By Kate Rix
An award that promotes hope and idealism, the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize is given to graduating Berkeley seniors with plans for making the world a better place. From a pool of more than 50 applicants, four 2009 graduates received the award this year, the fourth year of the prize program. Each of them will be using the award money to make a difference, whether close to home or far away.
Emma Crane plans to build literacy and political representation in Southern Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras by offering writing workshops for indigenous girls and young women. Jonathan Lee intends to continue work on a rural community health project in Honduras. Everardo Mora will study the Farandula culture of cannery workers in the Santa Clara Valley. William Ching plans to create a new HIV/AIDS education and prevention guide tailored to youth of color.
The Stronach Prize supports intellectual and creative pursuits that enhance social awareness and the public good. Graduating seniors propose projects that are creative in the broadest sense, building on their undergraduate studies at Berkeley to work on what constitutes humane and effective participation in our worldwide community. Prize recipients are selected by a panel of faculty, researchers, and artists and are granted as much as $25,000 each to cover project costs, materials, and living expenses for up to one year.
“The Stronach Prize brings together two of the most cherished Berkeley traditions: intellectual excellence and social activism,” says Tyler Stovall, dean of the Undergraduate Division of the College of Letters and Science. “The winners represent our campus at its best, showing how Berkeley undergraduates can use their knowledge, hard work, and commitment to change the world.”
Established by Berkeley professor of architecture Raymond Lifchez, the Stronach Prize celebrates the achievements of his late wife. Trained in art history, Judith Lee Stronach was a journalist for Amnesty International, an East Bay poetry teacher, and a patron of numerous arts, education, and charitable organizations. The Stronach Prize commemorates her commitment to lifelong intellectual and creative growth.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor Judith Lee Stronach’s life work, and we are very grateful to Ray Lifchez for giving our students this wonderful opportunity,” Stovall says. “Ray is clearly devoted to student research in the service of social change, and he also sees the Stronach prize as an important educational experience for students, empowering them to use their knowledge for the public good.”
Indigenous Women’s Media and Poetry Project
Guatemala, Honduras and the southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca are among the poorest areas in the Western Hemisphere. Literacy rates are low while maternal mortality rates are high. In these areas, indigenous people are economically marginalized and indigenous women and girls are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have access to media and literacy than men.
Emma Crane is an Interdisciplinary Studies Field major with an emphasis on race, gender and development. Collaborating with five organizations located in the areas she plans to work, Crane proposes to offer community media workshops, including basic radio journalism, computer literacy, sound editing and production, and digital photography. Group projects will range from public service announcements on issues affecting women and girls to oral history projects. Poetry workshops will center on autobiographical and witness poetry, with an emphasis on development of self-expression.
Crane herself spent part of her childhood in Chiapas and witnessed as a child the Zapatista Insurrection of 1994. Before enrolling at Berkeley, she completed an eight-month internship with an independent media and education organization with programs throughout Latin America—an organization with which she plans to collaborate for this project.
“Community media is media created to allow individuals to tell their own stories and have the conversations necessary for their own self-directed development as citizens,” writes Crane, the University Medalist and a Fulbright scholarship recipient. “Poetry is a potent tool to develop literacy and self-confidence.”
Community Health in Honduras: Preventing Disease, Guarding Your Health
Public Health major Jonathan Lee has been working on a rural community health project for a year. His project expands on work done in the Global Medical Brigades (GMB), a not-for-profit that serves some 50 rural communities in Honduras.
His project has two main components: health education and community health worker training. The educational component is planned to take place during temporary day-clinics set up by GMB. Up to 800 patients are seen and treated each day and, as part of Lee’s project, will include 15-minute seminars about hygiene, sanitation, household water treatment, and the importance of these strategies in preventing pneumonia and diarrhea.
The community health worker training program will train local residents to take the lead in sustaining their community’s healthcare by providing basic services. These services will include basic clinical skills such as taking blood pressure, measuring blood glucose levels, basic diagnostics and referral to the nearest clinic.
“The community health workers’ most important job will be as educators, helping others build on their own ideas and making new discoveries for themselves to better understand their health and livelihoods,” states Lee.
Quality Fruit, Quality People, Quality Tamales: The Story of Del Monte Cannery 3’s Farandula and Voices from the Shop Floor
“When I was a kid,” writes American Studies major Everardo Mora, “I hated Del Monte’s red tomato ‘Shield.’ I couldn’t understand why my dad wore his green baseball cap with the red tomato ‘Shield’ everywhere he went.”
Mora, who grew up in San Jose and whose immigrant Mexican father supported his family by working in the Del Monte cannery, eventually came to understand his father’s pride and also what made the cannery itself significant.
Farandula describes the culture of the cannery floor, the way the workers brought their Latin American culture, language, food ways, dress and decoration, and strong family values to their work. Farandula remains an important and unexplored aspect of the cannery’s cultural legacy. With his award funds, Mora plans to create a narrative infused with the oral histories of former cannery workers in order to raise public awareness of this unique Latino workforce.
Mora sees his project as extending that of other research. Cannery life in the Santa Clara Valley has been documented by others, but Mora plans to enrich this work by exploring issues of diversity, language and literacy, and identity construction.
“Because of my family background, bilingualism, and first-hand experience with ‘cannery culture,’” writes Mora, “my proposed project will strengthen our understanding of the cultural contributions of the Farandula to American culture.”
HIV Youth Project
In spite of recent anti-HIV/AIDS awareness and sexual health campaigns, youth continue to contract HIV at disproportionately higher rates than the general population. Ethnic Studies major William Ching plans to create a new education and prevention guide targeting youth and tailored to the life experiences of HIV-positive youth, women and communities of color.
Ching plans to use relevant media outlets, including multimedia and electronic modes to collect stories of HIV-positive people. He plans to conduct interviews and weave them in with creative testimonials and sexual health education to create a singular guide.
Young adults of color are one of the groups most susceptible to infection. By engaging and involving HIV-positive youth, Ching hopes to facilitate a broader, more comprehensive conversation on sex, sexuality and the disease itself by humanizing the condition.
Ching plans to contact individuals and organizations working on HIV/AIDS prevention in the largest U.S. cities. He hopes to collaborate with these experts in developing and conducting the detailed questionnaire that will form the basis of his in-person interviews.
“By documenting the personal experiences of historically marginalized HIV-positive youth,” he writes, “the project will be another tool that lays the groundwork for a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to HIV/AIDS.”
For additional information about the Stronach Prize and this year's winners, please visit the prize website.