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Penn Nursing Students Win 2019 President’s Engagement Prize

Penn Nursing seniors José Á. Maciel, Nu’19, and Antonio E. Renteria, Nu’19, are among the nine winners of the 2019 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes. Awarded annually, these 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.  

Maciel and Renteria’s project – Cultivando Juntos –will pioneer a community-based curriculum in the agricultural workplaces of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Featured in the PBS documentary “Unnatural Causes,” Kennett Square’s mushroom industry creates stable income opportunities year-round. However, the physical work is grueling, involving frequent lifting, prolonged kneeling, and repetitive manual tasks in tight spaces. Cultivando Juntos will help to alleviate this working environment’s negative effects on the health of farmworkers, many of whom are Latinx immigrants. Maciel and Renteria are being mentored by Adriana Perez, PhD, ANP-BC, FAAN, Assistant Professor in Penn Nursing’s Department of Family and Community Health.

“Each of the Prize recipients has demonstrated a purpose-driven desire to get out and make a difference—in their community, across the country, and around the world,” said Gutmann. “From our backyard in Philadelphia to the basketball court in Liberia, Rebound Liberia, Cultivando Juntos, Host Homes for LGBTQ Youth in Philadelphia, Strella Biotechnology, and InstaHub represent a most remarkable range of Penn-educated talent, determination, and public-spirited enterprise.”

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.  

“I am immensely proud of our students’ commitment to meaningful work that extends beyond the classroom and the campus,” said Gutmann. “I congratulate all of this year’s Prize recipients, and I wish them the very best as they move forward with their projects.”

Seventy-two seniors submitted applications for both Prizes this year, with proposals spanning a diverse and impressive array of social impact ideas.

“These inspiring projects,” said Provost Wendell Pritchett, “embody the wide-ranging interests and dynamic commitment to innovation of our remarkable Penn students. Global in their scope, they share the founding mission of our university: to make a tangible impact on significant challenges that affect people’s lives around the world. We are grateful to the faculty advisors and staff of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships who worked closely with our students to develop these exciting entrepreneurial initiatives.”

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. Penn has awarded more than $3 million in project funds and living stipends since the inception of both prizes, making these the largest prizes of their kind in higher education. Details on the success of past Prize recipients can be found at https://pennpep.upenn.edu/ and https://pennpip.upenn.edu/.