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Harpur Fellows 2012

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View photos from this year's Harpur Fellow projects. . . . . . . . . . .

Even though the Chernobyl nuclear disaster took place more than 26 years ago, Natalia Chapovalova knows that it still affects daily life in Belarus. The senior psychology major visited relatives in the region in 2011, and saw children suffering from mental and physical handicaps. Her grandparents’ farm was across the road from a field lined with radioactivity signs. The visit put two thoughts in Chapovalova’s mind: Helping those in need and becoming a Harpur Fellow.

“I went back (to Belarus) last summer and it inspired me to pursue this project,” she said. “I saw the effect that Chernobyl had on people. I believed that the Harpur fellowship could be a vehicle for me to put this plan into action. Without the fellowship, I wouldn’t be able to help like this.”

Chapovalova was one of five Harpur College students to receive a fellowship for the 2011-12 school year. The program — made possible by the support of Harpur College alumni and donors — provides up to $4,000 for undergraduates to pursue a self-designed project that helps improve a community. The recipients fulfill their fellowship when they are not taking classes, so they can devote full attention to the project. Past projects have revitalized a Staten Island library reading program and helped Binghamton-area girls express themselves through writing.

“The Harpur Fellows program is the epitome of student engagement,” Interim Dean Wayne Jones said. “From identifying a community project which ignites their passion, through design and implementation stemming from their curriculum, these students demonstrate their commitment to excellence and leadership which are the foundation of Harpur College.”

The newest Harpur Fellows — Chapovalova, Munira Pulodi, Cathy Hao, Derek Gumb and Raimi A. Ade-Salu — are helping children, educators and counselors in countries from Belarus to Guatemala to the United States, while spreading the word about the care and excellence that comes from Binghamton University and Harpur College.

“‘Harpur Fellow’ is a big name to live up to,” Chapovalova said. “It makes me want to be sure that I can make a difference in people’s lives. This fellowship gives me the power to carry my program out. It brings a lot of legitimacy to the project.”

Read about each of the 2012 Harpur Fellow's projects:

•  A winning program in Guatemala, Raimi A. Ade-Salu

•  'Poverty is not eternal' in Tajikistan, Munira Pulodi

•  A lesson in caring in Binghamton, Derek Gumb

•  Art therapy in Belarus, Natalia Chapovalova

•  The transformation of a Chinese school, Cathy Hao

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Last Updated: 12/10/14