Uganda-bound sociology major wins Lacey award

May 5, 2016

Nichole Ciccarelli ’18, a Saint Michael’s College rising junior from North Haven, CT, and the fall semester 2016 recipient of the Brian Lacey International Fellowship in Social Justice award, will embark to Gulu, Uganda, for the School for International Training’s Post-Conflict Transformation semester program.

A sociology major with a minor in psychology, Nichole hopes to become a social worker. She also is a student leader for a local MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts) program as well as an Extended Service Committee member and leader.

For her independent research in Uganda, she plans to explore in-depth the psychological and counseling resources available to displaced and marginalized people after recent turmoil in the African nation through direct engagement with existing agencies and the people themselves.

“I believe it is important to address mental health in a holistic way, especially in developing countries, as the clinical aspects of such services as we in America understand them may not  necessarily be effective or desired methods,” she said. “I hope to return from my studies with an insight into the differences across our cultures with which mental health is addressed, specifically in light of tragedy or trauma.”

“The resources at our college have opened my eyes to the value of service to others not as an act of charity, but rather as a lifestyle decision with the purpose of making our world a better place piece by piece,” Nichole wrote in her application to the Lacey award’s selection committee. “Through my service, I focus on unifying the populations of people I work alongside with each other and us as students. I look forward to the possible opportunity to share what I will learn with a community of interested and aware people in order to spread awareness about issues and efforts in terms of social and political transformation.”

She said the SIT program she has chosen “will be the largest leap out of my comfort zone thus far. I view the Post-Conflict Transformation program in Uganda as an invitation for me to open my mind past the liberation of people in the United States and take it even further in order to understand what works and does not work to bring together in social environments globally.”

“In order to better understand and value ourselves, we must first start by doing such for others,” she said. “I believe that by understanding how those in Uganda are rebuilding socially, politically and economically after such displacement and turmoil, we may begin to better understand our place in not only our own social and political issues, but even learn how to better participate in world changes to avoid such conflicts, no matter the scope.”

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.

The $2,500 award will help support her studies and activities while in Uganda and surrounding areas — particularly during the independent research period of the program – and help cover unanticipated expenses.

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