2014 Patricelli Center and Priebatsch Summer Internship Grantee Profiles

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship offers summer internship stipends through the Wesleyan Summer Experience Grant program. Our 2014 recipients have internships in a wide range of social impact and entrepreneurial fields.

Geneva Jonathan ’15 is doing mental health work in India, where stigma and cultural barriers to care often prevent proper treatment.

Theodora Messalas ’15 is working with a food pantry, soup kitchen, and women’s homeless shelter in Manhattan, exploring ways to implement successful social services in which the needs and preferences of the end-users are paramount.

Dara Mysliwiec ’16 is addressing food sovereignty in Lamas, Peru, using sustainable – and previously lost – indigenous farming techniques.

Keren Reichler ’16 has a fellowship with Urban Adamah farm and community center in Berkeley, California, where she is addressing the issue of urban food access and social justice through urban organic farming, community organizing, and leadership development.

Jared Geilich ’15 is combining his interests in computer science and emerging technology, psychology and human behavior, and cultural trends at FootSteps Marketing in Colorado, a small company that specializes in website design and digital marketing services.

Aaron Kalischer-Coggins ’15, a film major and experienced documentarian with a passion for leveraging film to educate and inspire people on environmental issues, is performing a research internship at Ark Media, based in New York City.

Full details about the 2014 Patricelli Center and Norman Priebatsch summer interns are below, and more information about PCSE Grants are at www.wesleyan.edu/patricelli/grants. All grantees report on their experiences here on the ENGAGE blog.



For Wesleyan sophomores and juniors currently receiving need-based financial aid who plan to do socially innovative or socially responsible work during summer break. 

Geneva Jonathan ’15
Major: SISP
Employer: Leave UR Mark
Location: Bangalore, India

Leave UR Mark is a social enterprise that enables young people to travel to India to work on career development and aid in positive community growth initiatives. I have been selected for a Therapy and Counseling Internship, and I will be working with children and adolescents with autism, cerebral palsy, and various neuromuscular disorders.

India’s society is quickly modernizing and developing, and there are many new therapy services available to those with mental illnesses. Prior to India’s modernization, there were many incidences of parents simply abandoning children with developmental and psychiatric disabilities because they did not know how to handle them – especially those who had lower income status. In some parts of India, children with such a diagnosis are still physically abused and deemed too embarrassing for parents to deal with.

In this internship, I will work on early intervention programs for young children, focusing on behavior issues, occupational therapy, sensory integration, alternative therapy such as art and music, self-care, communication, academics, yoga and movement therapy as well as socialization skills and pre-vocational training. I will provide counseling and treatment explanations to their parents and siblings, with a goal of helping the disabled children maximize their independence from their family. Furthermore, I will work to build a supportive, community based rehabilitation program for children and adolescents to help them assimilate and transition into mainstream schools, and seek further counseling and psychoeducational evaluations, sensory integration therapy, speech therapy, and more.

Last summer, I had the chance to work with inner city adolescent girls who came from troubled homes. PowerPlay, the organization I worked with, aimed to empower the girls through activity and sports. Additionally, we taught them essential life skills that would help overthrow any adversity they had going on at home. During my time at PowerPlay, I realized just how incredible it is to work with adolescents because they can grow so much in a matter of days. Not only that, but it is extremely important that they have a community based support system, especially when they have issues going on at home.

Moving forward, I want to do graduate work in psychology and attend medical school to get a degree to practice clinical psychiatry. I hope that someday I will be able to help make amendments to mental health policy in the United States and around the world because as of right now, the current policies are extremely limiting for those suffering from mental illnesses. My hope is that by spending time in India, where they are just beginning to establish mental health policies, I will be able to return to the United States with an enlightened vision of how we can help build the groundwork for better mental health policies here.

Theodora Messalas '15

Theodora Messalas ’15

Theodora Messalas ’15
Major: SOC
Employer: Crossroads Community Services
Location: NYC

I will be interning at Crossroads, an organization that runs a women’s homeless shelter, a food pantry, and a soup kitchen out of mid-town Manhattan. They are committed to providing people with the resources they need to survive, working off the belief that food and shelter are basic human rights that everyone is entitled to. They provide these services with an emphasis on community and alliance-building.

I am interested in finding out exactly how Crossroads is run in the hopes of one day spearheading my own similar organization. I want to see firsthand how they have translated the desire to provide food and shelter to underserved New Yorkers into a running operation that can actually get these services to people. I want to see all their successes, and I want to get to know the roadblocks that they meet.

My commitment is to doing work that does not drown out the voices of the people being served in its attempts to serve them. Crossroads has a strong working relationship with people who come there—they are consistently meeting with diners and shoppers in order to get input on new initiatives, on what they can do better. The people who come to Crossroads are encouraged to take on leadership roles when they have an idea, to work with one another to achieve common goals and advocate for themselves.

Dara Mysliwiec ’16
Majors: BIOL, E&ES
Employer: Sachamama Center for BioCultural Regeneration
Location: Lamas, Peru

The Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regneration (SCBR) consists of a team with widely varying academic and social backgrounds, coming together for the common purpose of working with local communities to respect and restore indigenous Kichwa-Lamista practices. It was founded by Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, the 2013-2014 Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Wesleyan’s College of the Environment. One of SCBR’s ongoing tasks, which I will work on, is the Chacra Huerto project. This involves the creation of Amazonian Dark Earth (ADE) through the use of bio-char ovens, a process that entails local Kichwa traditions and world views. The center is working towards food sovereignty for the local people by reteaching the ADE techniques that have been lost, a unique initiative that is helping to regenerate the Kichwa agriculture through intercultural dialogue rather than simply cultural observation and analysis.

During the internship, I will learn the full process of producing bio-char soil under the guidance of SCBR technical staff, and I will immerse myself in the Kichwa world vision, in which the earth is not seen just as a source for “things,” but rather as a being. I eventually hope to translate both experiences to less traditional cultures. My ultimate goal is to find a career involved in environmental resource management that brings the details of resource use closer to the people it directly affects. There is no better place to learn how to do this than a community where the resource is not seen as a quantity but a crucial part of life and culture.

Keren Reichler ’16

Keren Reichler ’16

Keren Reichler ’16
Major: Science & Society
Employer: Urban Adamah
Location: Berkeley, CA

Urban Adamah is an educational farm and community center that integrates the practices of sustainable agriculture, social action, and Jewish tradition. Urban Adamah provides educational programs and community celebrations for more than 5,000 visitors a year, as well as a residential fellowship program for young adults, which combines organic farming, progressive Jewish living and social justice internships. Urban Adamah also offers innovative, farm-based programs for school-age children. The organic urban farm produces a diverse yield of crops, all of which are donated to the local community through food banks and a weekly Free Farm Stand.

My position is a three-month residential fellowship for adults ages 21-31 that combines urban organic farming, social justice training and progressive Jewish learning and living. Fellows learn and work at the urban farm in Berkeley, California, and live together in a shared house nearby. As a fellow, I will gain significant skills, training and experience is all aspects of sustainable urban agriculture, community building, leadership development, and urban food access. This is a service-learning program with four core components:

1. Earth Service: I will spend most of my time learning and practicing sustainable agriculture on a one-acre farm in Berkeley.

2. Community Service: I will spend part of my time serving the communities of the East Bay and San Francisco. Community service includes each of the following: an Environmental Justice Internship,

assisting with Farm Volunteers, organizing the Free Farm Stand, and facilitating Public and Group Programs.

3. Service of the Heart: Each morning, we come together for an experience that includes chanting, movement (yoga and other practices), and silent meditation. Service of the Heart is based on the Jewish traditional morning service but is creative, multi-sensory and contemplative. As a Fellow, I will take increasing responsibility for the content and style of the experience as the season unfolds.

4. Service of the Mind: The curriculum of study in the Fellowship includes material in the three primary areas: Jewish Exploration, Environmental Sustainability, and Leadership Training. Sessions are taught by Urban Adamah staff, guest faculty and professionals from partner community-based organizations.

Given contemporary disparities in food access as well as local and global threats to food safety and sovereignty, I feel an obligation to explore alternative means to treat the earth and feed my community. Practicing sustainable agriculture in urban areas offers a powerful tool to promote the health of social, economic, ecological and environmental systems. Upon graduating from Wesleyan in 2016, I plan to pursue work that relates to environmental education and policy, sustainable agriculture, and community organizing. Given the multi-dimensional and continuously shifting nature of the food justice movement, the challenges will look radically different when I graduate. Thus, it is important to gain the tools and experiences that will enable me to approach these complex issues in a fundamentally interdisciplinary and holistic manner.

Jared Geilich ’15
Major: COMP
Employer: FootSteps Marketing
Location: Carbondale, Colorado

FootSteps Marketing is a small company that specializes in unique and tailored website design and digital marketing services for a wide variety of clients. FootSteps ensures that their clients’ public image and online presence truly represents each individual business and helps them increase their outreach by providing an elegant, simple user interface.

In this internship, I will complete an abbreviated version of the training process they provide for new employees and gain experience in web design and development, graphic design, consultation, and analytics and data management.

This work perfectly combines my skills and interests.  I am a computer science major and a multi-media artist, and I have always had a deep interest in psychology and human behavior, emerging technology, and cultural trends. A summer at FootSteps will allow me to use my knowledge of modern styles and design, my artistry and creativity, and my programming skills in a professional setting.



The Norman Ernst Priebatsch Fund for Entrepreneurship was established by Ilene Rosenthal ’74 P’17 and Steven Rosenthal P’17 in memory of Norman Priebatsch, a serial entrepreneur and lifelong philanthropist. This grant funds summer experiences for Wesleyan sophomores and juniors who embody Norman’s innovative spirit, business acumen, and philanthropic dedication.

Aaron Kalischer-Coggins '15

Aaron Kalischer-Coggins ’15

Aaron Kalischer-Coggins ’15
Major: FILM
Employer: Ark Media
Location: NYC and on-location

Ark Media is a documentary film group that creates award-winning historical, cultural, and public affairs documentaries for the PBS series FRONTLINE and American Experience. They’ve selected me for a research internship, and my duties will include acquiring archival materials, preparing research briefs for producers/story editors to create series content, and identifying, acquiring and licensing archival materials for edit. I will also assist in shoot preparation and execution.

Two summers ago, I directed, filmed, and edited a documentary focusing on the sacred fengshui forests of China. Last summer, I did an internship on the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, working with the National Park Service and the Municipal Government to direct, film, and edit short documentaries. Both projects taught me about the interaction between man and nature, and how almost exclusively harmful it was.

My experiences have given me insight into how film as an art form can be harnessed effectively to educate and inspire people on environmental issues that they may not otherwise care about or even be aware of. I’m passionate about leveraging filmmaking to bring the social problems of remote locales to a broader viewership, and this internship at Ark Media will help me work toward that goal.