Palmer Award Finalists: Nabeel and Le’Otis

In the third installment of our Palmer Award announcements, we have our final two Palmer Award finalists to share with you. Please meet Nabeel Ahmed and Le’Otis Boswell-Johnson!

Nabeel attended Central Michigan University’s session of the Institute. While there, he developed a vision that was focused on a world where clean and drinkable water is valued and available for everyone. Recognizing that there is much to learn about water treatment, Nabeel got to work and focused his masters’ research on the purification and reclamation of wastewater.

Through this research, Nabeel is working to discover solutions to the problems related to water treatment. By writing and publishing articles about this research, he hopes that he is building awareness around the world’s water crisis as well as demonstrate the possibilities that exist through research.LSH-all-banners-LO-RES-7

Nabeel’s Institute experience continued this year when he served as a challenge course facilitator for CMU’s 2018 session.

Le’Otis, Institute graduate from the Florida State University session, has a vision of a juvenile justice system that is rehabilitative in nature, giving youth an opportunity to turn their lives around.

To prepare to make an impact on a long-established punitive judicial system, Le’Otis is now pursuing his Juris Doctorate at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern. Prior to enrolling on law school, he spent a year tutoring and mentoring at risk students with City Year. His work at City Year fostered the academic and personal growth of those he mentored, potentially lowering their risk of ever entering the juvenile justice system.

Le’Otis is also the co-founder of Sons of Sophistication Mentoring Program. Based in Tallahassee, FL, the program provides high school aged men of color with mentors from Florida State University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Tallahassee Community College.

Join us in wishing Nabeel and Le’Otis success in their work to create a more just, caring, and thriving world!

If you haven’t heard who our two other finalists are, you can read about Malik and Pooja here. Then visit this post to learn all about this year’s Palmer Award recipient, Briana Landis.

2018 Palmer Award Finalists: Malik and Pooja

We received so many impressive and inspiring applications for this year’s Palmer Award! Earlier this month we announced the 2018 recipient, Briana Landis. And now we are excited to share with you some of the finalists for the award. Today we want to introduce you to Malik Amir Mix and Pooja Trivedi.

Malik attended the Institute at Michigan State University. In his award application, Malik shared that one of the things he learned during those six days was how to optimize his purpose. As he went through the process of identifying how he’d like to activate his purpose, Malik wrote a vision headline that read, “Detroit Youth Will Attend Any College in the World for Free!”

OYLFAs a step towards his vision, Malik has established the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Our Young Leaders Foundation (OYLF). OYLF has established a partnership with University Preparatory Academy High School in Detroit and has spoken with students about personal brand and development. Now there are plans for the UPA Middle School to be included in future presentations.

The Foundation has also secured monetary donations that have been used to provide over 500 meals to the homeless of Detroit. The group has launched the Project FATKidz (Fighting Against Threats) campaign as well. You can learn more about all of the OYLF’s initiatives by visiting their website.

In addition to this vision work, Malik is active at MSU. He began a Men’s Empowerment Brunch with some peers, discussing topics that are prevalent to young minorities in Corporate America. And is on this year’s Homecoming Court.

 
Pooja Trivedi, an Institute graduate from the University of Texas-Austin, is eager to “raise the floor before we raise the ceiling.” By this, Pooja is referring to her desire to “help those in need before chasing after higher level advancements.” And she wants to do so while having an environmental and social impact.IMG_1813

Through the Projects with Underserved Communities (PUC) program at her university, Pooja joined a small team of social work and engineering students to work on a project for an elementary school in small village in Thailand. The school was in need of sinks to provide water on a consistent basis and a roof.

In order to implement this project, Pooja and her teammates fundraised to pay for their materials and they designed the sink structure, drainage system, water supply, and roof. They gave multiple presentations to an advisory board throughout the year and maintained contact with engineering professionals and the community in Thailand they were working for. Once their work was approved, they traveled to Thailand to spend the summer making concrete, trenching, piping, and building forms. In the end, the school was fitted with 25 sinks and a roof.

IMG_1531

Once the sinks were installed, the students learned about the connection between hygiene and hand-washing and teeth-brushing. Additionally, the drainage water from the sinks traveled through a naturally engineered filtration system to water the school’s garden. This allowed students to see what sustainability can look like.

Since her experience with the project for the school in Thailand, Pooja has gone on to study water conservation techniques around the world. She is currently a finalist for funding to begin a new research project.

 

Join us in cheering Malik and Pooja on as they continue to work toward their visions. And stop by the blog later this week to learn about two more of our
Palmer Award finalists.

2018 Palmer Award Recipient: Briana Landis

We are so excited to announce this year’s Palmer Award Recipient! Meet and help us to congratulate Briana Landis, an Institute graduate from Meredith College, whose vision is “to create a world free of Multiple Sclerosis.”

31960383_1884181898313037_2040786356740816896_n

For those unfamiliar with the disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. This attack on the brain and spinal cord disrupts signals to and from the brain. This interruption can create a variety of problems from numbness to blindness to paralysis.

research

Briana herself was diagnosed with MS when she was 4 years old and prior to participating in the Institute, she interned with the research lab DiscoveryMS. These experiences helped Briana to understand the need for funding to be directed towards MS research.

Through her experience at the Institute, Briana realized that, although she is young, she really can make a significant impact on what she cares about! She can be bold in her vision of a world free of Multiple Sclerosis. As she developed her vision further, Briana set a stretch goal to speak with local government officials about funding for MS on the state level as well as eventually speaking with Congress to demonstrate the need for funding on a national level.

Take a look at Briana’s progress!

  • Shared her story at multiple events that were raising money for Multiple Sclerosis
  • Was approached by the National MS Society and asked to go to Congress and speak on their behalf
  • Researched which bills were connected to Multiple Sclerosis and met with the National MS Society to understand the issues more deeply
  • Traveled to DC and spoke with members of Congress and the head of the MS Caucus
  • Met with her local state representative and the Governor of North Carolina

While in DC speaking to members of Congress, Briana asked for support of the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act. This act would prohibit large pharmaceutical companies from having programs that limit access to generic drugs. Briana shared that, on average, a person living with MS will pay $2500.00 a month on medication. Getting the CREATES Act passed means more people will be able to afford the medications they need and enjoy a better quality of life as their symptoms are being treated.28870387_1816760605055167_7650265836946946227_n

There has been progress on the Neurological Conditions Surveillance System, another area that Briana spoke with legislators about. Although previously passed, no funding had been given. Funding has now been established and preliminary results shows there are more than one million people in the United States with Multiple Sclerosis. Earlier studies estimated that number to be only half of that. The census results demonstrate the need for resources to be allocated to those with the disease and for research.

Through her work with her local Representatives and Governor, Briana as advocated for more funding for North Carolina’s Affordable Housing initiative. The passing of this initiative benefits people with MS who have been homebound by providing them with easy-to assemble ramps for their homes. MS can limit one’s physical mobility, keeping them homebound. Those in this situation may not be able to attend doctor’s appointments, pick up prescriptions, run errands, or see friends and family – all activities important to one’s physical and mental health. These ramps can add so much value to those living with MS by helping them be more mobile and offering an increased level of independence and freedom.

Briana’s knows her work is not done yet! Even so, she shared that she is eager to one day say, “I used to have MS.”