Congratulations to our 2022 Cohort! In only our second year, KFP attracted over 40 international applicants for six fellowship vacancies. We look forward to sharing our work, insights, and projects with you!
I am Stephany Ayestas! I was born and raised in Nicaragua, a country rich in culture, traditions, and natural beauty. Still, life has taken me to unexpected places, first to the U.S, where I earned my bachelor's degree in Business Administration at Harding University; thanks to a fully-funded scholarship provided to students from Central America. And now, I am living in Germany, where I am pursuing a master’s in Childhood Studies and Children’s Rights at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam.
In my life, I have been passionate about various things, but three of them that are very close to my heart are dancing marimba, a traditional dance from Nicaragua; meeting people (creating bonds), and most importantly, supporting my community and those in need.
For me, my greatest accomplishments in life have been to be part of three different social projects. First, during my bachelor’s degree, when I was a volunteer and later president of “Smiles For Christ,” a service project which raised funds to support children with special needs in Honduras. Then, back in Nicaragua, I along with some other friends founded “I know I teach” a project that created English learning opportunities for children and adolescents from a community in Masaya; this project was carried out for two years. Also, during that time while being part of the Managua Global shapers, I was able to coordinate many book drives to found community libraries for children in different communities around Managua, Masaya, and Granada; this project was called “Barriotecas.” Now, my hope for the future is to complete my master’s degree and be able to work for the protection of children’s rights. It also excites me to conduct research about and with children in the future.
I am so looking forward to learning how to apply the Kindred Activism philosophy in my day-to-day life and future work. I will be learning from the instructors and kindred fellow graduates who are activists themselves. I want to get to know them and the initiatives they currently lead or are part of. I am really motivated about it, but I am pretty sure, I will be more motivated after the fellowship program to help heal the world through kindred activism.
Stephany Ayestas, University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany
Dillon Alexander Methven Cathro (he/him) serves as a program manager within the University of Michigan School of Social Work Office for DEI, a role he hopes to leverage as much as possible in order to support BIPOC and other socioeconomically marginalized student populations on campus. The only child of a single mother, and the product of a community-based approach to child-raising, Dillon has a passion for helping students to seek out and access academic, professional and social resources on and off campus, in order to foster a wraparound-service approach to student wellness and success.
Dillon is clear and transparent in his mission to combat systemic injustices, and looks forward to developing more tools to support youth and families, through participation in the Kindred Fellows Program.
Dillon Alexander Methven Cathro, University of Michigan School of Social Work
My name is Lauren Kim and I am entering my third year in the Fall at the University of California, Santa Barbara where I am majoring in Sociology. I have always had a deep admiration for fostering connections and participating in community service. I believe that the greatest work that we as humans can be a part of is rooted in togetherness and understanding the stories of those around us. Some of the most impactful experiences in my life have been working with nonprofits and gaining a stronger understanding of how individuals come together to create meaningful and loving change in their communities. Working with non-profits has been a lifelong interest of mine and I believe that working with Kindred will allow me to work alongside passionate and like-minded individuals while continuing to enhance my skills in communication, leadership, and non-profit work.
I am very grateful for this opportunity and am looking forward to all that is to come this summer!
Lauren Kim, University of California, Santa Barbara
Courtney is an educator, birth worker, and a doctoral student in the Urban Education Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. She aims to contribute to a world where Black children are free. She is a member of the Society of McNair Fellows and earned an M.A. in Special Education from The George Washington University. Her past work focused on building partnerships with resilient Black youth in D.C. through education, advocacy, and workforce development. Courtney’s research investigates unschooling, homeschooling and self-directed education as forms of Black liberation, fugitivity, and refusal. Her work illuminates the decolonized education and parenting practices engaged by Black families that help to facilitate their children’s autonomy, agency, and freedom. When she’s not thinking about birth and alternative education, Courtney enjoys being curious and taking deep dives into true crime mysteries, spirituality, and finding new places to take long walks. She loves animals, the ocean, and asking questions. Her perfect day includes laughing with friends, enjoying nature, and eating warm chocolate chip cookies.
I applied to the Kindred Fellows Program because the organization provides training, resources, and networks around subjects I am deeply passionate about! I believe my learning from this opportunity will help bridge my research with action, in partnership with the young people and communities I serve.
Courtney Douglass, Urban Education Program at the University of Maryland, College Park
My name is Youbin Park, and I am honored to be named a Kindred Fellow. I was originally born and raised in South Korea, and I immigrated to the states about eleven years ago. I am currently double majoring in psychology and criminal justice, hoping to attend law/graduate school to earn a JD/PhD in psychology. Beyond academics, I am a writer at heart. I have been published in Dreamers By Night magazine and Behind the Vision anthologies, and I enjoy all forms of creative writing.
The Kindred Fellowship called to me because of two main reasons: first, it aligned with my career goal of reform based on childhood. Second, the network of support that the fellows provide for each other to promote life-long growth is something I was looking for during these transitional years of my life.
Youbin Park, Columbus State University
Hi there! My name is Siri, and I am a rising senior at UW-Madison majoring in psychology. I’m interested in looking at mental health and wellbeing holistically and systemically by considering the impact of the environment on the individual. I’m also interested in learning about the effects of childhood adversity on adult wellbeing and functioning, through the lens of intergenerational trauma, with a focus on those who have been impacted by interpersonal trauma. I’m a member of a research lab on campus that has been looking at parenting during the pandemic, which has given me great insight into family dynamics during periods of upheaval or crisis. I am also currently training to be a hotline volunteer at a nonprofit focused on helping those affected by domestic violence. I hope to apply what I have learned thus far to my work with Kindred. After college, I plan to go to grad school to become a psychotherapist. In my free time, I love discovering new music and finding inspirational ideas or quotes to add to my commonplace book!
What really drew me to Kindred was the social justice perspective based in the childhood experience, the strong community of advisors and fellows coming together to tackle the most pressing social issues of today, with that perspective in mind, as well as the space to develop our understanding of and share what we are passionate about. I look forward to learning more about Kindred Activism and how I can use it in my own life and work through this fellowship!
Siri Nibhanupudi, University of Wisconsin-Madison