Building Community Connections

February 28th, 2017   |   SIT Graduate Institute

Two current students at SIT’s Brattleboro campus have been chosen as community outreach coordinators for the 2016–2017 academic year as part of a community engagement program developed through the Susan Donna Lessenco Fund. The aim of the project is to create connections between SIT and the Brattleboro community to provide students with a chance to give back to and learn from community members and practice the skills they are learning in the classroom.

Both students—Fatima Sabri, from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Sara Jeckovich, from Rochester, New York—will receive scholarships to lead the program. Their goal is to engage at least five local organizations during the school year.

Fatima is in the MA in Sustainable Development: Advocacy, Leadership, and Social Change program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies with a minor in development studies from Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. She writes,

"I am really looking forward to be a part of this project as I have part of many social volunteer programs. I am so passionate to be connected to people and to be involved in humanitarian works. One of the things that I really love about being part of this program is that the activities we will be involved in will engage us all to have some sort of moral values. Just contributing an hour could help people who are in duress or need a helping hand."

Photo - Sara Jeckovich

Sara is in the MA in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation program. Prior to SIT, she was active in developing her community of Rochester, where she worked as a life skills trainer for adolescents, helping them overcome struggles and be active in their communities. She has also volunteered with refugees in New York, teaching English and basic life skills. As a community member devoted to youth development and social justice, Sara has organized countless community service projects in Rochester, helping to motivate youth and others toward a collaborative society.

Sara looks forward to getting more involved in the SIT and Brattleboro communities through this position and envisions this new program to be a monumental addition to SIT students and the larger community of Brattleboro. 

The Lessenco Fund was established to honor the life and ideals of SIT Graduate Institute student Susan Lessenco, who passed away in 1981 at the age of 26 while on assignment for Save the Children in Tunisia. Her father, Gilbert Lessenco, created the fund in her memory so SIT students could make meaningful contributions to the world in Susan’s name and spirit.