Yale Bulletin and Calendar

March 3, 2000Volume 28, Number 23

Julianna Schantz-Dunn

Hockey player is humanitarian outside the rink

Women's hockey team captain Julianna Schantz-Dunn, one of five finalists for the 2000 College Hockey Humanitarian Award, became interested in community service a little earlier than most people -- in the second grade, to be exact.

Walking to school with her mother through downtown Cambridge, eight year old Schantz-Dunn noticed homeless people collecting aluminum cans. "One day I had this epiphany," she says. "If they just raised the deposit price on cans, then these people would be able to make more money."

Encouraged by her mother, Schantz-Dunn wrote to Coca-Cola asking that they double the five-cent return on their cans. Although her effort was unsuccessful -- Coca-Cola wrote back explaining that deposit prices were set by the state -- this experience marked the beginning of the Yale student's desire to help those in need.

When she arrived at Yale, Schantz-Dunn assumed that community service would remain a large part of her life, like it was at Philips Exeter Academy, where she headed the community service program while playing three sports, including hockey. However, she discovered that hockey at Yale, with its two-hour practices, weightlifting sessions and travel, left her little time to spare.

"At first I was only playing hockey, doing schoolwork, and I just wasn't very happy," she recalls. "I really missed being involved with the community as I had been in high school. Those kinds of activities were important to me. I needed to find a way to make time for them."

She joined the Community Outreach Committee (COC), an organization set up by the Athletics Department to find community service opportunities for athletes, and found that she could remain active in the community -- participating in Youth Days and mentoring an eighth-grade girl -- with just a small time commitment. "I found ways to be involved," she says. "I'm very grateful to be at Yale where there are these opportunities and resources to take advantage of."

By her junior year, Schantz-Dunn was captain of the women's hockey team and pursuing a double major in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, and ethnicity, race and migration. She found that even the small time commitment that her COC responsibilities required were too taxing and again decided to concentrate on hockey and schoolwork.

Just a few weeks into the fall, however, she became interested in Estudiantes Unitos (Students United), a program which puts Yale students into bilingual classrooms as teacher's aides. Despite her other commitments, Schantz-Dunn, who is fluent in Spanish, found the time to volunteer two hours a week in a second-grade classroom at the Vincent Mauro School in New Haven.

With so little free time during the school year, breaks have been opportunities for Schantz-Dunn to really get involved in community service. The summer after her freshman year, she received a fellowship from the Association of Yale Alumni to work for Hephzibah Children's Association, a child welfare program in Chicago, Illinois. As a case aide, Schantz-Dunn supervised parent-child visits, attended court proceedings and befriended a child going through adoption proceedings.

This past summer, with money from a Gatorade internship and the Calhoun College Richter Fund, Schantz-Dunn traveled to Peru to work with Asociacion Benefica PRISMA, a non-governmental organization that gives out micro-credit loans to small businesses and farmers, and manages maternal and child nutrition programs. Through PRISMA's public health investigation unit, she was placed in a small northern village with another American, a medical student. She assisted a local nurse and doctor on a malaria project, taking fecal samples to test for parasites and interviewing adult villagers about their understanding of malaria.

One of Schantz-Dunn's most "amazing" weeks in Peru was when she traveled on her own to assist the Peruvian-American Medical Society. The group of Peruvian-American doctors and their U.S. colleagues returns to the South American country once a year to offer free surgery and clinical care to the indigent population. Schantz-Dunn worked primarily as a translator, but was twice allowed to serve as first assistant on surgeries, something she admits she would never have been allowed to do in the United States.

Although the Calhoun College senior has long thought about going to medical school, her experiences in Peru solidified her determination to become a doctor. "We did a cleft-lip surgery on a baby," Schantz-Dunn says. "We brought the baby out and the parents just started crying. The doctors just transformed how he looked, and the parents would never have been able to afford the operation. It was just amazing and touching."

A four-time letter winner and recipient of the Most Improved Player award as a freshman, Schantz-Dunn sees no irony in being both a humanitarian and a hockey player. Like community service, hockey was something she started at an early age. Her sister introduced her to the sport when she was 11, and she can't imagine what her Yale experience would have been like if she had chosen not to play.

"Although I found that it was very time-consuming my freshman year, I don't know what I would have done not playing hockey," she says. "It's been a really great experience. All the women that I've played with have been wonderful. I would have missed out on meeting a lot of nice people. It's been really hard, but it's been a growing and learning experience in a lot of ways, especially pulling through the losses. My coaches are wonderful too. Nominating me for this award is a huge honor for me -- I was completely surprised -- and I thank them for that."

For those who think that there's just no time to spare to be involved in community service, Schantz-Dunn advises, "There definitely are opportunities to become even a little involved. Just one or two hours a week is all it takes."

-- By JinAh Lee


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