Five Students Span the Globe to Work in Education, Energy, Finance, Public Health, Education

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Alex Cheston, Will Danforth, Olivia Stone, Emma Patterson, and Shan Nagar


Five Bowdoin seniors have been selected by international service organizations to work in Asia, Africa or Latin America in the fields of finance, energy, public health, education and sustainability.

Will Danforth ’16, an economics and math major, will join Mongolia’s first full-service investment bank, the Ulan Bator-based Mongolia International Capital Corporation, where he’s been hired as a research analyst. He was connected with the company through Princeton in Asia.

Alex Cheston ’16 has been placed by Princeton in Africa with the Kampala branch of EleQtra, an international firm that builds energy infrastructure to support renewable energy, transportation, sanitation, and water irrigation projects.

Emma Patterson ’16 has been selected by Princeton in Africa to teach at a secondary school in Tanzania.

Shan Nagar ’16, also a Princeton-in-Africa fellow, will be working in a sustainable village in Kenya that takes care of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Olivia Stone ’16, a Princeton-in-Latin America fellow, will be working in Nicaragua next year with a nonprofit that supplies water-filtration systems to families and runs a community health clinic.

The three programs—Princeton in Africa, Princeton in Asia, and Princeton in Latin America—were all founded by Princeton University-affiliated people, but each works independently. Princeton in Asia, the oldest program, began in 1898. Princeton in Africa and Princeton in Latin America were launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

Cindy Stocks, director of Bowdoin’s Student Fellowships & Research, said the programs select high-achieving seniors from U.S. colleges and universities who are interested in international experience and service. Based on their resumes, the students are matched with companies and nonprofits for at least one year of work.

Frank Strasburger, who co-founded Princeton in Africa, said his program received about 500 applicants from 130 institutions for roughly 50 placements. “I’m happy to report that tiny Bowdoin has been represented every year but one, I believe,” he said. “Bowdoin’s core commitment to the common good has a lot to do with its outsized representation among the ranks of PiAf fellows.”

Princeton in Asia

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Will Danforth ’16

When Will Danforth applied to Princeton in Asia, he said he was open to working anywhere in Asia and doing anything — teaching, interning, working for a nonprofit or for-profit business. “Mongolia was a bit of a surprise,” he admitted. But he gladly accepted the opportunity, and his new job in finance builds on his previous experiences and skills. Two summers ago, he had a Robert S. Goodfriend summer grant from Bowdoin to intern with a start-up miniature golf course called Urban Putt, in San Francisco, where Danforth is from. Last summer, he worked for a consulting agency in New York. Danforth joked that you could call his career trajectory, “From Urban Putt to Ulan Bator.”

Danforth said that he wanted to do something other than a regular office job after graduating from college. His new employer, Mongolia International Capital Corporation, was launched in 2005 with a mission to support Mongolian enterprises and help develop the country’s economy.

Danforth said he’ll try to learn Mongolian, and that his job could be extended for an additional two years. While he’s not sure yet what he wants to do career-wise, he said that “looking ahead to the 21st century, you have to know what’s going on in East Asia to be a responsible citizen.”

Princeton in Africa

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Emma Patterson ’16

Emma Patterson ’16 will teach classes on life skills next year at Orkeeswa, a rural secondary school run by the Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania in the Monduli District of Tanzania. Although the school of roughly 226 students is co-ed, it is focused on providing an education for girls, who are less likely than boys to be sent to school. Many of Orkeeswa’s students are recruited from nearby Maasai communities, according to Patterson.

Besides teaching the life-skills class, which will include sex-ed and leadership development, Patterson will coordinate the school’s scholarship program. She will keep donors up to date by sending them stories and photographs of the students they’re supporting.

Patterson said she was eager to return to Africa after working at an elephant sanctuary in South Africa and traveling to Kenya twice. In particular, she wanted to work with Princeton in Africa because it carefully vets the organizations with which it places fellows. “I want to work with an organization that I am confident is making a sustainable and lasting impact,” she said.

A government and legal studies major, Patterson is interested in a range of possible careers, from international development to public health.

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Alex Cheston ’16

Alex Cheston ’16 said that after studying abroad in Zanzibar as a junior, he was eager to return to East Africa. “I had to plan a trip back I loved it so much,” he said. “You have a sense of adventure walking up in a new place, everything is curious and magical.”

Cheston will do work similar to what he did in his internship last summer with a New Jersey-based solar company called Nautilus Solar, where he wrote company responses for RFPs. An English major and economics minor, Cheston said he would like to pursue a career in solar energy, an interest that was first sparked in Zanzibar.

While he was studying there, he observed a few successful solar installations and wondered why this energy solution wasn’t more widespread. So he pursued an independent research project to analyze the economic benefits of solar energy to determine if it had a local market.

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Shan Nagar ’16

The Kenyan village where Shan Nagar ’16 will live next year is a 25-minute motorcycle ride down a bumpy dirt road to the nearest paved road. From there, it’s a three-to-five hour drive to Nairobi, depending on traffic.

Set on more than 1,000 acres, Nyumbani Village is an intentional community dedicated to the care and education of as many as 1,000 children who have lost their parents to HIV or AIDS. The organization, which was founded in 1992 by an American Jesuit priest, also takes care of children who are HIV-positive. Besides educating and caring for the orphans, the community strives to be sustainable, growing its own food, collecting rainwater for irrigation, and purifying the water for drinking. Nagar has been hired as a Sustainability Fellow and will be involved in all of Nyumbani’s sustainability activities. He’ll also help coordinate the volunteer program.

Nagar, a biology major and music minor from Durham, N.C., studied abroad in Tanzania his junior year and did a bit of traveling through Uganda and Zanzibar. While he was abroad, he researched wildlife conservation and human development, writing a paper that compared the management strategies of two wildlife-protection areas that allowed some human resource use. With his faculty collaborators, he co-published the paper in the Journal for Nature Conservation.

Princeton in Latin America

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Olivia Stone ’16

Olivia Stone, from Fairfield, Conn., has been awarded a Princeton-in-Latin America fellowship to work for a nonprofit in Nicaragua called Comunidad Connect.

The organization runs several programs, including a water-filtration project and community health clinic. Stone has been asked to conduct research to determine whether the families provided with water filtration systems are experiencing fewer medical problems because they’re drinking cleaner water.

Stone, a physics and Spanish double major, and a  chemistry minor, says she plans to attend medical school in three years, possibly specializing in emergency medicine. But she said she’s excited to gain experience in public health, which will help her decide whether to incorporate public health into her future studies or perhaps pursue it instead of medical school.​

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