Sabyne Pierre awarded Newman Civic Fellowship

by Claudia Bernstein | 5/3/18 2:35am

by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth

“An effervescent, magnetic, amazing human being with a heart of gold,” associate director of Dartmouth’s Center for Social Impact Ashley Doolittle said of Sabyne Pierre ’20. These qualities have made her “an obvious choice” to receive the 2018 Newman Civic Fellowship, Doolittle added.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is given by Campus Compact, a nationwide program dedicated to advancing the work of college students who demonstrate a commitment to civic engagement and social service. According to Doolittle, the Newman Civic Fellowship is meant to identify “rising star students,” typically sophomores, to both recognize the dedication they have already shown in civic engagement while also providing mentorship and resources to further their work. DCSI nominates one student each year to be considered for the fellowship.

Pierre said her interest community service is rooted in her deep sense of giving back to her own community. Her first experiences with social change and service came through her mother. She spent time in high school volunteering at the same food pantry that her mother had brought food home from earlier in Pierre’s childhood. Additionally, Pierre said she has a deep connection to social service in Haiti, where her mother was from.

“In 2010, after the earthquake in Haiti, my mom took us to Haiti because she wanted [my siblings and I] to see what had happened to her home and her community,” Pierre said. “In addition to that, we brought a lot of clothes and canned goods to the community there. So after that experience I decided that I wanted to go back and do more. Since then, I’ve been wanting to go back.”

Pierre’s involvement with social service at the College began in the summer of 2017 when she was given funding by DCSI to intern at Lava Mae, a nonprofit organization that operates mobile trucks that provide free showers to the homeless population in San Francisco.

“Showers are such a simple thing, but at the same time it has such a tremendous impact on the homeless community,” Pierre said. “It was a beautiful thing to be a part of.”

She said that after such a fulfilling experience working with Lava Mae, she wanted to do more. Director of the First Year Student Enrichment Program and former director of Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth Jay Davis ’90, whom Pierre had met during the pre-orientation for FYSEP, urged her to apply to intern at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, a partner school of SEAD, according to Pierre. During her internship, she mentored 10 high school students and acted as a college access intern. Pierre said that working with the students was especially meaningful to her because she felt she could identify with them.

“It was really cool to be on the other side of things because I come from a school like that, I come from a school in the hood basically, and being able to provide mentorship and opportunities to students who reminded me a lot of myself in high school was really moving and allowed me to get really close to the students,” Pierre said.

Davis nominated Pierre for the Newman Civic fellowship and will be her official mentor for the fellowship as well, she said.

A major part of the fellowship is that it provides fellows with either an alum or faculty member to act as a mentor, according to Doolittle. The mentors meet with their fellows regularly to provide the them with direction for their plans and projects in social engagement.

According to Davis, Pierre’s deep love for working with young people in education, combined with her commitment to returning to Haiti and providing service there made her well-suited to receive the fellowship. Davis said that Pierre’s energy, passions and ability were evident to him from the very beginning.

“Through our conversations it became clear that she was really orientated towards service and towards the idea of trying to make things better than when she found them and that is laudable,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if someday, she ends up directing her own non-profit working with under resourced youth in Haiti.”

Davis said that part of his work as a mentor for Pierre will be to help her identify funding sources to sponsor internship opportunities with a nonprofit in Haiti. Pierre said she hopes to find funding through DCSI in order to travel to Haiti and to get involved in improving clean water availability there. According to Pierre, her interest in the importance of water is a continuation of her work with providing water for showers when she worked with Lava Mae.

“I’ve done research in the past with water filters and understanding different water filters in the market for developing countries. Water is such a simple thing but it provides so many opportunities. It affects a community drastically,” Pierre said.

Pierre also expressed that she could envision herself someday owning a nonprofit.

“Nonprofit management is in my goals and dreams for the future, possibly learning nonprofit management in business school. That’s the dream,” Pierre said.

The fellowship, in addition to providing mentorship and training, will allow Pierre the opportunity to meet and engage in discussions with fellows from other colleges affiliated with Campus Compact. The fellowship funds trips to Boston and Washintgon, D.C. where the fellows meet and make connections with one another. It also allows current fellows to meet and begin to network with fellows from past years who have used the fellowship to pursue further civic leadership.

According to Doolittle, whether Pierre decides to do work in Haiti or return to San Francisco, the connections that she makes with current and former fellows will provide her with “solid network of students who want to make systemic change.”

Correction appended (May 3, 2018): This article has been updated to reflect Jay Davis's correct title.