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French, Danish, UK Partnerships Advance Research, Education Endeavors

The University of Pittsburgh strengthened its existing partnerships with European institutes with a trans-Atlantic trip in April by Pitt officials, including Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, to renew agreements with Newcastle University in England and universities in France.

“Partnerships like the ones we have in Europe and other countries across the world are beneficial not only for the University of Pittsburgh’s research efforts, but also for our students and faculty, who get a taste of each country’s unique academic offerings through our exchange programs. In turn, students and faculty from these partner institutions also get a taste of the city of Pittsburgh’s culture,” said Ariel ArmonyUniversity Center for International Studies director and vice provost for global affairs, who traveled with the chancellor, as well as with European Studies Center Director Jae-Jae Spoon and Associate Director Allyson Delnore.

Along with this recent visit, Pitt, the City of Pittsburgh and the Danish Energy Agency in March entered into a partnership to collaborate on energy planning and research.

Newcastle University

Pitt entered into an agreement in 2016 with Newcastle University in the United Kingdom for an undergraduate student exchange program, allowing one student per year on either side to study at the partner institution for one semester or one year.

The agreement between Pitt and Newcastle University was renewed in April, signifying the strength of the partnership to explore new avenues for cooperation across several disciplines. To date, there have been a dozen exchanges of faculty and graduate students who have conducted research in history, chemistry, physics, Latin American studies and engineering and shale policy. While abroad, the scholars participate in public engagement activities, teaching projects and staff and student exchanges.

“Though an ocean divides us, the similarities between Newcastle University and the University of Pittsburgh are compelling and clear,” said Gallagher. “I am grateful for our shared values — and the warm welcome we’ve received — and I look forward to continuing to work together to change the world in powerful and positive ways.” 

Partnerships in France

In France, Pitt has had agreements with INSA Lyon; Sciences Po Lyon; University of Lyon II and Université Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne, since 2013. The programs include the fields of film studies, European Union studies, urban studies, engineering and policy studies related to energy.

Pitt, Sciences Po Lyon and Université Jean Monnet will exchange study tours of graduate students and faculty working on urban development and policymaking within a wider research network. Their focus, on cities and energy, will be coordinated by Pitt’s European Studies Center.

Pitt’s Study Abroad Office and Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures are working with Lyon II to develop a comprehensive Pitt in Lyon Panther Program, which will be the main study-abroad site for Pitt students of French at every level, from beginning to advanced. This program is designed so that Pitt students will be able to complete general education requirements in French or English while pursuing French language studies and experiencing life in France.

Discussions have also begun with INSA Lyon to open up new, to-be-determined internship opportunities to Pitt students. In addition, coursework options in trans-Atlantic studies with Sciences Po Lyon are in the works.

Lastly, Lyon II has an existing faculty exchange program where French film professors teach courses for a semester at Pitt, and Pitt faculty teach film courses for a semester in Lyon. Mark Lynn Anderson, director of graduate studies for the Pitt Film and Media Studies Program, and Lyon film professor Sébastien David are set to participate this fall.

“This (faculty exchange) program lets our students have a cultural exchange without needing to travel and vice versa,” said David Pettersen, associate professor of French and film and media studies at Pitt, who taught in Lyon in 2015 as part of the program. “The French higher education system has a much different model of teaching that’s more professor-driven and more about expertise sharing. I brought in the American, conversational, dialogue-driven style of pedagogy that French students hadn’t had the chance to experience.”

So far, the exchange has been limited to faculty, but there are plans to include students from both institutions starting in spring 2019.

Danish Energy Agency

Another new collaboration promises to take shape in Pittsburgh itself as well.

At the University’s Energy GRID Institute in March, Mayor Bill Peduto, Danish ambassador to the U.S. Lars Gert Lose and Gregory Reed, director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute, signed an agreement to build an exchange between Pittsburgh’s energy decision-makers and Danish experts to develop more sustainable, low-cost and resilient energy systems.

Copenhagen and Pittsburgh will share best practices in energy design, and Danish experts will offer details of Denmark’s energy initiatives for application to the Pittsburgh region. A future goal is to enhance the implementation of community microgrids for both thermal and electric power supply to parts of the region.

In addition, the University plans to provide its own energy experts through its Center for Energy, housed in the Swanson School of Engineering, and the GRID Institute, to collaborate with the Danes and the city. Pitt’s plans also include helping to build a data-driven model to increase sustainability for the city without creating financial burden, Reed said. 

“Not only will this partnership help to cement Pitt’s work in district energy and microgrids, it will also afford us the opportunity to attract further investment towards projects in the city itself, which is needed for deploying more resilient, clean and intelligent energy infrastructures,” said Reed.

Read the PittWire story.

Teaching Center Helps Students in Sicily Create 360-degree Tours of Archaeological Sites

Standing among the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater of Siracusa in Sicily — an island just south of Italy — Pitt senior Jonathan Dyer gives a tour of what was once one of the area’s largest gladiator arenas. He points out the warrior’s main entrance at the southern end, a pit for holding beasts and machinery in the center, the main road leading into the theater hidden by brush just beyond Dyer’s left shoulder.

The tour is part of a YouTube series produced by Pitt undergraduates during the 2017 Pitt in Sicily Study Abroad Program. From a brief history of the City of Catania to a tour of the Temple of Segesta, viewers experience close-up views of some of Sicily’s most historic locations.

The series originated as a project for founder and Department of Classics professor Jacques A. Bromberg’s Greek Archaeology course as part of Pitt in Sicily. As with Bromberg’s past Sicilian excursions, a research paper on a specific archaeological site was required. But for the first time in 2017, Pitt’s Open Lab, an on-campus makerspace, complemented the students’ efforts with 360-degree cameras and long-distance tech support. Allowing for full panoramic views of the sites, these cameras turned a standard research assignment into a unique learning experience for the students and for viewers worldwide. 

“Sicily is a beautiful place to live and learn. A simple research paper would not have done justice to the city or the sites we studied,” said Dyer, a Chancellor’s Scholar from Rexburg, Idaho, who is pursuing degrees in mathematics and computer science. “The cameras definitely added a different dimension to the project, pushing us to think more visually about the space that we were presenting on.”

Staff members within the Open Lab, a part of Pitt’s University Center for Teaching and Learning, provided assistance remotely from the Oakland campus. Aaron Graham, the Open Lab’s manager and a 2001 film studies alumnus, said, “We were never more than one email away. We take pride in our ability to
be a readily accessible resource for the Pitt community.”

In the months prior to the Sicilian excursion, Open Lab staff and instructional designers met extensively with Bromberg. After intensive brainstorming, they decided that evolving the trip’s research and writing assignment into a series of microdocumentaries — in the spirit of The New York Times’ The Daily 360 Series — would give that project a creative edge.

Bromberg has an extensive history with the island of Sicily, having studied there as an undergraduate and throughout his professional career. He says he created Pitt in Sicily in 2016, part of Pitt Study Abroad, to give students the same rich cultural experiences he has enjoyed.

“Sicily is ideal for introducing young people to the classical world and falling in love with all things ancient. The art, the culture, the history, it is just an exquisite place,” said Bromberg, who is currently preparing for the 2018 Pitt in Sicily excursion, scheduled for May. “Having the support of a highly skilled group of professionals within our University community was essential to the program’s success. I am enormously grateful to the Open Lab’s staff for helping make Pitt in Sicily a special experience for our students.”

In addition to 360-degree cameras, the Open Lab team has been supporting academic projects with 3D printersvirtual reality systems and related equipment. Graham views the projects as representative of the Open Lab’s
efforts to leverage technology and work collaboratively with the Pitt community to enhance teaching and learning.

“We recognize that the work of faculty members is much more than just their jobs. Their academic pursuits here at Pitt touch deeply into facets of their personal lives, and they care very deeply about these endeavors as well as the experiences of their students,” said Graham. “Our team is committed to finding new and exciting ways to make those experiences as meaningful as possible.”

UCIS Attends the Pitt Event "Who Run the World?"

As the doors of the William Pitt Union lower lounge opened at 8 p.m., about 150 students poured in to learn about the experiences of women in other
countries.

The event, Who Run the World?, was part of Pitt’s annual Women’s Empowerment Week hosted by Student Government Board. The week will see several events throughout the week about women’s empowerment, with this one focusing on international aspect of female empowerment. Students visited booths put together by various student organizations, such as Pitt Global Ties, Girl Up, the Asian Studies Center and the University Center for International Studies — all organizations related to international programs at Pitt. Participants could also join in on salsa and belly dancing lessons.

Sarah LaBouliere, a junior communication and English major, represented Girl Up — an organization founded by the United Nations Foundation to educate and empower girls around the world — at one of the tables.

“We have six focus countries and five focus pillars,” LaBouliere said. “Our countries include countries like India and Uganda, and our focus pillars include things like health and education.”

LaBouliere got involved with Girl Up in the spring of 2016 when the Pitt chapter was founded. Girl Up was involved in last year’s Women’s Empowerment Week, co-sponsoring a film viewing for “Girl Rising,” which follows the stories of girls in countries the organization is involved in.

“We knew we wanted to have a bigger hand this year, and we brainstormed this event because we’re so focused on countries around the world and womanhood and girlhood, and we thought, ‘What if we could get other organizations involved?’” LaBouliere said.

They succeeded in bringing other groups aimed at global empowerment to participate this year, such as Global Ties.

Madhu Mahesh, a junior psychology and gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, and Lucy Chiem, a senior psychology major, represented Global Ties, which hosts cultural immersion trips allowing both international and domestic students to visit different locations within the United States. Past trip destinations included Denver, Washington, D.C., and Lancaster.

“We do a lot of global and culturally aware programming, and they reached out to us to talk about the global and international culture things on campus that can pertain to women.” Mahesh said.

Global Ties also hosts speakers from organizations within Pitt to bring awareness to the cultural opportunities and resources that are available.

“For international students, sometimes they don’t really know where to start for various resources, and so we open the doors to that,” Mahesh said.

Jennie O’Donaghue, a senior urban studies and Spanish major, attended the event as an ambassador for the UCIS, which grants certificates to
students who have studied specific regions of the world, including Asia, Africa and Europe.

“[They] try to make Pitt students more globally competent, so each of the centers has their own certificate and related concentration that you can do,” she said. “It’s just something that you can add to your major or something like that if you’re interested in the world.”

O’Donaghue is completing a certificate in Latin American studies. She has studied abroad and completed internships through the program. Though she knows most people get involved with the certificate programs early in their college careers, she didn’t join until she was a junior. She has had no problem with the certificate and said some students might not know they’ve even completed one.

“It’s actually pretty common to accidentally complete a certificate,” she said.

The University Center for International Studies was asked to attend the event because of its international theme.

Aubrey Masters, a sophomore studying pre-social work, attended because she is a member of sorority Delta Zeta — which belongs to the Collegiate Panhellenic Association, a Greek life collective that co-sponsors Women’s Empowerment Week.

“Sorority life partners with and promotes the whole event,” Masters said. “My sisters and I are very busy, but we had 40-plus [people] stop by to check it out.”

University of Pittsburgh Establishes New Relationship with Indian Council for Cultural Relations

The University of Pittsburgh and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a
new ICCR Chair of Indian Studies at Pitt for the next five years.

Pitt Chancellor Emeritus and Chair of the University’s Institute of Politics Mark Nordenberg represented Pitt at the ICCR headquarters in New Delhi on November 13, 2017, for the signing of the MOU. Representing the ICCR was Indian Director General Riva Ganguly Das.

The ICCR is an autonomous organization of the Government of India that works with some of the most prominent cultural organizations in the world to promote a wider understanding of Indian culture and history.  The ICCR Chair program seats preeminent faculty from Indian universities at prominent universities across the globe in order to support the development of India Studies.  Additionally, the organization supports a large number of cultural programs and academic conferences. Pitt’s ICCR Chair will be one of the first established in the United States.

The establishment of this chair is a direct link to the Pitt Global Professorships initiative detailed as part of Embracing the World: A Global Plan for Pitt. The ICCR will work with Pitt to annually invite a scholar from either the social sciences or the humanities from a leading Indian university to work with Pitt faculty and students.

The University continues to develop its relationship with India and, in recent years, has welcomed prominent Indian government officials to campus, including Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed “MJ” Akbar in 2014 and Director General Das in 2016.

In 2016, the University created a South Asia Initiative to facilitate communication and collaboration between students and faculty and to provide opportunities for more active engagement with the local community.

The signing of the MOU took place during a weeklong trip to India by Pitt representatives, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Trade Office, in an effort to build stronger ties that will benefit the University, the Commonwealth, and the United States.

“India is already a great trade partner with the United States and Pennsylvania, but trips like this are integral to building ties that will result in both deeper existing and new partnerships,” Nordenberg said.  “Thanks to our strong alumni network, the University can offer introductions to business and governmental leaders that other trade missions might not be able to access.”

A team of five visited New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. In each city the delegation of Ariel Armony, vice provost for global affairs; Mark Nordenberg; Sanjeev Shroff, distinguished professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in bioengineering; Joseph Alter,  professor of anthropology; and Jason Kane, director of constituent relations; met with universities, representatives from private companies, and influential Pitt alumni in an effort to build new economic bonds and strengthen those already in place.

The trip was coordinated with the Pennsylvania Trade and Investment Office – India. The office works in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to strengthen business ties between Pennsylvania and India.

While in India, the team also visited the Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Healthcare (WISH Foundation) founded by Sunil Wadhwani of Presto, Pa., and the Science Health Allied Research Education (SHARE) at MediCiti (International Medical Science City) founded by Sudhakar Pesara “P.S.” Reddy, MD, of UPMC.

Those on the trip had the opportunity to network with Pitt alumni living in India at a social event in each city, where Nordenberg and Armony offered an update on the University and its growing commitment to internationalization.

“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity to take our engagement with India to new, exciting levels,” said Armony. “In building
strong, strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships with India, we underscore our goal of taking Pitt to the world and bringing the world to Pitt.”

More than 500 Pitt Alumni call India home. There are an additional 484 students from India currently attending Pitt, which is second only to China.

Nationally Recognized for Internationalization

The University of Pittsburgh was one of only four institutions nationwide to receive the 2017 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization.

The Simon Awards are given by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Named for the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, the award recognizes colleges and universities that are making significant, well-planned, well-executed and well-documented progress toward integrating international education throughout all facets of a university campus.

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher accepted the award on behalf of the University in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 2017—during International Education Week.

“We truly believe that teaching and learning know no boundaries, and that the University of Pittsburgh’s robust international platform benefits students, faculty members and society at large,” says Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Our mission — to improve the world through knowledge — is one that we support through a rich catalog of study abroad opportunities, a vibrant community of international scholars and a deep commitment to tackling issues affecting people and communities across the world.”

The other recipients of the 2017 Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization are Florida State University, University of Iowa and Santa Monica College. 

View the 2017 Simon Award presidential panel here: youtu.be/emczq4KvMkg

University of Pittsburgh Reaches Six Continents in Day of Giving Fund Drive

In a single day, students, parents, faculty, staff and other University of Pittsburgh supporters generated $9 million-plus for scholarships, research and both academic and student activities, Pitt officials announced Monday.

Read the full story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Coming of Age Ceremony Brings Japanese Tradition, Pittsburgh Community Together

Most of the Japanese students hadn’t packed colorful and elaborate kimonos in their suitcases when they came to Pittsburgh — they were limited to carrying one bag apiece.

About 25 students from Yasuda Women’s University in Hiroshima, who were at the University of Pittsburgh for five months learning English, were away from home in January, missing out on the annual Coming of Age ceremony, a national holiday in Japan.

So, Pitt’s Asian Studies Center threw a party — kimonos included.

“This Coming of Age ceremony seems like the perfect confluence of the University, our Japanese students and the community to celebrate together,” said Lynn Kawaratani, the center’s acting associate director. Members of the Pittsburgh community, the Japanese Nationality Room Committee and the Japan America Society of Pennsylvania all loaned kimonos for the students to wear. The Asian Studies Center has been partnering with Pitt’s English Language Institute for about a year, developing programming for these international students as well as Pitt students.

The age of 20 is considered the beginning of adulthood in Japan, and the national holiday — with roots dating to 714 A.D. — officially recognizes this transition in grand style. Preparations for the Pittsburgh ceremony began in the early afternoon of Jan. 10 as the women began arriving at the University Club’s Gold Room to be dressed in silk kimonos.

Kimono dressing, or kitsuke, is an art unto itself. Pitt alumnus Evan Mason, who graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese and anthropology, is an expert and scholar of kitsuke. He joined several Japanese women from the Pittsburgh area in quickly and efficiently outfitting the women by wrapping, tucking and folding the kimono’s colorful silk layers. The first step is an under-kimono. A narrow sash is put through a wide loop that extends from its collar and wraps around the body. Then, the main silk garment is put on and the length adjusted. Wooden clothespins are temporarily clipped onto the garment as at least three narrow sashes are wrapped around the body and knotted.

“They hold the garment in place,” said Mason. “We have no buttons, snaps or zippers.”

The stiff sash called the obi is wrapped around the middle of the body with another layer and sash on top. Then, more tucking and smoothing out of the fabric. Next, the musubi, the decorative bow on the back of the garment, is knotted in place. It took three people nearly 30 minutes to outfit one woman. As they finished being dressed, the women retreated to a nearby alcove to do their hair and makeup, some applying colorful hair ornaments.

“Now I feel more confident,” Yasuda student Nika Tanimoto said at the ceremony.

Participant Aarthi Pookot, a Pitt freshman majoring in Japanese, demonstrated Japanese calligraphy on a large banner. “I wrote ‘Congratulations, new adults,'” she said.

“I realize I have more responsibility now,” said Yasuda student Manami Wada, as she was handed a bouquet of flowers. “I have to become independent. I can’t rely on my parents anymore.”

Though many of the participants chose to wear kimonos, others opted for dressy Western-style attire. In addition to the Yasuda students, Pitt students who are learning Japanese and Japanese exchange students at Chatham University were encouraged to take part. The students each walked to the stage and accepted a small gift. An easel in the room displayed a large photo of a cherry blossom tree, its lower branches bedecked with pink ribbons, that was planted in Pittsburgh’s North Park by members of the Pittsburgh Sakura Project as a gift to the visiting students.

“So many people support me here in Pittsburgh,” said Nanami Moriyasu, a Yasuda student majoring in English literature. “This ceremony was satisfying.”

Pitt Among Top Fulbright Grant Producers

The University of Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright students and scholars for the 2017-18 academic year, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Pitt is among only 16 institutions in the country to be named a top producer in both the Fulbright U.S. Student and Scholar programs. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Its U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study and research projects for English Teaching Assistant Programs. The U.S. Scholar Program offers awards for teaching, research or both in over 125 countries to college and university faculty as well as other professionals. Pitt affiliates earned 10 student and six scholar awards this year.

The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted the achievement on Sunday.

“This designation, which just 15 other institutions across the nation received, speaks to the University of Pittsburgh’s extraordinary capacity to attract student scholars,” says Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “We are proud of their success and grateful that they are helping to advance Pitt’s mission of leveraging knowledge for society’s gain.”

This is the seventh time in eight years Pitt has earned this distinction for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

“We are extremely proud of our students’ success with Fulbright scholarships,” says Brian Primack, dean of the University Honors College. “The fact that we consistently maintain our status as a Top Producing Institution demonstrates Pitt’s commitment not only to high quality instruction and research but also extending our global reach.”

Eight Pitt alumni are currently on Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grants in host countries around the world: Tiffani Anne Humble and Amber Montgomery in Jordan, Melissa Kukowski in South Korea and Marjorie Tolsdorf in Russia, while John McGovern, Daniel Snyder, Sophia Winston and Benjamin Zhu are teaching in Brazil.

Two Pitt graduate students — Emilie Rose Coakley and Trevor Thomas Wilson — are on Fulbright research grants in Indonesia and Russia.

Pitt also was the only Pennsylvania institution on the list of top producing Fulbright U.S. Scholars. They are:

  • Caitlin Bruce of the Department of Communication within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences is researching a project called Citizens Voices in Aerosol: Leon’s Graffiti Worlds at the Ibero-American University in Mexico.
  • Lauren Jonkman of the School of Pharmacy will support teaching and research at a primary clinical pharmacy practice at the University of Namibia School of Pharmacy.
  • Lisa Maillart of the Swanson School of Engineering last fall lectured and conducted research on Markov decision models for health care maintenance optimization at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
  • Mary Rauktis of the School of Social Work last fall lectured and conducted research on measuring the restrictiveness of living environments at out-of-home care for children and youth at the University of Porto in Portugal.
  • Vanessa Sterling of Pitt Study Abroad and the University Center for International Studies will attend the Fulbright’s U.S.-Taiwan International Education Administrators Program in Taipei, Taiwan, this spring.
  • Amy Williams of the Department of Music within the Dietrich School is lecturing and researching a project called Two Music Courses and an Original Song Cycle in Irish at University College Cork in Ireland.
Studying Migration, Refugee Issues at Oxford University, Alumna Draws on Personal History

Migration and the experience of refugees have played a large role in Bhavini Patel’s (A&S ’16) life.

It's a role that's informed her educational choices and shaped her career goals, driving her to pursue an Oxford University scholarship and to plan a return to Pittsburgh to help the city's immigrants.

The daughter of an immigrant herself, Patel spent most of her childhood in multicultural neighborhoods throughout the United States, which were bustling with people “adjusting or blending in with the American fabric of ‘normal,’” she said.

Her mother, who came to the U.S. from India, moved the family around the country, depending on where she could find work. Among the communities they lived in, Patel said “there was a pure sense of joy in that experience of community bonding.”

There were also worries, however — of deportation, of finding well-paying work, of fitting in to their new country. Those fears left a mark on young Patel, who came to Pitt to triple major in international and area studiessociology and Africana studies. She also earned a certificate in African studies.

As a first-generation student at Pitt, she began researching responses to migration and refugees in the African diaspora. Through college, she also served as editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review, was a member of the Student Health Advisory Board and volunteered as a tutor at the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.

“I was familiar with Pitt's emphasis on staying connected to the community through service-based learning. This was appealing to me as an avenue to practically apply the skills and knowledge I would gain through coursework,” she said.

Working with the University Honors College’s Community-based Research Fellowships, now called the Academic Community-based Transdisciplinary Research Fellowships, Patel also worked with local faith-based and non-profit
organizations to advocate for health care access for Pittsburgh’s African immigrant community. What’s more, Patel became proficient in Swahili.

As she finished her time at the University, Patel interviewed for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship to continue her studies in United Kingdom. While the interview didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped, Patel was determined to study at Oxford University anyway.

She applied to the university independently of the scholarship, hoping to earn a Master of Philosophy degree in international relations with a focus on refugee and migration issues, and was accepted. But then came the challenge of paying for the schooling. That’s where Jeff Klink and the Global Grant Scholarships for Rotary District 7300 came in.

“She was extremely focused on what she wanted to do,” said Klink, who facilitates the Western Pennsylvania scholarship program. The funds will help pay her room and board, as well as other living and studying costs.

Patel’s ultimate goal is to return to Pittsburgh and help the groups she’s also enmeshed herself with. She remains a board member of Civically, a Wilkinsburg-based nonprofit organization committed to fostering self-reliance among residents and contributing to regional economic growth. She’s also a founding member of the Alliance for South Asians in Pittsburgh, a collective that represents and advocates for the needs of the South Asian community in Pittsburgh. According to Pitt's Center on Race and Social Problems, about 70 percent of Pittsburgh citizens of
Asian descent are foreign-born and may face challenges similar to those Patel saw throughout her childhood communities.

“Her passion for social work and social justice is very evident, and she shows it in the way she works,” said Bibhuti Aryal, the chair of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs who has worked with Patel. “She always learns something from others, and she applies that into practice.”

Patel credited Pitt with providing an environment to delve deeply into the issues she cares most about.

“Pitt ultimately helped me find and refine my voice on issues I am passionate about as well as gave me the courage to translate my thoughts into effective action,” Patel said.

Marcela Gonzalez Rivas Creates Partnership Connecting Local and Global Issues

Assistant Professor Marcela Gonzalez Rivas, PhD, from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs is partnering with the Nine Mile Run Watershed Authority to provide a real-life learning laboratory for students and international visitors.