The Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize is awarded every year to a small number of UC Berkeley graduating seniors. The Stronach Prize enables students to design and implement projects that “further an understanding of what constitutes humane and effective participation in our worldwide community.” In this way, the Prize is an invitation for graduating seniors to reflect on the academic and life skills they have gained as undergraduates and galvanize them into social action.
The Stronach Prize was established in 2006 by Berkeley Architecture Professor Ray Lifchez to honor his late wife, Judith Stronach, an art historian, journalist, poet, and social activist. Ms. Stronach taught poetry in local schools, served as a journalist for Amnesty International, and worked tirelessly on human rights issues around the globe. The Stronach Prize was created to commemorate Ms. Stronach’s lifelong passion to affect social change.
Seniors in any field of study may apply for the Stronach Prize. This year’s six winners come from a wide variety of backgrounds, both academically and culturally, and all will use their award money to improve peoples’ lives, both here in the United States and around the world. As a group, they employ the creative tools of dance, social media, storytelling, creative writing, fine art, film and video, and a scientific “toolbox.” What follows is a brief profile of each of the six Stronach Prize winners for 2012.
Ms. Ahmad, an Interdisciplinary Studies Field major in International Health and Development and Global Poverty and Practice minor, will continue the work she has already begun on Feeding Forward, a project that seeks to address the problem of hunger in America by using social media tools to supply perishable food to those in need. Through developing an app that will allow instant communication between the various organizations involved in both producing food and receiving food donations, along with a cadre of volunteers, Feeding Forward will put food that would otherwise go to waste in the hands of people who need it. Komal’s larger vision is to create public dialogue around food waste issues, making it a central part of the growing environmental, social justice, and sustainability movements.
A Language Without Words
Mayuri Bhandari is a Dance Performances major and South Asian Studies minor. In her project, A Language Without Words, she will teach dance and movement to blind and deaf children, ages 3-15, at a school located in a small village in Maharashtra, India. Mayuri states, “All children need movement in their lives, not only as a form of physical fitness but also as a form of enrichment for their souls. In India especially, disabled children do not get such opportunities. Statistics state that India has the world’s largest population of children, and one in every ten is disabled.” Using a variety of dance styles and activities, Mayuri will train instructors and students in different forms of creative self-expression. She hopes to expand her dance program across India to more schools for the handicapped.
Recovering Cultural Memory: Irrigation Systems of the Owens Valley Paiute Indians
Jenna is a Conservation and Resource Studies major who will work with members of the Paiute Indian community of California on a project that creatively combines education, outreach, and technology to restore cultural memory associated with their ancient irrigation systems. These waterworks are currently in danger of being lost in the Owens Valley landscape through weathering and neglect. In addition, knowledge of the waterworks is also fading from American memory through the loss of culturally transmitted traditional knowledge. Jenna states, “Through community engagement, my project works with tribal members to document Paiute irrigations networks and their role in shaping Paiute culture… While this project has real bearing on tribal customs and interests, it also informs larger local and regional communities through education and museum exhibits.”
Undocuqueer Art Making: Healing Practices Through Self-Expression
Marco is a Gender and Women’s Studies major who will design and facilitate a series of creative workshops that focus on healing the self through art and digital film production. The workshops will include story-telling, creative writing, and a number of hands-on art making practices. During his project, Marco will work collaboratively with self-identified queer undocumented youth in the Bay Area to create a new narrative, one that explores the complexity of the immigrant experience and what it means to be “at home.” Marco intends for the project to create a participatory educational space by allowing those involved to be the agents of their experiences. An adjunct aim is to enrich the community through the creation and display of art. The culmination of the project will be a community event, film screening and forum for sharing the participants’ work.
Other Frames: From 'Dream Factory' to Dream Communities
Ricardo, an Interdisciplinary Studies Field major with a minor in Education, will return to his hometown of Oxnard, California to build film collectives at local high school sites. Through collaborative workshops, skill-shares, and community events, students will learn how to develop, produce, and share their own voices, visions, narratives, and creative expressions through film and video. Ricardo states, “Through working on this project, I also plan to collaboratively discover and document a pedagogical approach to teaching film theory and practice that is both culturally relevant to youth from low-income communities of color and up-to-date with contemporary digital video and online publishing practices.”
Democratizing Technology: Air Quality Monitoring
Inna is a Society and Environment major with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice. She has designed a project to work with community members in the San Nicholas region of Monterrey, Mexico to develop a standardized, transferable "tool-box" for measuring air contamination. Her project will utilize available, affordable air monitoring technology while taking into consideration site-specific conditions. The highly industrialized Monterrey metropolitan area currently faces increasing air pollution problems. Inna’s story involves a very personal connection to the issue of air contamination. As a child, she was exposed to the “contaminated rain” of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant incident in the Soviet Union. Work in West Berkeley on the long-term risks of steel manufacturing emissions took Inna to Monterrey, Mexico, which had similar conditions. Her project now hopes to empower citizens to take the monitoring of air contamination into their own hands.
To learn more about The Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize, and to read the profiles of past prize winners, click on the link: http://research.berkeley.edu/stronach