Photo Credit Abigail Beck
Saving lives, changing lives
June 11, 2020

Three Culver Academies seniors were recipients of the Brian M. Barefoot Social Entrepreneurship Awards. The awards recognize excellence in the senior practicum with respect to creativity, vision, and potential long term benefit to the advancement of a community.

The awards were established in 2014 by Brian Barefoot N’59, president emeritus of Babson College, one of the nation’s leading management schools.

Abigail Beck with Grace McKay and Vicki Crossley from the library making cat evacuation bags.

First place went to Abigail Beck (South Bend, Indiana) for PAWsitive Safety, a program designed to help evacuate cats in shelters during natural disasters. Using upcycled pillow cases and nylon rope, Beck created 100 bags that can be used to evacuate cats from shelters due to tornadoes, flooding, freezing temperatures, or fire.

Beck also completed a training video for rescuing the cats and worked on developing an evacuation plan. She worked with the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County, located in Pierceton, Indiana. She explained that many shelters do not have the time to dedicate to such planning because they rely so heavily on volunteers.

Dana Nzerem (center) with children from her first two-week swimming class.

Dana Nzerem (Abuja, Nigeria) received second place for her Learning to Swim project. Understanding how privileged she has been to learn this life skill, Nzerem’s project involved identifying and teaching children at the Hope for Survival Orphanage the basics of swimming. She conducted six two-hour lessons for the children on how to float comfortably and tread water.

While she made mistakes along the way, Nzerem said, “I tried my best to come back better.” Her competitive swimming experience at Culver taught her persistence, something that she relied while working the children. “This took me a long way in my project,” she explained, even though “working with the kids brought me so much joy.”

Roger Chenn with some of the sixth grade students he worked with for two weeks.

Third place went to Roger Chenn (San Jose, California) for his Southeast Asia Leadership Program. Chenn’s goal was to increase the diversity of Culver Academies and Culver Summer Schools & Camps while also providing a global educational experience for students from Southeast Asia. This, in turn, would help with the growth of future leaders in the region.

He traveled to the Chong Cheng Academy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to talk with students about Culver, gauge their interest in attending, and do initial interviews with them. Chenn then assisted those interested students with the necessary paperwork to attend Culver Summer Schools & Camps. He also worked with Tony Giraldi ’75, Culver’s chief international officer, throughout the process.

Two students did attend Woodcraft Camp in 2019. Chenn said the boys enjoyed the experience, although they did have some language problems. He credits the language issue to the initial school selection. Chong Cheng Academy specializes in Chinese with English as a secondary language. He is hoping the program can be expanded in the future and include schools with a stronger focus on English.

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