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Penn Nursing Student Wins 2018 President’s Engagement Prize

Penn Nursing senior Alaina Hall is among the nine winners of the 2018 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes. Awarded annually, the President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes provide $100,000 in funding for Penn seniors to design and undertake post-graduation projects that make a positive, lasting difference in the world.

Hall’s nonprofit project – Healthy Pequeños (Healthy Little Ones) – is a nurse-led multi-interventional health-promotion effort that aims to address the global health problem of infectious disease in children.  Working in partnership with the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos orphanage in Miacatlán, Mexico, Hall, will work to improve health education for children and their caregivers, strengthen infection screening and identification processes, and reduce exposure to infection-causing pathogens by providing filtered water and repairing damage to local sewage structures.  She is being mentored by Cynthia Connolly, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing, the Rosemarie B. Greco Endowed Term Chair in Advocacy, and Associate Director, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing.

“Each Prize recipient has conceived an innovative, impactful project that leverages Penn knowledge to address timely, consequential challenges,” Gutmann said. “I look forward to seeing the positive difference these students will make in Philadelphia, across the country, and around the world.”

The Prizes are generously supported by Judith Bollinger and William G. Bollinger, in honor of Ed Resovsky; Trustee Lee Spelman Doty and George E. Doty, Jr.; and Emeritus Trustee James S. Riepe and Gail Petty Riepe.  

Each project will receive $100,000, plus a $50,000 living stipend for each team member. The student recipients will spend the next year implementing their projects.  “The problems that the recipients are seeking to solve transcend geographic, social and economic boundaries, and the solutions they are proposing are simple yet elegant,” Gutmann said. “From our very own Pennovation Center to the streets of Mumbai, Chicago Furniture Bank, rePurpose, Healthy Pequeños and Avisi Technologies embody and extend Penn’s deeply held commitment to improving communities near and far. I congratulate all of this year’s Prize recipients, and I wish them the very best as they prepare to launch their projects.”

Over the past three years, Penn has awarded more than $2 million in Prize funds and living stipends between the President’s Engagement Prize and President’s Innovation Prize, making these the largest prizes of their kind in higher education.  

“These visionary projects,” said Provost Wendell Pritchett, “exemplify the intellectual creativity, entrepreneurial drive and commitment to social justice of our dynamic Penn students. We are indebted to their faculty advisors and to the staff of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, who worked closely with them to develop these exciting and inspiring ventures.”

The President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes are intended to strengthen Penn’s commitment under the Penn Compact 2022 to impactful local, national and global student engagement, as well as to innovation and entrepreneurship. Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein chaired the President’s Engagement Prize Selection Committee on behalf of Pritchett, and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli chaired the President’s Innovation Prize Selection Committee.