2022 Sentinels Fellows

2022 Sentinels Fellows’ names and report titles are listed below.  To read the abstract of each report, please click on the “+” to expand the content areas.

  • Wongi Ayele '24About 15% of the current US population consists of people born in a foreign country. This growing, diverse immigrant population is often left out of conversations on mental health along with a lack of contextual analysis from the lens of cultural values and societal beliefs. In addition to common stressors, immigrants are at higher risk for mental distress due to racism, stereotypes, stigma and difficulties in accustoming to radically new environments.

    In the Ethiopian and Eritrean community in the US, stigma around mental health is omnipresent and there is little to no research available on the mental health of Ethiopian and Eritrean American youth. My study sought to examine the role of public policy on 1st, 1.5 and 2nd generation Ethiopian and Eritrean American youth aged 18-25 in acquiring mental health resources. First, I researched current policies and acts for mental health resource access. In order to examine accessibility of resources, I determined the presence of need for resources through a pilot mental health survey conducted online. Next, I collected accounts of barriers faced by youth seeking resources, views on mental health and assessed social support through a structured interview. Finally, after analyzing the survey and interview, I researched various policies finding that improvement of school-based mental health programs would likely best support the mental health of Ethiopian and Eritrean American youth.

  • Food insecurity has been a persistent global crisis for decades. Countless community members in Berkshire County have been dedicated to the issue, apparent in the development of projects such as the Lanesborough Aquaponics Program, Community Gardens, Farmers Markets, and school recovery programs.

    Located in Washington, D.C., D.C. Central Kitchen has experienced success in promoting food justice, while creating a lasting impact in the community for over thirty years. They are known for their unique approach to addressing food insecurity, focusing on job creation through a Culinary Job Training program. Their other endeavors often support the graduates of the culinary training course by creating living wage jobs within the organization, and building community in the process. They emphasize the importance of providing healthy foods to individuals through the Healthy Corners and Farm to School programs. Additionally, D.C. Central Kitchen recognizes the immense waste in many food systems, and seeks to recover leftover food to transform into healthy meals for community members.

    D.C. Central Kitchen focuses on the urgent issue of providing food to those in need, while also creating a long-term impact through job creation, empowerment, and breaking barriers in the community. Their main goal is to eradicate hunger so as to deem their organization unnecessary in the future. This report analyzes the organization's many programs, funding, and goals, along with what is currently being done in Berkshire County. It brings ideas, awareness, and, hopefully, inspiration to our region.

  • Cara Sturdevant '25While Massachusetts ranks highly in public education, Berkshire County and the students thereof, fall behind. Educators and educational support structures across Berkshire County were interviewed to determine the root cause and develop a path forward to address this issue. Significant findings include deficiencies in pedagogical knowledge (including teachers and administrators) and subpar professional development hours which culminated in a fractured education network. Minor results include not teaching the required amount of 'science hours' and reallocating that time to ELA. This report focuses on where resources should be allocated to strengthen the pedagogical understanding of current teachers with a specific focus on STEM education. Potential difficulties to overcome include the intimidation factor around teaching STEM and bridging the divide between administration and teachers. A developed and incorporated STEM education will allow Berkshire County students to engage their intellectual curiosity and increase their ability to think critically, thus preparing them for long-term economic and social success.

  • This analysis presents a variety of strategies for estimating the effects of tax policy on the number and value of objects donated to art museums using publicly available museum data. Using the federal income tax rate on the highest bracket as our main explanatory variable, three models were created. In the first model, the dependent variable is the total number of objects donated to a museum in any given year, and in the latter two models, which have distinct inflation controls, the dependent variable is the total of the estimated values of all objects donated. The estimated values were generated using a hedonic model, which assigned each object an approximate price based on available object data. Current estimates about the effect of the highest tax rate on donations are inconclusive regarding the sign and magnitude of the effects of changes in the federal income tax, however they may suggest that charitable behavior has changed over time.

  • Kyungmin Yook '25This research paper seeks to uncover the resources available to refugees and asylum seekers in Berkshire County. To this aim, six individuals representing five local agencies were interviewed on their work with these populations. Their responses were categorized under common themes regarding the ease and difficulty that their refugee and asylum seeking clients face in obtaining needed resources. In Berkshire County, refugees and asylum seekers have access to critical resources that impact their well-being, though not without challenges.