Three seniors win $30k Labouisse Prize
A joint project in Sierra Leone by Shirley Gao ’13 and Raphael Frankfurter ’13 and a project in Brazil by Courtney Crumpler ’13 were awarded this year’s Henry Richardson Labouisse ’26 Prize, which provides graduating seniors $30,000 to pursue work in the developing world.
The two judges, Wilson School professor Stanley Katz and history professor Janet Chen, selected the winning projects because they best fit the award’s mission to support hands-on efforts to help the developing world that are likely to succeed, Katz said.
“The spirit of this award is that it’s for students who want to go out and work with local organizations and local individuals to improve local living conditions,” Katz said. “It seemed to us that these two sets of applicants were the ones that have the greatest chance of leaving something behind.”
In Sierra Leone, Gao, a Wilson School concentrator, and Frankfurter, an anthropology concentrator, will work with the Wellbody Alliance, a non-profit which works to provide accessible healthcare in the Kono District of Sierra Leone. Both Gao and Frankfurter are earning certificates in global health and health policy.
“There’s a lot of gaps in the healthcare system [in Sierra Leone],” Gao said. “There are drug shortages, infrastructure problems, human resource shortages — that’s what I’m writing my thesis about, health and human resources in Sierra Leone — lack of communication between different levels.”
Frankfurter has worked with Wellbody for the past three summers, and Gao worked with them this past summer. In the coming year, they will help develop a new maternal healthcare coordinating center for the organization, Gao said. They have a variety of goals in mind, from hiring an additional nurse for the center to developing a training curriculum for medical technicians.
Crumpler, an anthropology concentrator also earning a certificate in global health and health policy, will be moving to Rio de Janeiro to work with the nonprofit Catalytic Communities, a group that works to help favela communities, or the slums where public services are not provided, by pushing for more integration between these communities and the rest of Rio de Janeiro.
These efforts are particularly relevant in light of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. With the upcoming Olympics, Crumpler said, these favelas face the threat of gentrification as the city’s efforts to improve its image and safety cause property values to rise.
Using both her experience as a field organizer in the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns and her interest in public health, Crumpler said that she hopes to explore how her background in anthropology might fit in with community development efforts and help contribute to this movement in Rio to protect and assist threatened communities.
“My overarching goal is to keep exploring the ways that the people-centered research methodologies that I have learned as an anthropologist can be relevant to social justice efforts, to public policy, but also to nongovernmental activities,” Crumpler said. She explained that she will observe “how are people listening to and incorporating the perspectives of those that are actually affected by social interventions, by urban planning interventions, into the strategies that are being deployed.”
The Labouisse Prize is what made the move to Rio de Janeiro possible for her, Crumpler said, as the organization has the financial means to support her there.
“It’s really what’s going to make moving to Rio possible for me,” Crumpler said. “The organization that I’m working with [has] a staff of three, so increasing their staff for an entire year by one full person — and I’ll work full-time for them — that’s going to be huge, but they didn’t have the resources to pay me. So certainly, it’s a game changer in my future plans.”
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