News, Profiles

Newman Fellow reaches out to children in Haiti

Yinghui Sun // Staff Photographer

Yinghui Sun // Staff Photographer

When Guerdiana Thelomar planned to start her summer camp in Haiti, she never expected to be selected as the University of Miami’s 2014 Frank Newman Fellow.

The award recognizes students working toward social change. Her summer camp will begin this summer.

“I submitted my application, Friday, February 28 and the following week I found out. I was like ‘woah, didn’t I just send this yesterday?’” she said.

Thelomar, a double major in human and social development and visual journalism, found out about the award March 5. The selection of the Newman Civic Fellow is part of a national initiative by Campus Compact, an organization dedicated to strengthening the connection between higher education and effective community engagement.

According to Vanessa Navarro, a member on the selection committee of the civic fellow award, Thelomar was recognized for her project called Generation Hope: Haiti Summer Camp, which is a three-day program for children in Haiti that will seek to foster self-esteem, explore passions and teach skills to gear youth to create change.

Thelomar’s project also landed her a spot in the Clinton Global Initiative that hosts an annual meeting to affect world change.

“Thelomar’s current project was inspired by a conversation with a young man living in the Haitian village from where members of her family immigrated, in which he expressed to her an almost complete lack of hope for his future,” said psychology professor Laura Kohn-Wood, who wrote one of Thelomar’s recommendation letters.

Thelomar met the person who inspired her project in Port-au-Prince and was moved by what he had said to her.

“There was one kid, and I asked him what he wanted to be and he said ‘in Haiti you don’t dream,’” said Thelomar, who admits that the environment she witnessed in trips to cities in Haiti, such as St. Marc, Cange, Gonaives and Port-au- Prince, shapes youth to lack ambition.

Including Thelomar, a group of six UM students, comprised of sophomores and juniors, applied for the fellowship. They were looking to join the other 196 students chosen as Newman Civic Fellows from colleges across the nation.

The award specifically honors individuals who show leadership potential that is assisted by their college education. At UM, a selection committee from the Butler Center and the Office of Civic and Community Engagement evaluated the applications.

Navarro said she was impressed with Thelomar’s involvement.

“The work she’s doing is a reflection of what the university can offer to students who are dedicated and focused,” Navarro said. “She’s using the resources of the university to their full advantage and on multiple levels she does so much.”

Thelomar believes Haiti’s youth is capable of improving their situations.

“I want to empower young Haitians to have the courage to dream,” she said. “If you put them in a context where they have the freedom to discuss solutions to problems in their community great things will happen.”

March 23, 2014

Reporters

Chloe Herring

Contributing News Writer


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

University of Miami athletic director Blake James has no intention of pressuring or forcing coach Ma ...

He’s certainly not a veteran, but for the first time in his college football career, redshirt freshm ...

This November feels a lot more like March for the 24th-ranked University of Miami women’s basketball ...

For a month at a time, Louis Hedley would find himself in the deserts of Australia. His chances at m ...

It has been a trying season for college football fans of two Sunshine State programs: Florida State ...

The On Campus event featured innovative National Geographic Explorers—photographers, scientists, sto ...

UM Professor of Law Frances R. Hill tells us what we should know. ...

An international study led by University of Miami tropical biologists reveals that tropical trees ar ...

UM’s robotics team recently obtained a new robot with the goal of helping aging individuals. ...

New student organization’s mission is a movement to return to the ‘roots’ of natural hair. ...

N'Kosi Perry wants to build off his showing at Georgia Tech with another strong performance thi ...

University of Miami head volleyball coach Jose "Keno" Gandara is excited to announce the s ...

Isaiah Wong and Anthony Walker will join Canes for 2019-20 season. ...

Three University of Miami men's tennis student-athletes – Adria Soriano Barrera, Bojan Jankulov ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team checks in at seventh in the country in ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.