Nine Yale Graduate Students Awarded Sabin Fellowships

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The 2013 Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellows, left to right; Jin Yin (China), Lia Nicholson (Antigua and Barbuda), Elizabeth Babalola (Nigeria), Renzo Mendoza Castro (Peru), Juer Song (China), Alemayehu Belay Zeleke (Ethiopia), Gladys Caballero (Colombia), Sonam Choden (Bhutan), Yufang Gao (China).
The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies selected nine graduate students as Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellows, with each Fellow to receive up to $40,000 of funding for their education and post-graduate service in the environmental sector.

The 2013 Sabin Fellows are Elizabeth Babalola (Nigeria), Gladys Caballero (Colombia), Sonam Choden (Bhutan), Yufang Gao (China), Renzo Mendoza Castro (Peru), Lia Nicholson (Antigua and Barbuda), Juer Song (China), Jin Yin (China) and Alemayehu Belay Zeleke (Ethiopia). For more about the fellows and their work, see below.

The Andrew Sabin Family Foundation created the Sabin Fellowship program at Yale in 2011 to provide scholarship support for students from developing countries, and to provide additional post-graduate awards to those students returning to their home countries and regions to pursue environmental careers.  Since, 2011, the Andrew Sabin Foundation has supported 26 Sabin Fellows, all graduate students attending the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

“I am excited to support these dynamic and energetic scholars from around the world through scholarships and by jumpstarting their environmental careers,” said Andrew Sabin. “My goal is to lower their debt burden while in School, and then offer a powerful incentive for each of them to return to their home countries and regions as quickly as possible to work on pressing environmental issues.  In the long-run, I’m hoping to help create a global network of committed young, environmental leaders who are tackling tough issues like climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Each Sabin Fellow selected in 2013 is eligible to receive tuition assistance up to $20,000 and another $20,000 in post-graduation awards.  The post-graduation award is contingent on the Fellow’s return to her/his native country or region within eighteen months of graduation and service in the environmental sector for at least twelve months.

“The School is incredibly thankful to Andy Sabin for his generosity and support of our international students, “says F&ES Dean Peter Crane. “The Sabin Fellows program goes beyond scholarship giving; it additionally provides students with an unparalleled opportunity to return to their home countries and put their Yale environmental education to immediate and practical use.”
Located in East Hampton, New York, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation is a private charitable foundation. It provides grants to nonprofit organizations with the single goal of protecting and preserving the environment.  The Foundation also started the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize at Yale, which supports student and faculty efforts to start sustainable for-profit businesses through a business plan competition.
The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies was founded in 1901 and is the oldest school in the country offering professional environmental and forestry education and training.   Graduate students come from around the world to attend Yale F&ES and international students typically comprise 20-30% of its student body. 

About the 2013 Sabin Fellows

Elizabeth Babalola looks ahead to building Nigeria’s next generation of passionate environmental professionals and volunteers. Combining her knowledge gained as a volunteer for the Nigerian National Youth Services Corp, her contacts within the environmental community and the model North American School curriculum for environmental education, Ms. Babalola’s plan is to establish “Green Clubs” – an extra-curricular environmental education program for secondary schools in her country.

Gladys Vivienne Caballero has almost 10 years of experience working with the United Nations. Upon graduation, she will focus on climate change adaptation and sustainable development in Latin America, especially in regard to water resources. Ms. Caballero plans to serve the Latin American and Caribbean regions, in the Colombian Government or in the regional United Nations system.

Sonam Choden plans to return to Bhutan’s Department of Forests and Park Services where she will focus on wetlands management. These Himalayan wetlands are critical not only for Bhutan but also as sources of fresh water for the neighboring countries of India and Bangladesh. She looks forward to contributing her expertise in maintaining Bhutan’s pristine environment and strengthening the “Gross Domestic Happiness “of her people.

Yufang Gao is dedicated to biodiversity conservation in the Tibetan Plateau, particularly in the Sanjiangyuan region. He has an offer of employment from Shanshui Conservation, a prominent Chinese conservation NGO.  China’s “Open up the West” campaign has caused large scale environmental degradation in the once undisturbed region. As an undergraduate student at the Peking University, Mr. Gao investigated the impact of policy changes on the Tibetan people and their land. Mr. Gao hopes to contribute to policy making for the conservation for Sanjiangyuan’s unique ecosystem and culture.

Renzo Mendoza Castro is focused on public-private partnerships to attain urban sustainability. Upon graduation, Mr. Castro will return to Peru and work for the City Government of Lima as an Urban Sustainability Consultant. He expects to address the urban governance challenges of this typical Latin American city, for example the urban squalor that often accompanies economic progress.

Lia Nicholson has non-profit experience in the Caribbean and would like to continue her family’s legacy of protecting the culture, history and ecology of the region. With a Masters in Environmental Management, Ms. Nicholson will seek employment as a Regional Liaison Officer at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Climate Change Center, transitioning to the prestigious CARICOM Secretariat. Ms. Nicholson will work toward closing the gap between “elite” policies and their implementation at the local level.

Juer Song seeks sustainability for China’s urban development. With the world’s largest population, highest growth rate and enormous energy consumption, the country needs skilled environmental professionals to achieve its objectives. Ms. Song aims to be a researcher and a communicator at the Chinese chapter of an international environmental institution or think tank, focusing on customizing policy to China’s unique needs.

Jin Yin is focused on developing community forestry and eco-tourism practices among the Miao ethnic group in South-western China. Ms. Yin hopes to be an advocate for the Miao people and their traditional forest management system.

Alemayehu Zeleke is dedicated to serving Ethiopia in the areas of agricultural development and food security. In the short term he wants to continue his research on natural resource management and agricultural policy. However, Mr. Zeleke recognizes weak governance as one of the impediments to agricultural development in the region, so he would eventually like to pursue a career in the public sector. 
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PUBLISHED: May 6, 2013

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