We draw on a diverse and energetic group of Freethinkers – senior volunteers, interns, and students dedicated to changing perspectives by raising awareness.
Emma Wilfert is a member of Amherst College class of 2020. She majors in English and also enjoys theater, horseback riding on Amherst’s Equestrian Team, and writing for the school newspaper, the Amherst Student. In addition to being a member of Amherst’s Education Professions fellowship, she has hands-on experience volunteering in classrooms from Stanford University to Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to the Holyoke Adult Learning Center in Holyoke, MA.
Lilly Sterenberg is a member of the Pitzer College Class of '20, with an interest in psychology. She attended Fieldston School in New York City, she was a four-year member of the Women’s Leadership program and a leader of the Queer-Straight Alliance. She created awareness about inclusivity, intersectionality, and identity. Her senior project involved teaching elementary students about gender, planning sexual consent awareness days, and facilitating discussions with middle and high schoolers.
Talia Cantor is an English major at Dickinson College ’19. She attended Ramsey High School in NJ where she was a writer and editor for the school paper, led the Environmental Club, and volunteered at MEVO, an award winning environmental group focused on sustainability, conservation, and activism. She studied Environmental Sustainability at UVM, and volunteered at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk in CT. At Dickinson, she is Director of Taglit-Birthright Israel through the Asbell Center.
Maya Gemson is in the '17 class of Fieldston School, which has sparked her passion for social justice. Growing up with negative media portrayals of kids who were passionate about issues as “uncool,” her experience has changed her perception on what it means to care. She also organized community service work in the South Bronx, delving into issues within the public education system, and created a project working with special needs children to organize a food drive for the greater Bronx community.
Lexa Harpel is a member of the Amherst Class of '20, focused on neuroscience, psychology, and medicine. She is interested in the connection between neuroscience and mental illness and wants to be a pediatric neurologist. She graduated Fieldston School and was a leader in the service-learning department, a member of Students Modeling A Research Topic (in conjunction with Rockefeller U), the Community Service Advisory Board, and co-led The Mind Matters Club, focusing on the issue of stigma.
Carisa Shah is a member of the class of '18 at The Dalton School. She is particularly interested in the issue of Bullying, and is working on a program to combat cyberbullying in her community. She is an active member of her school’s community service club, and enjoys the monthly visits to senior centers where she helps seniors with technology. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis, reading, and cooking.
Peri Kessler is a student at Staples High School in CT, where she is the president of the school’s mock trial team and has competed in a national competition on constitutional law. An intern at a domestic violence crisis center, Peri also utilizes writing, poetry, and music to bring attention to women’s rights, writing and performing slam poetry. She has also co-created a podcast and written opinion pieces on issues such as criminal justice reform, the refugee crisis, and education inequality.
Alegria Martinez is a media studies major at Pitzer College, class of '18. A native of Southern California, Alegria works to educate people on societal issues through art, news, video, and social media/media. She studied film production, screenwriting, and social justice In New York, where she worked for a non-profit as their volunteer media intern at Sarah Lawrence College.
Jordan Bekenstein is a Russian major in the Amherst College Class of '17. He has a close family member who suffers from severe depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. He became aware of how little the general public understands Mental Health, and interested in what he could do to improve both his own awareness and that of others. Jordan is an avid fan of Peer Gynt (the music and the play) and The Empire Strikes Back, and perhaps surprisingly to many, prefers Moscow to St. Petersburg.
Nicole Fortune is a psychology and black studies double major at Amherst College, with a particular interest in reducing the stigma of mental illness, especially among minorities. She belongs to Amherst’s Active Minds club, which seeks to raise awareness about mental illness among college students, and helped develop their “The World Needs You” awareness campaign.
Samantha Nash attends the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in NYC, where she co-founded an Academic Integrity Board that handles issues of academic integrity. She also helped establish the Support Center, a tutoring program focused on de-stigmatizing learning differences, and serves as its student government representative. Sam’s interests range from 19th century classic novels, to linguistics, the philosophy of shapes, creative writing, exploring creative approaches to activism.
Brooke Kessler attends Staples High School in CT. She is passionate about issues that deserve more attention than typically given by the mainstream media, and hosts a podcast that discusses topics such as foreign policy in Nigeria, the prosecutor’s role in the criminal justice system, and the importance of free speech and privacy in the digital age. She’s a teen trainer for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), teaching students and parents ways to combat prejudice, discrimination, and hate.
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