Kiana “Kiki” Sosa ’15 and Kayla Cody ’15, both Boston Posse Foundation scholars, have been awarded Hamilton’s prestigious Bristol Fellowship. The fellowship is designed to encourage Hamilton students to experience the richness of the world by living outside the United States for one year and studying an area of great personal interest. Cody and Sosa will each receive a $30,000 award.
The Bristol Fellowship was begun in 1996 as part of a gift to the college by William M. Bristol Jr., (Class of 1917). The purpose of the award, created by his family, is to perpetuate Mr. Bristol’s spirit and share it with students of the college that was such an important part of his life.
The Posse Foundation enables urban high school students to attend top-tier colleges and universities by offering full tuition scholarships.
Cody’s project is titled “Through the Eyes of Children: A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Adolescent Mental Health Care Systems” and Sosa’s is “Hip-Hop Theatre: Self-Expression, Solidarity, and Activism Among Youth.”
In her project abstract Cody wrote: “In 2000, mental illness contributed to 12 percent of the global burden of disease and this figure is anticipated to reach 15 percent by 2020. Although the rate of mental illness diagnoses among children and adolescents is alarming, there has been minimal discussion of this issue with regard to African and African Diasporic communities.
“I propose to conduct a cross-cultural exploration of the current systems of mental health care in place for children and adolescents (youth) with psychiatric disorders in Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, and Jamaica. These countries offer intriguing cultural perspectives on mental illness through their structures of mental health care services and social attitudes surrounding mental health.
Her proposal continues, “I also want to learn about the personal experiences of this population: How do youth with mental illness integrate into educational and social settings in their communities? Where is the stigma surrounding mental health most prevalent? What are the experiences of families and caregivers?”
Cody is an Africana studies and psychology double major. Last summer she was a research assistant at Boston University’s School of Education where she developed a project to assess how teachers support students with mental health challenges, and examined the influence of student race and gender in special education placement and mental health service referral.
In the spring 2014 semester she was a full-time undergraduate student intern/residential teacher at The New England Center for Children, Southborough, Mass. She completed extensive training in applying the principles of applied behavior analysis to teach youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental/behavioral disabilities.
At Hamilton Cody is a senior intern in the Admission Office. She is a volunteer and committee member of Hamilton Autism Advocates for NeuroDiversity (HAAND); a member of Hamilton Sexual Assault and Violence Education and Support Peer Advocacy; and vice president and treasurer of Alpha Chi Lambda Sorority.
Cody is the daughter of Billie Scott and Ronald Cody of Central Falls, R.I., and a graduate of Brookline Public Schools.
Sosa, an Africana studies major, described her project. “I will explore youth hip-hop culture in the language of theatre arts. I plan to work with youth artists in and out of the theatre in areas of writing and reworking, performance techniques, educational platforms and choreography in my exploration of how youth use hip-hop theatre to critically express themselves and the world around them.
“I find it most effective to study hip-hop as a culture of peaceful resistance. For this reason, it is important to approach the study of hip-hop theatre in areas where people are attempting to find creative spaces to communicate critical voices. These critical voices include, but are not limited to, self-expression, activism and solidarity, which are most apparent among the youth generation.
“The youth generation in Italy, Ghana, Japan and England are adopting hip-hop and reinventing it in ways that speak to the lives of youth in their communities. I am interested to learn how youth artists in these countries use and create hip-hop aesthetics and how they apply them to theatrical performances. I am also interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how hip-hop theatre is used as a tool to educate youth about subjects such as history and literature.
“To better understand hip-hop theatre I will immerse myself in all aspects of performing art. This includes all areas of production …. I intend to volunteer for community projects that incorporate youth, hip-hop culture and theatre… I intend to participate in art classes that may range from hip-hop dance to urban theatre in order to gain a clear sense of the hip-hop and theatre culture in each country. It is also important that I work closely with various local communities to provide me with the opportunity to observe how hip-hop theatre is used and influenced by the youth in each country.”
Sosa received a Levitt Public Service Internship Award in 2014; a Hamilton Career Center Summer Internship Award in 2013; and Posse Summer Leadership Awards in 2013 and 2014.
Last summer she was a volunteer K-6th grade teacher for WorldTeach in Pilón, Costa Rica.
In summer 2013 she served as programs intern/camp counselor Free Arts For Abused Children in Los Angeles.
Sosa has participated in the Latino Leadership Summit through Teach For America, New York; acts with Hamilton’s Bare Naked Theatre; is an executive board member for the Bias Incident Response Team; a tutor for America Reads Program in Utica; cultural/advertising chair for La Vanguardia; has served as secretary for the Black and Latino Student Union; a mentor for Peer Mentoring Program; and has accrued more than 100 hours of community service in various places.
In August, Sosa and theatre professor Mark Cryer will perform The Mountaintop at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
She is the daughter of Arelis Sosa of Lawrence, Mass., and is a graduate of Performing and Fine Arts at Lawrence High School.
The Bristol Fellowship is intended to be highly personal and is open to all interested Hamilton seniors. Proposals are evaluated based on inquisitiveness, a spirit of adventure, depth of personal interest and openness to other cultures. While not a requirement, proposals are also considered for their sense of family connection.
William Bristol served as a Hamilton trustee, president of the alumni association, fundraiser and benefactor. He was one of seven generations of Bristol family members to attend Hamilton, dating back to the chartering of the college in 1812.
Mr. Bristol’s great, great-grandfather became one of the college’s first trustees after helping to found the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, which later became Hamilton College in 1793.