Posted on Apr 30, 2009

The first group of Minerva Fellows gather for a sendoff celebration at the summer home in Lake George of Michael and Jo-Ann Rapaport in May 2008. President Ainlay and Frank Messa were in attendance

After living the last 11 months of their lives half a world away, Union’s Minerva Fellows are headed home.

These members of the Class of 2008 were the first recipients of the Minerva Fellowships, which sent them to Southern Uganda, Cambodia, India, South Africa and Southern Malawi to discover entrepreneurial approaches to social problems and instill on them a lasting commitment to the poor.

Beginning next week, the eight students will spend one month on campus giving presentations in Minerva Houses and guest lectures in classes like Professor Hal Fried’s social entrepreneurship course.

“I’m looking forward to having them back on campus. They’ve surpassed all our expectations in terms of what they’ve given the non-government organizations,” said Associate Dean of Students and Director of Minerva Progams Tom McEvoy.

“I’ve talked with people from the NGOs, and they can’t say enough about our students.”

The Minerva Fellows will give their first presentation to the campus community Thursday, May 7 at 12:50 p.m. during Pizza & Politics in Reamer Auditorium.

They will participate in a panel discussion and multimedia show in the Nott on Monday, May 11 at 4 p.m., and Friday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m. The evening program, held during ReUnion, will feature food from the regions each student visited.

The Minerva Fellows reported to their assigned country in July. All returned recently, though one student, Emily Laing, returned in November due to illness. The Fellows are:


Rebecca Broadwin and Stephen Po-Chedley, Southern Uganda: They worked with Engeye to help improve living conditions and reduce suffering in rural Africa through education and compassionate health care.

Jonathan Hill and Robert Flick, Siem Reap, Cambodia: They teamed with The Global Child, an organization that builds specialty schools and safe houses for gifted street children in developing, war-torn countries around the world.

Alex Butts and Emily Laing, Mumbai, India: They assisted the Welfare Society for Destitute Children in its mission to give orphans, runaways, children of sex workers and those affected by HIV/AIDS access to shelter, food and education.

David Shulman, Southern Malawi: He worked with Partners in Health on medical care, access to clean water, education, nutrition and shelter.

Lara Levine, Capetown, South Africa: She joined Journey Hope South Africa to address HIV/AIDS and education issues.