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Coverdell Fellows Students

Admitted 2021

  1. Grace Park Grace Park

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2021

    Born in Daegu and raised in Philadelphia, Grace (she/her/hers) is a first-generation graduate student. She attained a Bachelor’s of Science in Rehabilitation and Human Services from Penn State University, where she was challenged to value her education not as a one-way road to a career, but an opportunity to learn about herself and the needs of our society and world. Grace served with the Peace Corps in Malawi as a Secondary School English Teacher. She lived and worked alongside community members to enhance teaching practices, develop after-school programs, and engage parents in the academic success of their children. Although shortened by COVID-19, her service led her to one definite conclusion: She wants to not change the world herself, but empower the youth who one day will.

  2. Helen Seddelmeyer Helen Seddelmeyer

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2021

    Helen (she/her/hers) grew up in Texas but calls Denver, Colorado home. She graduated magna cum laude from Wofford College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, Anthropology and German. Helen is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, who served in Zambia as a Rural Education Development agent. She also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a substance use and mental health residential treatment center. Helen is passionate about social justice and is interested in promoting action and change in diverse communities through movement, the outdoors, and shared spaces. As a Coverdell Fellow in the School of Social Work’s Community-Based Initiative, she seeks to learn how to best aid the houseless populations of urban areas.

  3. Leslie Leong Leslie Leong

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2021

    Leslie (she/her/hers) was born in Sacramento, CA and graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Health. After graduating, she focused on serving the health needs of low-income communities in the U.S. as well as in Guatemala, where she served in the Peace Corps. She then served in AmeriCorps, focusing on environmental stewardship and land conservation and has most recently been working on COVID-19 emergency response efforts. As a Coverdell Fellow in the School of Social Work’s Community Based Initiative Program, Leslie hopes to develop the skills necessary to enact sustainable change in the Detroit community and other urban cities with the goal of enhancing their abilities to lead healthy lives.

  4. Sara Livingston Sara Livingston

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2021

    Sara (she/her/hers) grew up in Erie, PA, but now calls Chicago home. She majored in Sociology/Anthropology and Spanish at Denison University. After graduating from Denison, she began teaching high school Spanish in Gary, Indiana, as part of Teach for America. Having developed some foreign language teaching strategies, she felt prepared to assist Ecuadorian English teachers by joining Peace Corps, Ecuador as a TEFL volunteer. While in Ecuador, Sara began cooking with her host family, taking culinary classes, and cooking at a Peruvian restaurant. From there, Sara turned toward culinary exploration, working in kitchens throughout Latin America and then in Chicago over the next three years. Sara is drawn to pursue an MSW in order to promote social justice in areas related to food access, labor rights, and education. As part of the Community-Based Initiative program, Sara hopes to learn from successful food-based social justice initiatives in Detroit to inform her future work in Chicago.

  5. Shaylyn MacKinnon Shaylyn MacKinnon

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2021

    Shaylyn (she/her/hers) was raised in Colchester, CT, but considers home as Portland, ME. She attended Drew University where she triple majored in International Relations, English Literature, and Spanish Language & Culture, initially intending a career in English language education. Shaylyn's goals shifted to refugee resettlement from the policy research and social service perspectives after witnessing a mass arrival of asylum seekers in Portland just before departing for her Peace Corps service in Rwanda. Upon her return, she began an AmeriCorps service assisting in an ELL classroom and an internship with a local nonprofit researching workforce-focused adult English language education. Shaylyn is currently a dual degree student pursuing her Master of Public Policy and Master of Social Work hoping to combine her passion for direct service with her interest in macro-level policy research in order to help ease the legal, cultural, and social integration process of refugee resettlement within Maine.

Admitted 2020

  1. Alejandra Alvarez Alejandra Alvarez

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2020

    Alejandra (she/her/hers, they/them/theirs) was born and raised in Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. They served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco in the Youth Development Sector, and prior to joining the Peace Corps she was a housing organizer in Chicago working with communities to improve their quality of life through housing advocacy for poor working-class tenants. Alejandra has also worked as an ESL instructor in Peru and learned about art and activism in Chile through their own independent research study. Alejandra considers herself an internationalist and would like to continue learning from young people and communities about social transformation through art projects. After completing their MSW they would like to do research abroad on youth driven social change and community praxis.

Admitted 2019

  1. Alyssa Rietveld Alyssa Rietveld

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2019

    Alyssa grew up in Hudsonville, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in International Studies and Afroamerican & African Studies. During undergrad she studied in Ghana and Senegal, as well as researched the economic and cultural contribution west African immigrants make in Detroit. Alyssa then served in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso as a community health educator. In Burkina Faso she co-founded a health club for teenage girls where they gained knowledge in pertinent health issues and leadership skills to become peer educators. She also gained fluency in French and Moore. After Peace Corps, Alyssa worked at a refugee resettlement agency in Grand Rapids, Michigan where her interest in refugee services and policy grew. As a Coverdell Fellow in the School of Social Work’s Community Based Initiative, she hopes to learn about inequity and economic rebound through policy and program evaluation. She is also interested in refugee resettlement and child welfare programs in an international context.

  2. Mary Heinemann Mary Heinemann

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2019

    Mary is a fierce, passionate, wandering soul who is always learning how to be a more inclusive, anti-oppressive social worker after living abroad for most of the last 7 years in Tanzania where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer. As a Coverdell Fellow & Community- Based Initiative Scholar, Mary is committed to examining her own privilege, social identity, and abilities to empower those who are marginalized through social work and social justice. 

    Mary grew up mostly in Colorado where she studied Communications and Women’s Studies before moving to Seattle, Denver, and finally Tanzania. Working alongside the strong, warm, welcoming women of Tanzania she realized a dream of starting a social enterprise with women’s cooperatives focused on buying and selling crafts from female artisans in an effort to improve income generation, access to education, and healthcare. She has also worked as an experiential educator all over East Africa and Nepal, as well as with the Denver Boys & Girls Club. 

    During her time at the U-M School of Social Work, Mary is hoping to find ways to connect local systems and communities that face oppression to the international communities facing similar challenges. She believes that by uniting, learning from each other, and sharing space we can attempt to heal and dismantle the systems that oppress. She also loves coffee, yoga, and fans, a little too much some might say.

Admitted 2018

  1. Zahra Chevannes Zahra Chevannes

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2018

    Zahra is a queer Black Caribbean social worker in training from Brooklyn, NY. As a Coverdell Fellow & Community-Based Initiative Scholar, Zahra is committed to serving Black, Brown, immigrant, refugee and queer communities both at the grassroots, community-based and macro policy levels. Specifically, Zahra's interests are centered around community wealth building, collective economics, community resilience and well-being, restorative practices and reparative justice.

    Before moving to Detroit, Zahra was working in fundraising and capacity-building at Green Worker Cooperatives, a South Bronx-based worker co-op incubator engaging communities of color throughout NYC. From 2014-2016, Zahra served as a Peace Corps Education Volunteer in Northwestern China where she taught English and developed community programming at a teacher training college.

    At U-M School of Social Work, Zahra is exploring the power of community and collectivity, taking a holistic and intersectional approach that integrates all aspects of community well-being while also addressing and working to dismantle systems of oppression. Zahra is also working towards becoming a certified Reiki practitioner, and developing modes of practice around providing trauma-informed services.

Alumni

  1. A'lice Frazier A'lice Frazier

    Coverdell Fellow Student Admitted 2016

    A’lice Frazier is a graduate student studying Community Organizing and Community and Social Systems at the School of Social Work. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and completed her Bachelors of Arts in English Literary Studies and Psychology: Child Maltreatment and Family Practices at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina. A’lice served in Zambia as a Youth and Community Education volunteer from 2014 – 2016. Along with her primary role as an English teacher, A’lice worked with her community to implement community-wide health projects including HIV Awareness and Prevention Initiatives and a Water and Sanitation Project. A’lice is excited to join as a Coverdell Fellow in the Community Based Initiative, where she plans to continue her work of educating youth in communities on HIV and sexual reproductive health. A’lice’s hobbies include reading, binge watching Netflix, and having a great talent for choosing and consuming delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

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