Immigrant Scholarship Recipient Hopes to Pursue a Medical Career

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

By Morgan Steward*


Our Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipient, Gabriela Solano Serna has had to overcome many challenges in her young life. Emigrating from Mexico at age 10, Gabriela and her family left behind everything in order to start a new life in the United States. Unable to receive any government aid, including food stamps, medical care or scholarships through FAFSA, Gabriela and her family have struggled to make ends meet. But, instead of discouraging Gabriela, it has motivated her to volunteer in her community to make a difference for those facing hardships like her family.

The Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship stipend enabled Gabriela to travel to Atlanta last year over her spring break to work with the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition (AHRC). The alternative spring break trip was one of many organized by the Volunteer Resource Center at the University of Colorado Boulder where Gabriela is a student. The AHRC  works to build relationships with individuals who are either suffering from or in danger of contracting HIV/AIDS, STD’s and Hepatitis Viruses and is the only comprehensive harm reduction program in the entire state of Georgia.

During her week in Atlanta, Gabriela did a lot of hands-on work with the coalition in underprivileged communities and visited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn about the long-term benefits of the work she just participated in. One activity in particular stood out to Gabriela—a needle exchange. A needle exchange is a program that provides drug users with clean needles to prevent them from sharing and re-using contaminated needles, thus drastically lowering the chance of spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS.

“We helped distribute and make safety packs, which [are handed out] to individuals during the needle exchange in a poor community known as the ‘Bluff,’” Gabriela explained.  “After visiting and interacting with individuals from this neighborhood, I was able to see the unprivileged side of the community and learn how the state plays a role in helping the community.”

“I would say that this opportunity helped me—it was definitely an eye opener, but [also] a motivation to pursue a career in the medical field,” Gabriela explained. She hopes to use her talents to become an Obstetrician Gynecologist to honor her sister who passed away in Mexico due to the lack of medical attention.

So what does this remarkable scholarship recipient hope to accomplish in the future? “I am passionate about providing medical care to those in the US that struggle every day to sustain families and who do not have as much access to adequate medical assistance, public benefits (like Medicare) or health care insurance as other privileged groups do,” Gabriela said. As an undocumented immigrant herself, Gabriela’s future plans also include opening a clinic to provide medical assistance, regardless of the patients’ immigration status.


morga -steward*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).

The Faces of our 2018 Alternative Spring Break Scholarship Recipients

Friday, March 30th, 2018

By Dianne Anderson*

Spring break is underway at many colleges in the nation. Our University of Colorado Boulder scholarship recipients are off on their Alternative Spring Break – volunteering in various parts of the U.S., with funding made possible through the Casey Feldman Foundation. Take a look at these outstanding young people.

Jaela Zellers

Jaela Zellers – Jaela is a junior majoring in integrative physiology with a double minor in Spanish and women and gender studies, with the hopes of becoming a physician.  A native of Georgia, Jaela has consistently worked 3-4 part-time jobs while taking 18 credit hours per semester. Despite her own hardships at home, sometimes not knowing where her next meal would come from, Jaela has managed to help others through filling boxes of food for the needy or helping build a home through Habitat for Humanity. Zaela works at the Volunteer Resource Center on campus and is currently organizing a service project focused on women’s empowerment for the Better Boulder Day of Service. Jaela’s Alternative Spring Break is in environmental conservation where she is working to protect the habitat and build trails on Catalina Island, CA.

Nicole Fernandez-Perez


Nicole Fernandez-Perez – Nicole is a senior and a first generation college student majoring in psychology and minoring in ethnic studies. She currently works with Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) in Boulder where she supports survivors of domestic violence. Nicole is also a part of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc.,  where she works to preserve Latina culture in the Latino communities near the CU campus. Nicole is participating in the Disability Advocacy Spring Break Trip in Springfield, Missouri where she is working with a non-profit that focuses on building self-esteem, self confidence and social skills in children and adults with disabilities through education, sports training and competition.


Jose “Santos” Navarro

Jose “Santos” Navarro –  Santos, a first-generation American, is a freshman majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology with ultimate hopes of working one day in the Astrobiology Institute at  NASA. Throughout high school, Santos was an outdoor counselor who helped at-risk 5th graders from schools in troubled areas. Often, his biggest responsibility there was to simply be a source of support for the children by listening and hearing their stories. Santos’ Alternative Spring Break has taken him to Houston, TX where he is working in disaster relief, helping to rebuild homes and the community in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane which occurred last year. In looking forward to his week in Houston, Santos stated, “I can’t wait to represent CU Boulder and carry on the values of service through our actions.”

Tim Inthavong

Tim Inthavong –  Tim is a junior studying economics and business and hopes to work one day for a hospital as a health administrator. Tim is the child of a single refugee mother with four siblings and has always worked to help support his family. Despite this, Tim has found time to volunteer in and around his work and studies. Whether working with low income communities by teaching youth about the sciences, or volunteering on Saturdays at the Have A Heart food and clothing bank, Tim feels best when he can be of service to others. Tim’s Alternative Spring Break is taking place in New Orleans, LA where he is helping to rebuild homes for the needy. As he was leaving for the trip, Tim said, “I can’t wait to make a difference!”


Thank you Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients for making a difference in the lives of others! We look forward to hearing about your service work upon the completion of your trips!


Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006


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

Cassie Sprong Helps Young Boys Experience the Great Outdoors

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

By Jaela Zellers*

Cassie Sprong

University of Colorado Boulder Sophomore and Alternative Breaks participant Cassandra “Cassie” Sprong has been a major advocate for service work for many years of her life. From joining her high school’s Service Learning Club to going on an Alternative Spring Break Trip to Santa Cruz, California, Cassie is certainly no stranger to the joys of volunteering. She is currently a member of the CU Boulder Service Learning Club, which sends college students out to schools around Boulder to tutor native Spanish-speaking students. In her own words, Cassie believes that “Service is not ‘giving back’— rather, it’s working together to improve”.

Cassie’s passion for service work can be traced back to when she was around the age of 9 years old, during a very memorable experience in which she was walking around Denver with a friend and noticed that there were many individuals who were in need of some form of assistance, whether it was housing, food, shelter, or all of the above. Her solution to this was to make enough sack lunches to feed at least 20 people around that same area. The fact that such a simple gesture of humanity was able to improve the lives of so many less fortunate individuals in her own community gave Cassie the boost of confidence that she needed to make volunteering a life-long passion. This experience has led her to participate in even larger and more impactful service projects such as building a house for a low-income family with her high school Service Learning Club in Tijuana, Mexico.  At such a young age, she possessed an amazing sense of awareness of the injustices in the world around her as well as a desire to make that world a little better.

Cassie, who has always been inspired by her passion for biology and the environment, is currently majoring in Integrative Physiology. During the Spring of 2017, she was chosen as a recipient of the Casey Feldman Scholarship which allowed her to attend the Alternative Spring Break Trip that was focused on youth science education at YMCA Camp Campbell in CA. During her Alternative Spring Break trip, she and a group of about 9 other highly motivated and driven CU students spent their days hiking through the Redwood Forest and teaching 6th grade boys about the importance of preserving and respecting nature. One of her favorite elements of her trip was watching as those boys began to change their perspectives and take the environment a little more seriously over the course of just four days. Not only was she able to share with these boys her passion for science and learning, but she was also able to watch some of them experience the environment in its most natural form for the first time. For many of these boys, this was the first time that anyone had ever invested the time into taking them hiking and/or camping.

In addition to being a full time student, Cassie has also taken up a job as a hostess to make ends meet while she’s in college, due to having to be financially independent. With no monetary support from her family, Cassie sought out the Casey Feldman Scholarship as a means of helping her to take her love of service to the next level. With humanitarian views very similar to those shared by Casey Feldman, there are very few people more deserving of the scholarship.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that more students may experience the joys of service work over their college break.



*Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to get first-year students engaged in service work.

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.


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).

“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.”


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


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)


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


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


Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

Trip on Border Issues Forces Scholarship Recipient Charly Mendoza to Wrestle With Inner Past Demons

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Charly Mendoza

By Kelsey Butler*

For University of Colorado (CU) Boulder student Charly Mendoza, a Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship has helped him experience a “one of a kind” spring break trip.

Charly received a 2015 Alternative Spring Break (ASB) scholarship to study immigration issues in Arizona, which, according to the website, would help students “explore and understand the issues and challenges on both sides of the border.”

The trip is designed to be an “immersion experience to gain both understanding and awareness of immigrant and border issues and an opportunity to work towards justice.” During the program, students directly spoke with people along the border in Tuscon, Ariz., and Nogales, Mexico, impacted by the hot-button topic of immigration. The group also worked with organizations that construct water drops and help treat and prepare prospective border crossers and returnees.

charly mendoza 3

The border between Arizona and Mexico

Of the experience, Charly said, “Besides my personal interest in the issue, I had a blast being able to connect with such a diverse group of students who all shared a common ideal that every human no matter the skin they were has the right to live life without being harassed and killed in hatred.”

Charly said the scholarship from the foundation helped him “immensely” in overcoming the price tag of the trip, so he could learn about the actual reality of living on the border—later adding, “I’m so very grateful.”

He hopes to use the lessons learned on his alternative spring break in the immediate future as a leader of the same spring break trip he took last year, and eventually, once he graduates from CU, to accomplish a list of many ambitious goals. For Charly, who is double majoring in molecular, cellular, developmental biology and creative writing, these dreams include working in the pharmaceutical industry to combat genetic defects and harmful mutations, launching a writing career, and teaching high school or university students—perhaps back at CU.

charly mendoza 2

Water drop for immigrants

The journey has helped Charly, now a sophomore at CU, to build a support system with the other students he was able to travel with.

“The trip was one of kind to be honest,” he said. “Eleven strangers left at [4 a.m.] at the start of that spring break week and by the 7th day those same 11 came back changed for the better becoming more like family than friends. Personally, immigration hits very close to home to me so this trip was a bit more of me trying to wrestle with my inner past demons I had about [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] taking my dad away unjustly. Luckily I had 10 other shoulders to cry on and am now proud of calling them familia.”

All of our Alternate Spring Break scholarships are based upon financial need. Please donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other deserving students may experience an Alternative Spring Break.

Charly and his fellow CU classmates in AZ (Charlie -rear row, 2nd from L)

Charly and his fellow CU classmates in AZ (Charlie -rear row, 2nd from L)

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)



Kelsey (L) & Casey

*Kelsey Butler was one of Casey’s best friends and roommate at Fordham University. She works as a financial journalist in New York.