Get to know our inaugural class of ambassadors....
Cassidy Blundell, '08 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Cassidy has had a long-standing interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach efforts. As an undergraduate at Boston University, Cassidy was a member of the Technology Innovation Scholars program, which brought engineering education and activities to schools in the Boston community. Now a graduate student in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Cassidy has continued to seek out opportunities to engage the local community. As an Ascienzo Foundation ambassador, Cassidy plans to partner with iPraxis, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that brings STEM education to local Philadelphia schools through science fair mentoring, outreach presentations, and after school programs.
Robinson Greig, '09 (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Robinson believes that improving access to quality education has the greatest potential to bring about widespread change. Robinson recently began working with Resilient Coders, an organization that prepares young individuals from underserved communities for a career in technology. Robinson lives in Cambridge, MA where he leads product design for a health and wellness startup. Robinson previously studied mechanical engineering at Northeastern University and will begin pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School in 2017. When he isn't working on a project, you'll find Robinson carrying an old film camera, training for a marathon by the Charles River, or hanging out with his dog, Charlie.
Betsy Kirtland, '12 (Boston, Massachusetts)
Since her first year at Tufts University, Betsy Kirtland has been involved in more than just her engineering classes. A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Rugby team, Betsy has also been volunteering at a mentoring after school program at the Mystic Learning Center (MLC), whose mission is to improve the lives of low-income children and families in the surrounding community. She’s had the same “buddy” for four years now, and says that, “volunteering at the MLC makes me feel like I am doing something that really matters. As a college student, it is easy for me to get tunnel vision on focusing on completing assignments, studying, and checking things off my to-do list, so working with Kialaa helps me gain perspective on what is really important in life.”
Brittany Mosher, '05 (Fort Collins, Colorado)
First inspired to pursue a career in environmental and wildlife protection by the Sawkill Trip in 7th grade (which all RHHS alums are familiar with) Brittany Mosher is now nearing the end of a PhD program in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University. Brittany is not only deeply involved in her research and protecting the wildlife around us, but has also been committed from the beginning of her studies to outside volunteer opportunities that connect education, animals, and at-risk populations. For three years now Brittany (and her dog!) has volunteered at Human Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC), working with dog therapy programs in an elementary school, helping students who are struggling with a range of social and learning issues. She is also an Assistant Naturalist Volunteer with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, whose mission is to conserve birds and their habitats through science, education, and stewardship. Moving into the fall, Brittany is considering how grants from the Ascienzo Family Foundation could help less able schools pay for a partnership with HABIC, or perhaps sponsor kids for certain events put on by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies so that they can spark a passion for learning about the environment in a way that she similarly was on a 7th grade field trip.
Jessica Neilson, '03 (San Bernardino, California)
”It's always been in my heart to look out for my neighbor, but the invitation to be an ambassador has encouraged me to look even closer at the needs of my local community. I think sometimes we try so hard to focus on and fix the big picture that we miss what is right down the street from us.”
Jessica is passionately involved in her community in San Bernardino county in California, as well as thinking globally in terms of learning and service work. Domestically, Jessica has just started a year-long therapy internship as part of her graduate work with a local non profit called Inland Temporary Homes (ITH). ITH provides housing as well as mental health and personal development services for families in need of a safe, stable environment so they can get back on their feet. In addition to her local focus, Jessica also volunteers at Make A Difference Now, an international nonprofit that promotes educational opportunities for vulnerable youth all over the globe.
Aminy Ostfeld, '07 (Oakland, California)
Aminy has been passionate about solar energy as a sustainable means of electricity generation for many years. She started working with We Share Solar out of a desire to contribute to immediate, hands-on solar projects as a supplement to her longer-term PhD research in solar materials, and was delighted to learn that solar energy has social benefits in addition to the environmental ones. Through this organization, American students are taught to build "solar suitcases" containing solar panels, batteries for energy storage, lighting and ports to charge cell phones and other electronics, which are then sent to schools and orphanages in developing countries around the world. In the process, the American students learn about solar energy, electrical engineering, and energy poverty, and build relationships with the students who receive the solar suitcases. This summer Aminy and We Share Solar helped high school students in Oakland, CA to build several new solar suitcases, which were delivered to schools in Uganda, as part of the new Summer Solar Academy program.
Alex Parks, '06 (Boston, Massachusetts)
Alex has been living in the Boston-area for nearly a decade, and works as a public relations consultant for technology companies. He recently received national recognition from AdWeek, which named him as one of the PR Industry’s 30 Under 30 for 2015, and started his own PR consulting business over the summer. When Alex isn’t promoting technology companies, he’s volunteering his PR services to non-profit educational events such as TEDxSomerville. He’s eager to begin work as an Ascienzo Family Foundation ambassador, with a focus on connecting the foundation with organizations in the Boston-area that provide educational needs to underserved communities.
Megan Sanger, '08 (Red Hook, New York)
Already passionate about helping out the community around her, Megan Sanger teaches in a school that places a high premium on volunteer work. Through her school Megan has volunteered on a variety of projects; from working to upkeep campus grounds, to promoting education on recycling through documentary showings, to working with children at a local Head Start Program. This year she has the great opportunity to travel to New York City as part of the Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP) with her students and help the homeless population. In anticipation of the Ascienzo Family Foundation’s inaugural round of grant funding coming up this fall, Megan has been looking more closely into SAM camp, a math program run by her school which encourages girls to develop hands on science learning and problem solving skills. As a female who majored in Mathematics at Providence College, Megan sees the great value in this camp and the interest in sparks in young girls to become involved in the maths and sciences.
Sara Thompson, '96 (Tucson, Arizona)
Since moving to Tucson, Arizona in 2003, Sara has taken a significant interest in her community. Responding to a new view of poverty and education, Sara has chosen to reach out to Youth on Their Own, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support to homeless teens helping them graduate from high school. Sara has also researched the work of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, specifically an outreach program that provides culinary training at no-cost to low-income individuals, giving them a marketable skill, helping them to find jobs, and giving them confidence in themselves. She is looking forward to diving more deeply into these groups and discovering how the Ascienzo Family Foundation can provide support for their goals of promoting education and alleviating poverty.
“It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” - Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Tom Triebwasser, '01 (Washington, D.C.)
A 2001 RHHS grad, Tom has a Masters in Engineering and works as Senior Technical Lead for General Dynamics Missions Systems, in Washington, D.C. Outside of his research and technology integration work for General Dynamics Missions Systems, Tom volunteers at his synagogue and in the local Jewish community. He also is a socially conscious consumer, supporting the Sunflower Bakery, which provides skilled baking and related industry training to individuals with special needs. Tom sees the value and integrity in the work that Sunflower Bakery does in helping everyone, regardless of his or her background, find meaningful work. Tom sees volunteering as a very important and personal part of our lives. “We all have unique contributions to help make our communities thrive, and each person needs to do his or her part to make his own community great.”
Juliana Zemke, '10 (Madagascar, via Peace Corps)
Juliana is a Peace Corps Volunteer serving on the East Coast of Madagascar. Living at the rural hospital, she works with the health care providers as well as the community health workers to promote various health initiatives that have been found lacking in her community. She hopes to focus her service on Child and Infant Nutrition, Maternal Health, and Malaria Awareness and Prevention. While pursuing dual Psychology and Anthropology degrees from Syracuse University, she volunteered as a medic for Syracuse University Ambulance. Her current favorite past time is integrating health messages into playtime with small children and eating about 15 bananas a day.