Casey Feldman Foundation Proud of Scholarship Recipient, Alejandra Pedraza

Monday, October 30th, 2017

By Dianne Anderson*

Alejandra Pedraza  is a shining example of the kind of student that the Casey Feldman Foundation is proud to support through its Alternative Spring Break Scholarship program. This first generation college student and junior at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) was born in the United States by an immigrant mother who crossed the border from Mexico with Pedraza’s older sister in arms. According to Alejandra, “being born in this country is one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received.” Majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology as well as environmental studies, Alejandra hopes to one day become an environmental lawyer to protect the environment and advocate for people who are disproportionately impacted by unsound environmental practices.

“Being in college is a great privilege” and “one of the hardest and most fulfilling endeavors of my life,” says Pedraza, who takes immense pride in being the first in family to attend college and sees herself as a role model for her younger sister.“I make the most out of every day by constantly learning and participating in events and activities,” she adds.

A Daniels Scholar as the result of her exceptional character, leadership, and community service, Pedraza is grateful for the payment of her college tuition and fees. With no other financial support, she has worked throughout college to pay her living expenses and to send money to her hard working mother, who struggles to make ends meet. This leaves virtually no funding for the many extra programs, activities and leadership opportunities that she would like to participate in, something often taken for granted by other students.

One of these is the Alternative Breaks, a program of the Volunteer Resource Center at CU, which sends teams of college students to engage in community-based service projects during each college break, providing opportunities for students to learn about the problems faced by members of communities with whom they may otherwise have had little or no direct contact.

It was only through funding from the Casey Feldman Foundation that Pedraza was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Alternative Spring Break human trafficking trip this past spring in Miami, Florida. The host for the students in Miami was The Life of Freedom Center, a community resource that offers free support and restorative programs for female survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking and works toward ending human trafficking both locally and throughout the United States.

The experience was an immersive educational experience for Alejandro and her fellow volunteers who learned about this $32 billion industry and  how to identify and respond to human trafficking in their own community.  Much of Alejandra’s time and energy is focused on the environment and she was eager, as a student leader, to learn about this critical and heartbreaking issue. “This trip really helped bring the concept of human trafficking closer to home. A lot of the things I witnessed in Miami can easily be witnessed throughout the streets of Denver. I simply had never put two and two together,” said Alejandro.

Part of Alejandra’s week was spent volunteering her services at a safe house for human trafficking victims where she performed landscaping work to make the entrance more attractive.” I loved doing this,” said Alejandra, “because I was able to actually contribute to the cause with my own hard work. Casey Feldman was a champion of human rights and by participating in this trip, I took a step in the same direction.”

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Dianne (R) and Casey, Christmas 2006

 

*Dianne Anderson  is the mother of the late Casey Feldman and co-founder of The Casey Feldman Foundation.

 

Scholarship Recipient Volunteers in Aftermath of Louisiana Flood

Friday, October 27th, 2017

By Jacinda Romo*

University of Colorado (CU)  sophomore, Juwan Harris is a 2017 Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipient. Majoring in integrative physiology with a certificate in public health, Harris hopes to one day become a trauma surgeon and work with Doctors Without Borders. A Colorado native who enjoys Boulder’s culture and atmosphere,  Juwan’s compassion for others has propelled him into extensive community service,  which has included volunteering at the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House and the Denver Soup Kitchen.

Juwan is one of three brothers raised by a single mom who battled constant financial instability. He was the recipient of a Daniels Fund 4-year college scholarship as the result of his exceptional character, leadership, and community service.  Despite his childhood memories of hardship,  Juwan sees himself as quite fortunate and feels that the daily issues that he faces are trivial in comparison to those who are genuinely struggling. This motivates him to want help others experience the “chance at a life and a future.”

Juwan was part of a group of CU student volunteers this spring who participated in the “Natural Disasters and Rebuilding” Alternative Spring Break trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A stipend from the Casey Feldman Foundation covered Juwan’s expenses for the trip to Baton Rouge to help in the aftermath of catastrophic flooding which occurred in August, 2016. Thousands of homes and businesses had been submerged in waters and Harris volunteerred with a local organization that rebuilt homes for those who were physically and financially unable to do so themselves. Starting at 7 am each morning, Juwan worked on the home of a man who was confined to a wheelchair and living in a makeshift trailer on his property. Juan’s labor included removing moldy insulation and ultimately, repainting the entire home.

Juwan was able to get to know the grateful homeowner, who he described as “the most genuine, caring, and humorous man I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting,”  adding that “southern hospitality is a real thing… I helped him not because I had to or because I signed up for the trip but because after meeting him the first day I felt as though I needed to help him. He was the driving force of why I woke up every morning that week at 7 am to work all day.”

“I feel like whenever a natural disaster happens it’s so easy to post a status about praying for that city or to post about donating $1….Being physically present and helping the cause hands-on is so much more meaningful,” said Juwan.

Since 2010, the Casey Feldman Foundation has provided funding for some 5 to 10 college students annually to participate in an Alternative Spring Break trip. To continue to make this scholarship stipend possible and enable students to experience the joy and gratification of volunteer service, please DONATE here.

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*Jacinda Romo is a current sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in political science with a minor in leadership and ethnic studies.  She plans to influence others through education and empathy as she pursues a career in social justice and civic engagement.

Alternative Spring Break Scholarship Winner Katie Heinen Works With the Navajo

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

By Morgan Steward

katie heinen

Katie Heinen

Business marketing major, Katie Heinen, a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder, has had a passion for community service since she was 12 years old.  Through a Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship, she was able to further pursue this passion at the Dine Reservation in Arizona where she worked with Navaho youth during her weeklong spring break.

Heinen has spent the last several years of her life serving others in their communities. “My service experience began in 6th grade, and since then service has been a key part of my life, giving me encouragement and strength every day,” Heinen said. Her service trips all have different objectives, varying from working with elderly individuals who have Alzheimer’s to tutoring underprivileged children. She has even traveled as far as Nicaragua to help those in need.

“I am completely on my own to pay for these trips,” says Heinen. “When I went to Nicaragua, I did everything I could to make money through extra jobs and fundraising. It was the most humbling experience to have people support me like that.”

katie 2

Heinen on her service trip to Nicaragua

Among the many service projects she has taken part in, Heinen remembers one incident in particular that changed her life. While Heinen was in high school, she would spend every Tuesday evening working with homeless individuals in Chicago. While working at this shelter, Heinen became very close with one inhabitant in particular—a man named Joseph. Joseph eventually opened up to Katie about his life-long addiction to drugs and alcohol and struggle to stay sober. One Tuesday, Heinen could not find Joseph in the shelter. After keeping an eye open for him all night, she eventually saw him and headed over to talk.

“I looked over and saw Joseph sitting down, looking very distraught. I walked over to him, gave him a hug, and asked him what was wrong. His next few words are some that I will never forget. ‘I almost drank tonight and did drugs. I was so close to doing it. But then I thought of you, and I stayed strong,’” Heinen recalled. “ This moment has changed me forever, and has encouraged me to always stick with my passion for service. I may have left an impact on Joseph, but the way he impacted me was more than I could ever write in words.”

On her Foundation sponsored spring break trip this year, Heinen stayed on the Dine Reservation in Teec Nos Pos.  The initial goal of the project was to help support youth health by promoting outdoor activity, but after getting to talk to the young people, that goal soon changed. “Once we met with the high school students, we learned that many of the juniors and seniors were incredibly unprepared for college,” Heinen said.

“After we learned this information, we had group discussions with a private school that we were working with, a public school on the reservation, and even visited a college on the reservation to gain more information to provide to the students. We gave the students time to ask us any questions they had and discuss further the possibility of their future, including a college education,” Heinen explained.  Heinen and her fellow volunteers then spent time helping the students prepare their college applications. The experience “opened my eyes to the struggles of living on a reservation to more than just the stereotypes of poverty, mental illness, alcoholism, and domestic violence.”

Heinen feels incredibly grateful for the opportunities the Casey Feldman Foundation gave her. “I think about this trip often; the people I met, the things I experienced, and simply how blessed I am to have everything in my life,” she said. “After reading about all of Casey’s passions for service, I felt as though I could relate to her…and would have loved to get the chance to pick her brain about all of the injustices of the world,” Heinen said.

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morgan-steward2-1-150x150*Morgan Steward is a sophomore Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media. She is the Arts & Culture Co-Editor of The Observer, Fordham’s student newspaper (where Casey was the News Editor).

Bryan O’Hagan is Awarded the Latest Computer Science Scholarship to Aid a Non-Profit

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Morgan Steward*

Bryan O'Hagan (seated center) with Casey's parents and Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients Cynthia Mendoza (R) and Katie Heinen

Bryan O”Hagan (seated center) with Casey’s parents and Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients Cynthia Mendoza (R) and Katie Heinen

Bryan O’Hagan, a University of Colorado Boulder student, is the latest recipient of a Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation computer science scholarship. The scholarship provides a stipend to a student to provide computer and IT services to a non-profit organization which does not  have the funds necessary to meet the technology needs necessary to advance their mission. It gives the student the opportunity to practice his or her computer science and IT skills in a real-world setting and at the same time, experience the joy of community service.

“I enjoy working for organizations that promote a strong social cause,” O’Hagan explained. This is what initially enticed him to apply for the Foundation’s computer science scholarship in the first place.

O’Hagan first became interested in computer programming and web development after taking a course in the subject at the University of Colorado. “I instantly fell in love [with] the endless possibilities a developer can create on the web,” O’Hagan explained. With this newfound passion discovered, he then became determined to find an internship in the field in an effort to continue to develop the skills he learned in this class.

O’Hagan chose to work for Natural Capitalism Solutions, a company that educates senior decision-makers in business, government and civil society about the principles of sustainability.  The Longmont, Colorado company does this by creating practical tools and simple implementation strategies for companies, communities and countries.

During his internship, O’Hagan was able to learn several valuable industry skills. “I was able to learn so much,” O’Hagan explained. “I [got] a better understanding of industry tools, coding languages, and web development techniques.”

However, O’Hagan also learned a different valuable skill set: communication skills. Through this position, O’Hagan was charged with working directly with clients to provide them the technological services they required. “This was my first experience where I had to work with a client,” he said. “I enjoyed the process of brainstorming ideas, creating a plan, and finally creating a website that both the customer and I enjoyed.”

In total, O’Hagan redesigned three of Natural Capitalism Solution’s websites—a task that the company would not have been able to do without him.

Participating in this program made O’Hagan realize that he wished to pursue web development and computer services as a career after he graduates from the University of Colorado Boulder.

“The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation Computer Science Program is one of the highlights of my college career,” O’Hagan said. “I hope other students can find their passion through this program.”

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morgan-steward2-1-150x150*Morgan Steward is a sophomore Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media.

“It’s a Great Day to Be Alive…” Cynthia Mendoza, 2016 Foundation Scholarship Recipient

Monday, November 14th, 2016

By Morgan Steward

Cynthia MendozaCynthia Mendoza seems to have her life figured out. A 2016 graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Mendoza obtained a certificate in public health while double majoring in both Integrative Physiology and Psychology and is currently in the process of applying to dental school. But what ties these four fields together? Mendoza’s desire to make a difference in her community and help others. This passion made Mendoza the perfect recipient of the 2016 Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship.

Growing up in a household where her father worked two jobs while her mother stayed at home and cared for the kids, Mendoza was aware that money was always tight, yet never felt as if she was missing anything. “I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving family where not having much really did not feel like a burden. Growing up in a low-income family made me appreciate everything and not take anything for granted,” Mendoza explained.

Although this situation forced Mendoza to grow up quickly, it left her able to truly understand and appreciate all that she had in life. “… Everything has taught me something special. I have strong values that are so important to me, such as the importance of giving, loving and caring for others—things that I would have not really understood if it was not for my upbringing.”

Choosing to live life by the philosophy that “It’s a great day to be alive,” Mendoza  tries to “take every day as a blessing.” It was this mantra, in conjunction with her upbringing that influenced Mendoza to want to spend the rest of her life serving others.

Her career of service began in college, where she served as a medical assistant, phlebotomy tech in the university’s medical clinic, and Co-President of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc., a sorority which helps promote education and community service. “The ability to be part of people’s memories and help influence them to help their communities, like I was, is something I hope to do for others,” Mendoza explained. “[The] little things may be the biggest impact people will hold in their hearts for a lifetime.”

When Mendoza applied for the 2016 Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship, her  genuine love for serving others made her the ideal candidate. With the scholarship, she was able to spend a week in Atlanta, Georgia, volunteering with the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, an organization which is devoted to improving the quality of life for individuals affected with HIV/AIDS in communities with limited resources.

“My time in Atlanta left a huge mark in my heart,” Mendoza explained.  “I learned so much from this wonderful experience!” The week-long service trip was spent doing a variety of tasks including making and distributing HIV kits to impoverished neighborhoods, informing individuals how to prevent spreading and contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and assisting in needle exchanges. Volunteers were also able to go on tours of Aid Atlanta and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about the issues plaguing not only Atlanta, but the rest of the world.

“[The trip] greatly reinforced my commitment to work in the healthcare field,” Mendoza said. “I am very passionate about health and helping different communities with health disparities seen worldwide. I… hope to one day apply what I have learned to socially disadvantaged populations.”

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morgan-steward2-1-150x150Morgan Steward is a sophomore Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media.

 

 

“ I want to help others in any way that I can” – Vi-Thuy Vo, Scholarship Recipient

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

By Adriana Gallina*

Thuyvi VoVi-Thuy Vo is currently a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder. While she is still deciding whether to go into high school counseling or join the public health field, there’s one thing she is sure about: “What I want to actually do in life, is help others in any way that I can.”

“I am proud to be a first generation student who works hard to create my own path for success in my family,” Vi-Thuy wrote. While she loves her family and continues to be a role model for her sister thirteen years her junior, she is financially independent.

Her selflessness and devotion to serving others is what made this psychology major the perfect recipient for the 2015 Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship. The scholarship allowed her to take part in the Harm Reduction: Promoting Health and Prevention Trip based in Atlanta Georgia.

Receiving this scholarship helped relieve some of the monetary burden of volunteering and allowed her to “provide direct service to those who need it most.”

On her trip she worked with four groups, one being the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Another group was Aniz, Inc, which offers support, counseling and HIV testing to those in need. Ana’s spring break trip also took her to the the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition (AHRC) a wellness organization that focuses on the health of marginalized communities and  the Shepard Center, a rehabilitation center that helps people with a temporary or permanent disability caused by injury or disease.

Vi-Thuy was most excited to work in a new environment with people from diverse backgrounds.

She learned a lot from the Shephard Center about how to interact and work with people with disabilities. “Alternative Breaks definitely made me appreciate how privileged I am,” Vi-Thuy said.

“I worked with two different communities in Atlanta to reduce harm especially with sexual health disparities, which include HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, Hepatitis and other diseases,” she said.

“Working with the AHRC, I learned so much more about public health in different environments and how important it is to adapt to that environment and community you’re working with,”  Vi-Thuy said.

“Being on this trip also reminded me about the different levels people are at and how important it is to be mindful and use all-inclusive language,” she reflected.

Vi-Thuy said she came back from this trip with much more knowledge and a new appreciation for the communities she is a part of.

With this experience, she pledged, “I will continue to help promote and educate the health and wellness topics that matter to our community here at Boulder.”

At Boulder, she continues her work at Community Health, which is the public health division of Wardenburg Health Center which provides health care for all CU students.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.

Related Links:

Alternative Spring Break Scholarships Fostering a Generation Who Wants to Give Back –  Nov 2014, Casey Feldman Foundation

About the Alternative Spring Break Program (CU Volunteer Resource Center)

Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down for all articles)

Vi-Thuy Vo and her fellow CU students at the Center fo Disease Control in Atlanta

Vi-Thuy Vo and her fellow CU students at the Center fo Disease Control in Atlanta

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Adriana Gallina updated*Adriana Gallina is currently studying Journalism at Fordham College Lincoln Center on a scholarship. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the award winning paper, The Fordham Observer, while working full time to support herself in New York City.

Freda Fosu: Working Towards a Homeless Free America

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

By Adriana Gallina and Amber Staska *

Freda Fosu

Freda Fosu

Freda Odei Fosu is one of those rare individuals who genuinely inspires others to remain optimistic despite life’s hardship. Through her own moments of adversity, she never once turned down an opportunity to give back to her community–even in times where she could have used the help herself.

“Since I can relate to people in unfortunate circumstances so well, I’m empathetic to their situations and have the compassion and dedication to offer help,” Freda said. Her empathy and dedication to others is what made her stand out as a recipient of the 2015 Alternative Spring Break scholarship made possible by the Casey Feldman Foundation.

Freda moved to New York City in 2009 from Ghana, where she then resided in a homeless shelter with her family. “I experienced lots of hardships during this time, in extreme poverty [which made] basic needs hard to afford and exposed me to lots of violence in my neighborhood,” Freda remembers. “In my neighborhood, [I] feared every living moment.”

Her own journey through hardship motivated her to reach out to those in similar situations, where she has taken multiple opportunities to volunteer in areas of education, shelter, youth and fundraising for various causes. That’s why instead of binging Netflix or heading to the beach, she chose to spend her spring break volunteering with the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, a unified social action agency that is committed to the eradication of homelessness.

Freda reflected on her project, saying, “I have learned to recognize homeless people in the streets, to treat them with kindness and respect because they value that just as much as a donation.”

She also learned about systematic means of oppression and cycles like, gentrification. Gentrification is the process by which the poor are displaced from their neighborhoods by the upper class. Typically, this pushes the poor further away from job opportunities, public transportation and moves them into food deserts.

Freda Fosu and her fellow CU students in Atlanta

Freda Fosu and her fellow CU students in Atlanta

“This was the most enlightening experience I have ever had,” Freda reflected. “This group was full of such amazing, positive people and through them I learned that I have the ability to use my strength to make a difference.”

Through GCHC, Freda also helped free food services like, The Sarah Center Soup Kitchen, Christ Church Cathedral and the St. Joseph Catholic Worker House. The latter specifically helps addicts battle addiction and lead them to career paths. Other organizations she contributed to while in Cincinnati included, the Bethany House, helping kids of homeless mothers; Tender Mercies, a shelter for people with mental illness; and the Freestore Foodbank, where people who didn’t have the means could shop limited amount of goods for free.

“I’m hopeful, that me, along with other good people, can contribute to reducing homelessness in the United States and I have this trip to thank for that confidence and strength,” Freda said.

Freda continues to volunteer for CU Boulder Community Health, where she works to promote the health and wellness of the Boulder students. The community projects include sex health, stress management, education of the risks involved with tobacco/marijuana use, prescription medication and drug overdose prevention.

“I want to take every small opportunity to help in overcoming our struggles because I know that with every little effort I put into helping my community, someone is overcoming a struggle,” Freda said. “And that is a satisfaction I want to live with for the rest of my life.”

Please donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that additional students may experience the rewards of an  Alternative Spring Break.

Related  Link:

“Alternative Spring Break Scholarships Fostering a Generation Who Wants to Give Back“,   Nov. 2014  (Casey Feldman Foundation) 

About the Alternative Spring Break Program (CU Volunteer Resource Center)

Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down for all articles)

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amber*Amber Staska studied business management and graduated cum laude at West Chester University. She was a best friend of Casey’s since the 4th grade; they enjoyed many adventures together, especially, summers in Sea Isle. Currently, she pursues a career with Aqua Pharmaceuticals in West Chester as a Senior Sales Operations Analyst and maintains her passion for music on the side when time permits.

 

 

Adriana Gallina updated*Adriana Gallina is currently studying Journalism at Fordham College Lincoln Center on a scholarship. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the award winning paper, The Fordham Observer, while working full time to support herself in New York City.

Anthropology Major Breaks from Classes but Not Volunteerism during Gentrification Trip

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

By Jackie Fedeli*

Penelope Baggs

Penelope Baggs

“Sometimes, a positive conversation about someone’s future can be all it takes for them to realize their potential.” This is what University of Colorado (CU) Boulder student Penelope Baggs learned last spring during a university-sponsored gentrification trip to San Francisco that would not have been possible without the Casey Feldman Foundation.

The anthropology major was a 2015 Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipient.  The scholarship made it possible for her to study the effects of gentrification on individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds who could not keep up with the rising rent prices brought on by the San Francisco tech boom.

The scholarship also allowed Penelope to continue her mission of helping those less fortunate – a mission that she accepted when she was a little girl and her mom taught her to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

What started out as respect for animals and all living creatures grew tenfold when 16 year-old Penelope took part in a mission trip to Uganda to improve the quality of life for a local village. She assisted in the organization of sports day at a local orphanage and provided food and clothing to those in dire need. She also assisted in the construction of a well, which made water more accessible to the local community.

Penelope continued her mission during her college career.  She started out volunteering at a soup kitchen, and took it one step further when she began collecting leftover meals from her dorm to distribute to the area’s homeless.  When she studied abroad, she spent her free time helping patients in a dialysis hospital in Spain.

During the gentrification trip, Penelope and her classmates learned first-hand about the daily struggle to meet basic needs that many families face.  They worked with a local church to serve breakfast to residents suffering from food insecurity, joined a local food outreach group to deliver food directly to those in need, and bagged rice at Marin Food Bank. Penelope and her peers helped feed more than 400 families in less than one day.

Penelope doesn’t spend her time volunteering because it is a great resume builder. She does it because she believes she was born with the tools to meet her basic needs and therefore, it is her social responsibility to level the field for those less-fortunate. “I hope to one day join a team who make significant progress with social issues on a day to day basis,” said Penelope.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.

Related Links:

“Alternative Spring Break Scholarships Fostering a Generation Who Wants to Give Back“,   Nov. 2014  (Casey Feldman Foundation) 

About the Alternative Spring Break Program (CU Volunteer Resource Center)

Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down through for all articles)

Penelope and her fellow CU students during a break in San Francisco for a group shot

Penelope and her fellow CU students during a break in San Francisco for a group shot

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Jackie_Fedeli_pic*Jackie Fedeli studied marketing at Temple University. She began her career with the Philadelphia law firm of Anapol Weiss where she was a colleague of Casey Feldman’s father, Joel. She recently joined the Digital Delivery team at a global professional services company that focuses on advisory, broking and risk management.

 

 

What has Kailee Caranta been up to? Update on Foundation 2013 scholarship recipient

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Kailee Francesca Caranta croppedBy Dianne L. Anderson*

Kailee Carnata was a sophomore environmental studies major working two jobs to put herself through the University of Colorado Boulder when she received a Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship in 2013 to study poverty and serve meals to the needy in San Francisco. “My experience going to San Francisco on an alternative spring break is definitely what inspired me to travel, continue to volunteer my time to causes I support, and follow my passions,” stated Kailee.

Kailee continued varied community service work and graduated in May 2015 with a BA in Environmental Studies and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology as well a certificate in Digital Media. She is currently a PPC Analyst at Metric Theory in Denver where she services over 35 clients in their internet search engine marketing needs optimizing their online advertising efforts.

After graduating and before working at Digital Media, Kailee worked at the Denver Zoo in 2015 as a Summer Safari Instructor where she worked with 2nd and 3rd graders teaching the children about the environment and conservation.

“ I loved my job at the zoo,” stated Kailee.  “The kids feel so hopeful for the future and are willing to help the animals. It makes me so proud to teach them.” Kailee plans on continuing to volunteer in the education department at the zoo while she works in her new post-grad position at Metric Theory.

Way to go Kailee Caranta!

Help other deserving students receive a Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship and donate today.

Related Links:

The Faces – 2013’s Alternative Spring Break Scholarship Recipients, May 11, 2013 – Casey Feldman Foundation Blog

Kailee Caranta climbed her first 14er in 2015

Kailee Caranta climbed her first 14er in 2015

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Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

PIIE Scholarship Internship at Women’s Health Center Reinforces Recipient’s Desire to Pursue a Medical Career

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

By Gail Roth*

Ramya

Ramya Palaniappan

University of Colorado, Boulder 2015 Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) scholarship recipient Ramya Palaniappan’s experience working as Development Event Assistant at the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center was transformative and may prove to be life changing. Ramya, a senior Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology major who will receive her Bachelor of Arts in May, 2016 applied for a scholarship through the Casey Feldman Foundation to be able to intern with a non-profit organization that provides accessible health care to lower income families. With newly gained insight into how medical centers can provide integrated and holistic approaches to health care, especially in ob/gyn and women’s health, along with a greater awareness of the part that advocacy and social justice play in our complex and expansive health care system, Ramya believes she will pursue her career in this public interest area.

While learning many new skills and enhancing her general experience in the non-profit arena, Ramya felt it was a privilege to work in a positive environment which preached the value of “empowerment for all individuals.” Raised by a single parent with a sibling in medical school, who is paying her own way through college, receiving the scholarship enabled Ramya to plan for her future, including taking the MCATs or GREs, applying to graduate or medical schools and travelling to investigate post graduate opportunities.

During her internship Ramya worked on substantive projects including Condom Couture solicitations, public speaking on the Center’s work in women’s health as well as the specific health care issues confronted by the population served by the Center. She participated in a Women Powering Change conference and researched how organizations create inclusiveness so that the community the Center seeks to serve can have its needs met. She also conducted grants research and constructed a patient survey.

Ramya learned an enormous amount about women’s health and its position in the social and political realm in the United States. In fact, the experience was so impactful that she will continue volunteering at the Center. While the internship focused on the development side of the organization, with her deepened understanding of the impact of health on individuals, she believes she will seek a career after graduation in the medical field relating to reproductive health and women’s issues.

The Public Interest Internship Experience for students at The University of Colorado Boulder began in 2005 and provides students with  paid summer internships at a government agency or non-profit, organizations that may not otherwise be able to provide compensation. The Casey Feldman Foundation has funded one student per year since 2010, following Casey’s death in 2009.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that additional students may experience the rewards of a Public Interest Internship (PIIE) internship.

PIIE 2015

Ramya Palaniappan (center) with past PIIE Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship recipients, Colin Mayberry (L) – The Nature Conservancy, 2013 & Dylan Mark – Boulder Valley Humane Society, 2012 at the Feldman home in August

Related Links:

I Have a Dream – “This was the best and most beneficial summer of my life”   (Ellie Roberts PIIE 2014)

PIIE Scholarship Recipient Aids Non-Profit Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center (Lynette Schweimler PIIE 2011)

PIIE Awards First Casey Feldman Memorial Scholarship (Mercedes Ruiz PIIE 2010)

 

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gail roth*Gail Roth is an attorney with Bookspan Family Law in Radnor, PA.  Having also experienced the traumatic loss of a loved one, Gail  focuses her practice on helping clients move through difficult transitions and building happier futures. She is a former colleague of Casey’s father, Joel Feldman.