Launching the 2021 Summer Fellows Program

The Dwight Hall Summer Fellows program supports students who desire to form lasting relationships with the community. Since its founding in 1968, the program has offered unique opportunities for students to dedicate themselves to creating social change, significantly expanding the number of fellowships and growing its partnerships with community leaders and organizations.

This year, the 2021 Summer Fellows program accepted 13 applicants who have committed to fostering equity, visibility, and accessibility with their summer positions. Students will hold remote positions, with some in-person activity, in organizations based in areas as far as San Francisco and New Orleans. Notably, most accepted applicants have chosen to work with organizations in the Elm City. Join us in welcoming these 13 Dwight Hall Summer Fellows!

The 2021 Summer Fellows

All 13 Summer Fellows have elected to participate in projects that promote social equity. In fact, seven Fellows will work in organizations related to the law and political science. Of his work with the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, Justin Yamamura ‘23, says, “This work is important because I will be helping veterans who have been wrongly discharged due to mental health issues, especially veterans of color.” Yamamura is not alone in his dedication to addressing inequity entrenched in the legal system. José Garcia ‘22, who is interning with the New Haven Office of Public Defenders, says, “Too often, courts demarcate boundaries of ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’ in ways that are incommensurate with the root causes of inequality.” Mitigation services, such as what Garcia’s parter organization offers, address this issue by centering clients in their legal practice and having their “social history” influence the system’s decision.

Summer Fellows will also work with organizations from around the country. As a Seeding Change Fellow with the San-Francisco-based Chinese Progressive Association, Stella Xu ‘22 will conduct in-language phone intake for community members regarding direct legal service needs surrounding tenants’ and workers’ rights, in addition to learning about grassroots organizing with a nationwide cohort. Chie Xu ‘22, will work with Orleans Public Defenders, an organization based in New Orleans, to address record-keeping inequalities that have historically disadvantaged indigent defendants and incarcerated people. With the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project in San Francisco, Nathan Kim ‘22 will create tenant organizing resources to reduce oppressive and parasitic relationships preserved in property taxes and eviction law.

Many of this year’s Summer Fellows have also chosen to work in organizations related to medicine, mental health, and patient services.  As a summer intern with Fair Haven Community Health Care, Charlie Tran ‘22 will conduct projects to screen for social determinants of health and connect patients with external services through an online platform. With the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, Caroline Yi ‘22 will serve as a Research Assistant working to better understand psychotropic medications and the etiology of psychiatric disorders like borderline personality disorder. Keith Calloway ‘23 will bridge historical research and the medicine through his project with the Connecticut Mental Health Center History Exploration Committee. He will be conducting in-depth research into the early history of the center to help the CMHC on its journey to becoming an anti-racist organization. As a Survivor Services intern with the Nationalities Service Center, Abby Leighton ‘24 will provide resources to immigrant and refugee survivors of human trafficking, torture, domestic violence and other serious crimes.

In addition to working in sectors related to law and medicine, Dwight Hall’s other Summer Fellows will undertake internships that directly impact the New Haven community. With ArtSpace New Haven, Tina Oyanguren ‘23 will help facilitate the Student Apprenticeship Program to enable high school students from New Haven public high schools to learn under an artist and to prepare an exhibition. Matthew Cline ‘23 will lead fundraising and communications efforts for EMERGE Connecticut, a local organization that works to create a healthy and equitable reentry process for those returning to the greater New Haven area from incarceration. Katie Schlick ‘22, will bring academic research, local voices, and analyses of City ordinances together with long-term goals to help develop municipal adaptation plans that address climate justice in New Haven. On her internship with Junta for Progressive Action, an organization based in New Haven that serves the Latinx community, Valeria Bula ‘23, says, “It is … incredibly important to me to serve an organization such as Junta, whose work has created a resonating positive impact for the local undocumented and documented migrant communities.”

Both collectively and individually, the 2021 Summer Fellow exemplify Dwight Hall’s dedication to social change and its mission to empower students to make lasting impacts within their community. Congratulations to the 2021 cohort!

About the Author

Lydia Burleson

Lydia Burleson served as the Communications and Alumni Engagement Associate for Dwight Hall at Yale, Center for Public Service and Social Justice from June 2021-June 2022. A first-generation low-income student from rural Texas, Lydia graduated from Yale cum laude in 2021 with a degree in English and a nonfiction creative writing concentration. During her college years, Lydia increased awareness of marginalized voices with the public writing she did for The Yale Daily News and the Yale Admissions office. Her Dwight Hall experiences included free college advising with student-led member groups REACH and Matriculate. Dwight Hall empowered Lydia to uplift other disadvantaged students and to increase access to education for people who might not have otherwise received these resources. She is currently completing an English PhD at Stanford University with a Knight-Hennessy Fellowship.