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Three Penn Nursing Students Win President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes

Marcus Henderson, Ian McCurry, and Yaneli Arizmendi are among the eight winners of the 2017 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes. The award provides $100,000 in funding for Penn seniors to design and undertake post-graduation projects that make a positive, lasting difference in the world.

“These members of the Class of 2017 have set out to implement an extraordinarily promising venture, and each has brought to the table an outstanding ability and an infectious eagerness to make a tangible, substantial, sustainable impact,” Gutmann said. “I am deeply grateful to the Selection Committees for recommending to me a group of projects that embody the spirit of public service and innovation upon which the University was founded. From Philadelphia to Senegal, Lanzando Líderes, Homeless Health and Nursing, Project Y.V.E.T.A. and SolutionLoft tackle timely, consequential challenges with innovative, inspiring solutions. I congratulate all of this year’s Prize recipients, and I look forward to seeing the positive differences they will make in Philadelphia, across the country and around the world.”

Each project will receive up to $100,000, plus a $50,000 living stipend per team member. The student recipients will spend the next year implementing their projects.


Alexa Salas, Camilo Toro, and Yaneli ArizmendiAlexa Salas, Camilo Toro, and Yaneli Arizmendi Credit: Photography by Rebecca AbboudArizmendi, along with College of Arts & Sciences seniors Alexa Salas and Camilo Toro, will
design a community-based after-school program for Latino high school students in South Philadelphia. They will develop an experiential, bilingual, culturally inclusive curriculum to serve as the touchstone for the program, which will work with Latino immigrant families and members of the community. Their project, Lanzando Líderes, aims to bridge educational disparities and help students develop self-efficacy to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals. Salas, Toro, and Arizmendi are being mentored by Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel.

For their project, Homeless Health and Nursing: Building Community Partnerships for a Healthier Future, McCurry and Henderson will integrate innovative healthcare case Ian McCurry and Marcus HendersonIan McCurry and Marcus Henderson Credit: Photography by Rebecca Abboudmanagement into the current program of homeless services offered by the Bethesda Project, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that provides proactive case management and housing services to the homeless population. Through their work with Bethesda and other key partners, Henderson and McCurry seek to decrease health disparities and increase access to high-quality, person-centered healthcare for this underserved population. They are being mentored by Terri Lipman, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, Assistant Dean for Community Engagement and the Miriam Stirl Endowed Term Professor of Nutrition.

Over the past two years, Penn has awarded nearly $1.5 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. Eighty seniors submitted applications for both Prizes this year, with proposals spanning a diverse array of social impact ideas.