking class to incarcerated young women at the Rhode Island Training School, she servied as chairperson for the RI Right to Vote Campus Coalition and was a mentor and tutor in the city Girl’s Program. Next year, Neeta will be training in Odissi, an Indian classical dance form with a Fulbright creative arts grant. She will be studying the performance of gender through dance in Orissa, India.

James E. Reed III is from Providence, Rhode Island and will graduate with a dual degree in Psychology and Africana Studies. James is a three year member of Residential Council, and recently held the position of Chairperson. He has also been a writer and Editor-In-Chief of the Critical Review, Residential Peer Leader, a teaching assistant for the Psychology Department, a tutor and volunteer coordinator for the Providence Summerbridge Program, and a member of both the Africana Studies Departmental Undergraduate Group (DUG) and Psychology DUG. James was also a three-time recipient of a Jude Taylor scholarship. Following graduation, James will be attending the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work to pursue a MSW in Clinical Social Work with a focus on Mental Health.