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Photo above: Stony Brook’s Millennium Fellows — Back row (left to right): Husbaan Sheikh, Kelly Wang, Nayarit Tineo, Erin Byers and Isabella Bouklas; Front row (left to right): Alexandra Eck, Allison Strauss and Lakshta Kunda (not pictured: Myra Arshad, Sabrina Duquesnay and Agam Singh)

From Eleven SBU Students Chosen for Selective Millennium Fellows Program on Stony Brook University News, September 19, 2019.

Eleven Stony Brook students are among a select group from 69 colleges around the globe chosen for the Millennium Fellowship, a partnership between the Millennium Campus Network and the United Nations Academic Impact initiative and the Millennium Campus Network. The students are all working on various projects that focus on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year there was a record 7,020 applications for this selective program from young leaders on 1,209 campuses across 135 nations.

The students — all from Stony Brook’s Center for Civic Justice — are Myra Arshad, Isabella Bouklas, Erin Byers, Sabrina Duquesnay, Alexandra Eck, Lakshta Kundal, Husbaan Sheikh, Agam Singh, Allison Strauss, Nayarit Tineo and Kelly Wang. Bouklas and Kundal are the student co-campus directors for the program. Myra Arshad is an Ecosystems and Human Impact major and Lakshta Kundal is Coastal Environmental Studies major. Both students are members of the Earthworm Toxicology Lab lead by Dr. Sharon Pochron.

“We are incredibly proud of our students who were selected to be Millennium Fellows and who are seeking to creative positive change in their communities,” said Steven Adelson, Coordinator, Center for Civic Justice, Department of Student Community Development. “The students’ projects are a testament to their innovation, ability to think critically about their communities and issues affecting them, and long-term vision for improving the human condition. We are excited about what they all will accomplish this semester and beyond.”

Launched in 2018, the selective Millennium Fellowship is a semester-long leadership development program. Students receive the fellowship based on their leadership on sustainable development-related projects that advance the SDGs in their communities. As Millennium Fellows, they will participate in a leadership development program to improve their student organizing, partnership building and community impact skills. This year’s class is set to positively impact the lives of more than 978,400 people across the globe. Here’s how some of the Stony Brook projects will be part of that important work.

Isabella Bouklas’ social impact project is an automatic redistricting software that will provide an alternative framework for redistricting that prioritizes political fairness. This project is a concerted effort from a team of computer science and social science students with a passion for justice and making the government work in a way that serves its people. Their hope is that the program will equip the American public with the tools to put an end to gerrymandering and combat institutional voter suppression.

“What excites me the most about this fellowship is the amount of innovation that arises when passionate young people encounter frustrating social problems,” Bouklas said. “Working in this network of truly brilliant student leaders around the globe is such a privilege, and I cannot wait to see how this group of fellows will change the world for the better.”

Lakshta Kundal’s Plastic-Free Project (PFP) serves to educate, challenge, and inspire college students to shift from conventional to conscious living. PFP calls all students to take part in a 21-day challenge uniquely designed to help them develop eco-conscious lifestyle habits to tackle today’s most pressing environmental issues, especially ocean pollution, with the opportunity to win prizes and awards.

“I am most excited about the opportunity to pursue my passion for environmental conservation with ambitious game-changers from all over the world,” Kundal said. “I strongly believe in the power of social impact, and I am so thankful to serve as a leader on my University’s campus as well as be a part of tomorrow’s bright future as a Millennium Fellow.”

Sabrina Duquesnay is focusing on a student-led movement for educational equity. “I want to help to integrate immensely segregated school systems like those in New York City through policy proposals, youth-adult partnerships, advocacy campaigns, shared testimonies, and by inspiring other youth to elevate their voices, through partnership with Teens Take Charge, a program dedicated to empowering youth across the nation to have a say in their education,” she said. “On campus, I aim to raise awareness and to directly impact the achievement gap by offering a host of free, volunteer-funded programs that assist students academically and creatively.”

Erin Byers and Husbaan Sheikh are working on the Pathway to Citizenship project, which is a six-week class to educate non-citizens on the naturalization process for low to no cost. The project will be a comprehensive guide on becoming a citizen and will address individual concerns with the process. They hope to fully implement the class in Spring 2020.

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