By Claudia Luther for UCLA Newsroom
Three UCLA students have been honored with 2012 Charles E. Young Humanitarian Awards for their outstanding commitment to public service. The awards ceremony, a private event for family and friends, took place May 3 in the Charles E. Young Grand Salon at UCLA's Kerckhoff Hall.
The Young Humanitarian Award, established by UCLA in 1986 as an annual tribute to recognize and encourage projects that address communities' social needs, is one of the most prestigious honors given to UCLA undergraduates. Each student received $700, to be donated to a public service project of their choice.
Priscilla Mapelli, 20, of Antelope, Calif., an international development studies major who will graduate in June 2013, received the humanitarian award for her work with the UCLA chapter of U.S. Global Medical Brigades, a student-led global health and sustainable development organization.
She has made four trips to Honduras and one to Ghana to foster community and women's health, particularly when it comes to recurring intestinal parasite problems. Her work has focused on preventable measures, including personal water filtration devices that help prevent water-borne diseases and illnesses.
"Cultural respect and the ability the make the community's voice be heard are what make our programs effective and, most of all, sustainable within the community," Mapelli said. "Medical Brigades provides a space and actual hands-on experience in producing sustainable community service projects and solutions that can later be used in students' own communities."
Solomiya Teterichko, the medical and dental program adviser for Global Brigades Ghana, said Mapelli's leadership helped "inspire, mobilize and organize over 50 students" to assist in Ghana last December. "The students of this group not only brought about health awareness to community members but also continue to inspire our staff to push cultural limitations within health care to better the populations of under-resourced communities in central Ghana," Teterichko said.
Mapelli plans to use the humanitarian award to purchase personal water filtration devices to aid in the prevention of water-borne diseases.
The other two award recipients are Kendra Knudsen, 22, of Pleasanton, Calif., a psychobiology major who developed the Creative Minds Project at Step Up on Second, a nonprofit organization in Santa Monica that serves people with mental illness, and Andrew Moncada, 22, of Novato, Calif., a political science major who was honored for his work with Writer's Den, a group of UCLA students that teaches creative writing to students in inner-city schools. Moncada was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Korea, in large part due to his work with Writer's Den. He plans to use the humanitarian award to assist with transportation, internal development and strategic planning to help Writer's Den expand to new school sites in Los Angeles.