Two Vassar students receive Compton Mentor Fellowship.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Two Vassar students, Jacqueline “Jaquie” Law, Vassar class of 2009 from Meridian, ID; and Juliana Valente, Vassar class of 2009 of Poughkeepsie, NY (from Sao Paulo, Brazil), have been awarded the 2009-10 Compton Mentor Fellowship. Vassar is one of just ten schools nationwide participating in the innovative fellowship program, sponsored by the Compton Foundation.

Each of the projects designed by the two Vassar students are unique. Law, who founded the Vassar Uganda Project, will return to that country to develop the “Safe Mothers, Safe Babies” project. She will focus on ways to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Uganda. Valente will focus her work in the city of Poughkeepsie, NY, with the project, “Women’s Exchange Program.” This will be based at Poughkeepsie Family Partnership Center and she will focus on ways to promote peace in the city through work with formerly incarcerated women.

“My overall goal is to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Bugweri Sub-district, Iganga, Uganda through sustainable, demand-driven, and collaborative means,” explained Jaquie Law. She will work in collaboration with the Iganga District Health Office, the Iganga Hospital, local healthcare centers, the Uganda Village Project, and local organizations of government and civil society.

Law said that the project has five goals: neonatal CPR training for all biomedical and traditional health providers in Bugweri Sub-district and the Iganga Hospital; Safe Baby OB kits given to village midwives and traditional birth attendants; as well as work to provide safe water supplies, malaria prevention, and the development of a motorcycle ambulance program. 

Dr. Peter Waiswa, a professor at Makerere University School of Public Health/Iganga-Mayuge Demographic Surveillance Site, will serve as Law’s mentor.

Juliana Valente’s project, “Women’s Exchange Program,” will be centered at the Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. She noted that the program “specifically targets women reentering society after having been incarcerated, and female youth living in the local area.”

Valente will work with women of all ages to promote peace and conflict resolution in the city of Poughkeepsie. The primary focus of the program will be a support group for formerly incarcerated women. The second component will be dissemination of information through discussions and workshops prepared by the formerly incarcerated women for local high school girls. Valente noted that “The Women’s Exchange Program aims to prevent violence prior and post incarceration and, consequently, to help lower recidivism rates in Poughkeepsie and provide youth with alternatives to violence.”

Bonnie Allen, project director of the Dutchess Collaborative Reentry Project, will serve as Valente’s mentor.

Vassar is one of ten schools participating in this innovative Compton Mentor Fellowship Program.  Each participating school was asked to submit two nominations for consideration with a total of ten Compton Fellows selected.

The Compton Foundation created the Mentor Fellowship Program to promote the creativity and support the commitment of graduating seniors as they move beyond academic preparation to focus on continuing ‘real world’ application and contribution. The Fellowship is based on the belief that life-changing experiences occur when formal learning becomes transformed by action. Each Mentor Fellow designs a project of social merit that focuses on the environment, peace and conflict resolution, climate change, reproductive health, and/or equal opportunity.

The Fellowship, with a stipend of $35,000, is intended to be for one year, and begins and ends at the annual mid-July gathering of Mentor Fellows held in the San Francisco area.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, July 31, 2009