Monday, April 13, 2009

Grace Paley Award Winner

The William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences is pleased to announce that Sơn ca Lâm is recipient of the 2009 Grace Paley Award. Honorable Mention has been awarded to Stephanie Fail and Heather Turner.

The Joiner Center received an overwhelming number of qualified nominees for this award; it's clear that students at UMass Boston are hard at work in the fields of social and political activism. We want to thank the students and faculty who nominated the applicants; our task was bittersweet. We applaud Sơn ca Lâm, Stephanie Fail, and Heather Turner for their work and advocacy; it is an honor to recognize these outstanding individuals.

For the past three years, Sơn ca Lâm has served as a core member of Asian American Studies Outreach (AASO), the student-initiated, student-run arm of the Asian American Studies Program at UMass Boston. She was instrumental in the drafting of Nine Issues of Concern, which framed an agenda of priority issues for Asian and Asian American students. Sơn ca also co-organized all aspects of the 2008 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Activities on campus. Sơn ca performed at numerous cultural events on and off campus, including The Vagina Monologues. Her academic commitment is outstanding; she is pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies. Combining her academic skills and her community commitments to full effect, Sơn ca used her GIS mapping skills to plot a profile of Vietnamese nail salons in Boston; similarly, she made use of her academic environmental justice expertise to highlight illegal landfills and dumpsites in the East Vietnamese community in New Orleans. Sơn ca Lâm is due to graduate this year.

Stephanie Fail writes op-eds for The Mass Media, the UMass Boston student newspaper. Her columns have covered a wide range of topics, including politics, the T, racism, history, and the need for students to play an active role in social and political affairs. Her work with the Student Antiwar Coalition has included the development of a website, event planning and outreach through journalism. Stephanie and her colleagues at the Student Antiwar Coalition brought the embedded international journalist, Dahr Jamail, to UMass Boston. This event raised student awareness about the war and its consequences.

Heather Turner has put in many hours as an activist, focusing on the needs of the mentally ill and women at risk. Her grassroots activism includes protesting white supremacist activities, leafleting (addressing issues such as the war on terror, the Patriot Act, and other issues concerning individual privacy and freedom), organizing a group of young people to attend the Democratic National Convention, and counseling and assisting at shelters throughout Boston and Cambridge. A member of the UMass Boston Philososphy Club, Heather is currently involved in fundraising for a conference on the Rwandan Genocide.

A reception honoring Sơn ca Lâm, Stephanie Fail, and Heather Turner will be held at the Harbor Gallery in McCormack Hall on Wednesday, April 15th at noon. This event will be preceded by a reading given by writer and activist Carolyn Forché at eleven o'clock. For details or disability-related accommodations, please contact the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at (617) 287-5850.

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