Two Montgomery College Students Named in Class of Seven 2015 Frank Karel Fellows in the United States

Betzaida Nolasco and Marcia Puig-Lluch are chosen for Fellowship in Public Interest Communications

Montgomery College’s Betzaida Nolasco and Marcia Puig-Lluch were named Tuesday as two of seven students nationwide to participate in the 2015 Frank Karel Fellowship in Public Interest Communications. The Karel Fellowship program honors and advances the legacy of Frank Karel, who established, led and nurtured the field of strategic communications in philanthropy during his 30 years as chief communications officer for the Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations.

Described by her faculty sponsor as “demonstrat[ing] resilience and often sheer grit in persevering and performing extremely well in a rigorous honors program,” Betzadia will earn her Associate’s Degree in International Studies this spring. She plans to enroll as a junior at the University of Maryland this fall, after spending this summer working for DC Vote. Founded in 1998, DC Vote is a national citizen engagement and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening democracy and securing equality for all in the District of Columbia.

Among Karel’s strong beliefs was that racial and ethnic minorities were underrepresented in the public interest communications field and that foundations and other public interest organizations needed to be proactive in recruiting and nurturing broader participation and leadership in local, national and global advocacy.

Betzaida will be joined by Marcia, who will be earning her Associate’s Degree in International Relations this spring. Described by her faculty sponsor as “a student with a scintillating intellect and remarkable writing and communication skills as well as energy and commitment,” Marcia plans to continue her education at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University or American University in the fall. This summer, Marcia will be working for Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW). WOW works nationally and in its home community of the Washington, DC metropolitan area to build pathways to economic security and equality of opportunity for women, families and elders.

The Karel Fellowship in Public Interest Communications is a unique, hands-on, experiential summer program that inspires undergraduate students by exposing them to professional experiences as social change communicators. This Fellowship is especially focused on translating personal passion for a more just world into communication skills that elicit social change. Fellows—either first-generation or minority college students—gain hands-on experience through working on social justice issues, under the guidance of a communications mentor at leading local, national and global nonprofits in the Greater Washington, DC area.

Andy Burness, chair of the Karel Fellowship advisory committee, said, “I’m so excited about this class of Fellows. They are uniformly smart, passionate and enterprising – precisely what the nation needs for the next generation of social change makers.”

The Frank Karel Fellowship in Public Interest Communications is made possible by support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Spitfire Strategies, Burness, Brodeur Partners, the Viola Fund, and Betsy Karel.  Now in its fourth year, the Karel Fellowship is administered out of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, a network of funders dedicated to promoting increased, effective, and responsible philanthropy in the Greater Washington region.

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