Lacey award helps student study Tanzania water issues

August 19, 2015

Meghan VanStry ’17, a Saint Michael’s College rising junior from Medford, MA, and recent recipient of the Brian Lacey International Fellowship in Social Justice Award, aims to combine passions for the environment, human rights and social justice during a Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology program in Tanzania this fall.

The SIT (School for International Training)-run experience is a field-based program that will include two home-stays, a three-week safari and an independent study project for VanStry, who has a double-major in business administration and environmental studies at Saint Michael’s.

In her application for the $2,500 award, VanStry, who is on the Justice and Sustainability Track within her Environmental Studies major,  noted that “environmental issues and social justice often go hand in hand; when the environment is degraded, human lives are also degraded.”

“My goal is to be able to increase my ability to empathize with and relate to the international community as well as to be able to share this with ours upon my return,” she said. VanStry hopes to put her award toward equipment she’ll need on the program: a soft-frame backpack, tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, headlamp, binoculars and water purifier, along with appropriate tropical clothing, a durable camera, vaccinations and medications not covered by insurance.

Her independent study project in Tanzania will concern water, looking at the history of that nation’s water infrastructure and the relationship Tanzanians have with water. “The availability of clean drinking water is arguably the biggest human rights issue in the world,” she said in her application for the Lacey Award. She also wrote in a Study Abroad personal statement, “To me, global citizenship is being able to empathize with others around the world, despite distance and differences in culture because we are all part of the same humanity.”

The Brian Lacey International Fellowship in Social Justice is designed to encourage and honor students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement as well as a dedication to a deeper understanding of issues and social-justice. This merit-and need-based award is intended to recognize students who show initiative, imagination and motivation to apply their academic skills to the betterment of humanity.

The fellowship is offered once each semester. They are funded through gifts from Brian Lacey ’72 — president of Lacey Entertainment, a New York-based worldwide television marketing, production and distribution company. Lacey is also founder and director of the Kilkea Foundation, a non-profit organization that encourages and honors excellence in the humanities, arts and sciences. This benefactor also has established the Henry G. Fairbanks Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Saint Michael’s through the Kilkea Foundation.

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