Abbey Brophy ‘17, a Saint Michael’s College junior from Canton, CT, and the spring semester recipient of the Brian Lacey International Fellowship in Social Justice award, will take university classes in Ecuador and live with an Ecuadorian family. She also hopes to perform 12- to 15 hours of weekly service at residential home for homeless girls.
A secondary education and history major with a Spanish minor, Brophy also aims to become fluent in Spanish while living in Guayaquil, Ecuador, as part of the International Program of Service. “I believe the only way for me to become fluent is to surround myself with Spanish,” she wrote in her application.
She selected Ecuador for a “unique experience,” and anticipates an adjustment period to Ecuadorian culture and lifestyle, having never traveled before to South America. “I wanted my study abroad experience to push me out of my comfort zone and force me to look at myself and the world from a different perspective,” she said.
Already deeply involved in Saint Michael’s service work through Edmundite Campus Ministry’s MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts) program, Brophy said it was important to her for service to part of her semester’s experience. She has been a MOVE Middle School mentor for three years and joined an extended service trip to Florida, working with migrant farm workers.
Beyond taking classes at the Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo, Brophy’s goal is to be placed while in Ecuador with an agency that provides a home to young girls turned out of their homes -- working as a tutor and leading activities. “I believe empowering women and girls leads to a better society,” she said.
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.