POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Dorien Ediger-Seto and Jackson Kroopf, both members of the Vassar class of 2010, have been awarded Compton Mentor Fellowships for 2010-11. Vassar is one of just ten schools nationwide participating this year in the innovative fellowship program, sponsored by the Compton Foundation.
Dorien Ediger-Seto, from Las Vegas, New Mexico, was a double major in geography and Latin American Latina/o studies. She will work for the year in Florence, Arizona, with mentor Lindsay N. Marshall, executive director of the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, on a project entitled “Post-Trauma Relief and Law Enforcement Accountability in the Detention of Unaccompanied Undocumented Minors in Arizona.”
She writes that: “100,000 children attempt to cross into the United States via the Mexico border each year. Violence, physical, emotional, and structural, pervades the migratory experience for all migrants, but especially for unaccompanied children. Working in conjunction with The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP), my project will have four major components. Though they are distinct from each other, each addresses an aspect of the detention and deportation system that relates to dignity, as well as to violence, trauma, and the healing process.” She adds that, “I am excited. It’s an honor to be able to do this project.”
Jackson Kroopf, is a native of Los Angeles who majored in the Independent Program at Vassar, will be working with mentor Theodore Arrington, CEO and executive director of R.E.A.L. Skills Network Inc., on a project entitled “Mission: R.E.A.L. Hip-Hop Theater” in Poughkeepsie.
Kroopf writes that “R.E.A.L. Hip-Hop Theater is both a social change theater and youth development program in which Poughkeepsie High School students and Vassar College students collaborate to create an original multi-media theatrical production surrounding issues that directly reflect the lives of the group’s participants. The program confronts the causes and effects of oppression and segregation that its participants face, and artistically strategizes ways to confront and transform these conditions using the tools of performance, hip-hop, and media. By crafting our production around not only our local/global reality, but also future dreams, our productions seek to represent the possibility of a world in which inequality is critiqued, hegemony is subverted, difference is appreciated, and knowledge is shared.”
As program coordinator of R.E.A.L. Hip-Hop Theater, Jackson will be connecting Vassar students and faculty from the education and drama departments with Poughkeepsie youth through a dynamic social justice curriculum focused on the translation of anti-oppressive theories into performance praxis. After networking with other social justice youth groups throughout the country, Jackson hopes to bring R.E.A.L. Hip-Hop Theater to other urban youth communities in the Hudson Valley through interactive performance workshops.
About the Compton Mentor Fellowship Program
Vassar is one of ten schools participating in this innovative program.
Each school was asked to submit two nominations for consideration, with a total of seven Compton Fellows selected. The Compton Foundation created the Mentor Fellowship Program to promote the creativity and support the commitment of graduating seniors as they move beyond academic preparation to focus on continuing “real world” application and contribution. The Fellowship is intended to be for one year (with a stipend of $35,000), beginning and ending at the annual mid-July gathering of Fellows held in the San Francisco area.
The Compton Mentor Fellowship Program is based on the belief that life-changing experiences occur when formal learning becomes transformed by action. Such complementary learning helps one see—and appreciate—the larger world through different eyes and a broadened perspective. In a sense, each Fellow co-creates the program: the pragmatic, self-directed nature of the Fellowship experience is meant to deepen and enrich knowledge, and guide Fellows to apply new understanding of themselves and the world in original ways.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.