Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 2, 2007|Volume 35, Number 16















Lauren Thompson, Ricardo Sandoval and Yusef Samara, pictured here on the stairway at Woodbridge Hall, are Yale's first Woodbridge Fellows. While working with Yale Officers and senior administrators on a number of special projects, the recent graduates are observing firsthand how University policy is made.

Recent graduates tackling key Yale
projects as Woodbridge Fellows

As undergraduates, Yusuf Samara '05, Ricardo Sandoval '06 and Lauren Thompson '05 were committed to helping Yale provide the best possible community for its students, and were equally devoted to extracurricular pursuits aimed at improving life beyond the University, including in its home city of New Haven.

Now the recent graduates are enjoying the opportunity to engage in and support community-building Yale initiatives as University staff members, an experience that is giving them a different perspective on the role of the University and allowing them to hone their professional skills.

The three alumni are serving in various quarters of the University as Woodbridge Fellows. The position for recent graduates of Yale College is for a one-year term, which can be renewed if warranted. Fellows work on various projects throughout the year, reporting to one of the Officers of the University and to Nina Glickson, assistant to the president.

"Nearly two years ago, the Officers and I recognized a need to attract recent graduates who would be interested in high-level academic administration," says President Richard C. Levin. "We are fortunate this year to have three such individuals who are engaged with key issues facing the University."

According to Glickson, Woodbridge Fellows "must be able to work independently -- while also being able to collaborate with others should the need arise -- and must demonstrate leadership and take initiative."

Adds Glickson, "This year's Woodbridge Fellows have been invaluable in supporting various University initiatives. They have been actively involved in confidential research and briefings for President Levin, our international initiatives under the auspices of the Office of the Secretary, and local Latino outreach for the Office of New Haven and State Affairs. In addition, they have met and interacted with other administrators, as well as faculty, and they have a better understanding of the work of the University."

Thompson, who earned her B.A. in ethics, politics & economics, became the first Woodbridge Fellow when she began working on special projects for Levin and Vice President and Secretary Linda K. Lorimer in August 2005. Samara, who majored in Near Eastern languages and civilizations, and Sandoval, a political science major, were given that title at the start of the fall 2006 semester. Samara splits his time working in the Office of International Affairs, the Office of International Students and Scholars, and the Chaplain's Office, while Sandoval is employed in the Office of New Haven & State Affairs.

Brief profiles of this year's Woodbridge Fellows follow.

Lauren Thompson

Lauren Thompson's responsibilities as a Woodbridge Fellow have included developing creative outreach to students, researching University initiatives and supporting the administration on a variety of special programs.Thompson's first project as a Woodbridge Fellow involved creating "Handsome Dan's Elm City Map," which highlights the many eateries, retail shops, galleries, fitness centers and other venues on or bordering the campus. The map also features information on transportation options, city landmarks and New Haven history, as well as some ideas for ways to spend a morning, afternoon or evening in New Haven. Some 15,000 copies of the new map -- which is already in its second edition -- have been printed on 11.5 x 17-inch paper that folds into a pocket-sized guide.

"The purpose of the map is to provide hip, up-to-date information for new students and visitors," says Thompson. "I tried to be very inclusive, so the map is very comprehensive.

"As a student, I was involved in a lot of activities and public service, and a common theme was: How do you present your message to a wide audience and how do you get people to come to your events? This project involved those same questions on a different level."

Last year, Thompson also designed a logo for Yale's new International Center for Students and Scholars and collaborated with the center's director, Ann Kuhlman, on promoting the new space. In her second year, as staff to the national search for a new University chaplain, Thompson's projects have transitioned from developing student outreach to exploring the inner workings of University policy. "The search has been an interesting process that has taught me about the nature of complex decision making," says Thompson, who also sits on the Yale president's Minority Advisory Council.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Thompson began learning about the management of nonprofit organizations through her activities as a Yale undergraduate. Among her pursuits, she founded the Yale chapter of the College Council for CARE to engage students in the fight against global poverty and, as an intern for Africare in Washington, D.C., drafted a preliminary campaign plan to encourage American students to undertake advocacy work in Africa.

She says that her role as a Woodbridge Fellow has allowed her to combine several of her interests while "acclimating to being a recent graduate." She has most enjoyed working on projects that allow her to learn about problem solving and to collaborate with other Yale staff members.

"Yale students are very innovative and are always coming together to combine their energies for various causes and initiatives. As a Woodbridge Fellow, I've gotten to see that University staff members are just as collaborative," says Thompson, who won numerous undergraduate honors for her commitment to public service.

"The other aspect of being a Woodbridge Fellow that I am enjoying is being able to observe how policies are made behind the scenes," Thompson adds. "I'm working with very creative and energetic people. I'm observing the thoughtful ways in which University policy is made. This experience has taught me to love and embrace the details."

Thompson hopes to apply what she's learned at Yale to a future public interest career helping nonprofits advance policy and advocacy for women in the developing world.

Ricardo Sandoval

When Ricardo Sandoval was first accepted into Yale, some of his family members in Los Angeles had barely heard of the college.

Sandoval, an American-born citizen whose parents are from Mexico, is spending much of his time as a Woodbridge Fellow introducing Yale to the local Latino community.

His responsibilities include highlighting and promoting Yale's involvement in New Haven and making the city's Latino community aware of the University services that are available to them. As such, he is designing a series of full-page ads for publication in the Spanish newspapers Registro and La Voz which highlight Yale attractions and programs that are open to the public, including its museums, a summer sports camp and mentoring programs for city schoolchildren.

In meetings throughout the city, Sandoval is also spreading the word about Yale's growing number of campus offerings designed to welcome Latino community members who only speak Spanish, including tours in Spanish at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. He is also working with Yale organizations to encourage the creation of other programs that are responsive to the Latino community.

"There is the misconception that the University has not done much with the Latino community, when, in fact, different parts of Yale have supported such local community organizations as Casa Otoñal, Arte Inc. and JUNTA for Progressive Action, to name just a few," Sandoval says. "A recent example is that on Three King's Day, the University provided snacks and treats for a celebration of the holiday at Centro San José [a New Haven service agency]."

Sandoval is developing a database of important people, programs and organizations affecting the city's ever-growing Latino community within the University. He has created tours of ethnic neighborhoods for graduate students and is working with the Office of Diversity at the Graduate School and other campus organizations to match graduate students with volunteer positions in those neighborhoods. He'd also like to create a database of volunteer opportunities for graduate students.

Sandoval, who eventually plans to attend business school, has also done some marketing work for University Properties and is currently helping plan "College Night" on Broadway -- an evening event in the spring designed to attract college students in the New Haven area to the retail shopping district. This year, the event will include a fashion show, and Sandoval has been busy enlisting the support of participants for that.

As a Yale undergraduate, Sandoval served as coordinator of La Casa Cultural (the cultural center for Latino students) and founded and served as co-president of Alianza, a pan-Latino student group that unites students interested in learning about and celebrating Latino culture.

Like Thompson, he relishes the opportunity to be participating in behind-the-scenes planning at the University while benefiting from the mentoring of Michael Morand, associate vice president for New Haven and State Affairs, and gaining professional experience.

"In this post, I'm doing things that involve marketing, public relations, event planning and data analysis," he says. "It's great to have a job that is allowing me to learn more about a city that I have grown to love myself, and to be able to develop such varied skills."

Yusuf Samara

Born in Saudi Arabia, Yusuf Samara had lived abroad for much of his life before coming to Yale as an undergraduate.

His international experience -- which included attending middle school in Cyprus and high school in the United Arab Emirates -- has made him particularly sensitive to the needs of other students and scholars who come to the University from other nations. Much of his work as a Woodbridge Fellow involves conducting Middle East outreach for Levin and Lorimer through the Office of International Affairs, developing programs and events with and for international students and faculty, and working with Yale's new associate chaplain, Shamshad Sheikh, on initiatives involving Muslim students.

"A key focus of my activities concerns the internationalization of Yale, and part of that involves supporting and developing programming for international students," says Samara. One project he launched is a five-part public lecture series titled "Understanding America" that is geared toward orienting international students to American society and culture. These lectures by University faculty members explore topics including guns and violence in America, race and ethnicity, American history, politics and religion, and current issues facing the United States, such as school-related violence.

"We have already offered a few of these lectures and the participation from international students has been excellent," says Samara of the new series.

Since Lorimer introduced increased funding for international students earlier this fall, Samara has also worked with student groups that have applied for this funding for their extracurricular activities.

The president of the Muslim Students Association at Yale while he was an undergraduate, Samara has particularly enjoyed the opportunity he has as a Woodbridge Fellow to continue his connection with Muslim students and to assist Aleta Wenger, the newly appointed assistant secretary for international affairs, with the University's Middle East outreach.

"It is really exciting to be part of an effort that is a top priority for the University," says Samara, who also serves on a committee that is setting protocols for Yale's new venture into podcasting.

Among his pursuits as an undergraduate, Samara was a founding member of Jews and Muslims at Yale, a student organization that aims to increase understanding between the two religious groups. He won two top undergraduate prizes in recognition of his intellectual achievements, character and leadership. After graduating, Samara, who also speaks Arabic, spent a year on a Fulbright Scholarship in Syria, where he conducted research on Islamic mysticism (Sufism).

Samara says being a Woodbridge Fellow has allowed him to witness firsthand the workings of the University administration.

"I've now seen the sprawling nature of Yale, which I didn't see as a student," says the graduate. Uncertain about his future plans, Samara is glad for the opportunity to be back in an environment that so shaped him and where he can continue to be involved in interests about which he was passionate while here as a student.

"Being a Woodbridge Fellow has helped me by allowing me to be in a familiar place," he explains. "It gives me more time to decide what I want to do, such as whether to stay in academia, while I work on projects that impact the campus community and Yale's international image."

-- By Susan Gonzalez


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