Six new MAD scholars arrive at Clark ready to make a difference

Back row, from left: Zohar Zimmerman, President David Angel, CEV Director Micki Davis, and Benjamin Walter. In front, from left: Alejandro Baez, Rebecca Liebman, and Cheyenne Wyzzard-Jones. Not pictured: Ashley Cooper.

Clark University welcomed six Making a Difference (MAD) Scholars at the start of the Fall semester.  The Making a Difference Scholarship is awarded to incoming First-Year students who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to social change.

The 2011-2012 recipients are:

Alejandro Baez, of New York, NY, is a former HIV/AIDS peer counselor who participated in leadership development training and performed outreach to at-risk, low income adolescents for HIV prevention.  Baez worked as a teacher at the Immaculate Conception Religious Education
Program in Astoria, NY, and as a camp counselor at Camp Speers-Eljabar in Dingmans Ferry, Penn.  He volunteered at the Manhattan Kids Club, the Sokol New York Gymnastics Program, at the Voices Against Brain Cancer Walk (formerly the “Have a Chance Walk”) and with the GO Project.

Ashley Cooper, of Boston, was a community organizer and volunteer for Boston’s Project HIP-HOP, which specializes in arts and activism training. She was a member of a street theater team that toured Boston performing “The War on Drugs.”  She also communicated with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for funding of drug rehabilitation in the Boston area.  Cooper did patient transport for Beth Israel Hospital and worked at The Beacon House (Partners HealthCare), at the Tenacity tennis camp and The City School. She was a Spoken Word Artist at the Urbano Project and organized open mic shows around Boston.

Rebecca Liebman, of South Windsor, Conn., served for 13 years in the Girl Scouts of America and received its highest honor, the Gold Award. She served two years as editor of her high school newspaper and was selected to attend the Maccabi ArtsFest (journalism specialty) program. She founded and served as president of an Environmental Club, and initiated the school recycling program and black-out hours, and planned an annual Earth-A-Palooza fair in her community. Liebman also won funding from the Keep CT Cool Competition which she used to fund the fair.

Cheyenne Wyzzard-Jones, of Cambridge, Mass., served as a certified conflict mediator, was a member of her high school’s award-winning theater group, and was founder and captain of its Step Team. She served as a member of the Minority Student Achievement Network as well as the Cambridge Kids Council, and mentored teens through Harvard University’s Leading and mentoring Program. Wyzzard-Jones also worked as a volunteer at the Union Baptist Church and was a member of Emerging Black Leaders, a group focused on issues young black teens face in today’s society.

Benjamin Walter, of Bloomington, Ill., worked as a peer educator for Planned Parenthood Illinois and attended a four-day training program in Washington, DC, on sexuality education advocacy.  He was the student representative and co-leader of his high school’s Gay Straight Alliance and served as the co-leader of the Students Embracing Diversity Club. Walter has also volunteered at the Salvation Army’s Safe Harbor as well at the Unitarian Universalist Church. He is an award-winning alto sax musician.

Zohar Zimmerman, of Greenbrae, Calif., worked in the Blind Leaders Innovation Program at Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, and received a Leadership
Fellowship Delegate position at the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities. He has served as a counselor-in-training at a camp for the blind and visually impaired, and has assisted elementary and middle school-aged children. Zimmerman also received an Award of Excellence for a documentary he created, he was selected to participate in a wilderness survival program (studying the water system of Calif.), and volunteered with Temple Rodef Sholom to rebuild homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

“The Class of 2015 Making a Difference Scholars arrived at Clark with a great deal of experience in working with community organizations and issues of social justice,” said Micki E. Davis, director of Clark’s Community Engagement and Volunteering Center (CEV). “The students are energetic, passionate and ready to get involved in the Worcester community. I look forward to their involvement in our community partnerships.”

Past recipients of Clark’s MAD scholarship have been involved with community service organizations, political action groups, human rights campaigns and for-profit and non-profit social entrepreneurship. Clark recognizes that change agents come from all backgrounds and offer a wide variety of valuable and compelling perspectives.  The thread that links scholarship recipients together is their dedication to using their talents and energy to make a difference.

The Making a Difference Scholarship is a $48,000 four-year scholarship ($12,000 per year). The scholarship includes a $2,500 taxable stipend and housing allowance to support an optional summer project that students may undertake in Worcester during the summer following their sophomore or junior year.

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