Seven Local Students Win Recognition from The Princeton Prize in Race Relations

Friday, May 11, 2007
by Princeton University

PRINCETON, NJ – Lynn Mullervy, a senior at The Lawrenceville School, and Adam Shuit, a junior at West Windsor Plainsboro High School North, will be awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for their efforts to improve race relations in their schools and local communities.

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations is an awards program that recognizes high school students for outstanding work in their schools or communities that advance the cause of race relations. The program was launched in 2003 in Washington D.C. and Boston, and has grown to 19 host locations, including three areas in New Jersey — Central New Jersey, Essex/Hudson Counties and Northwestern New Jersey. It was created by alumni volunteers and is sponsored by Princeton University.

Lynne Mullervy, a senior at the Lawrenceville School, grew up in England and studied at an international school. The community of her early childhood was full of color and diversity. She came to Lawrenceville and the Princeton area because she wanted that kind of diversity in her high school years. She found that although there were representations of a wide variety of cultures and ethnic identity clubs on her campus, few of them interacted with one another. She founded the Cross Culture Club, so that her high school community could get to know each other across cultures. Her efforts have brought together several hundred faculty and students at a "Culture Fest", where more than 50 Cross Culture Club members shared their cultures with the community at large. Sam Washington, Director of Multicultural Affairs at Lawrenceville says, "Lynne's commitment to improving racial and cultural relations on campus is evidenced not only by her words, but also by her deeds." Lynne embodies the effort that the Princeton Prize hopes to encourage.

Adam Schuit of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North has demonstrated a deep sense of social responsibility throughout his high school career. He was awarded the Princeton Prize in recognition of Central New Jersey's inaugural Ten-Commandments Hike, where he organized over 125 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts to walk together from a church to a mosque to a synagogue. He, along with two other scouts, involved local politicians and religious leaders to create an ecumenical experience that challenged participants most deeply held negative stereotypes. In a time when religious differences divide our society deeply, we can be heartened by young men like Adam, and the innate humanity that drove him to act. In the words of his sponsor, Brian Chartock of the Beth Chaim Congregation, "Adam is selfless, wise beyond his years, and does things for others just because he cares about them. He is a true Mensch." The Princeton Prize was established to recognize and encourage exactly this kind of work, in the hope that rising generations of Americans are reminded that there is no reward like that reaped by helping their fellow man.

Five other local students will receive commendations for their work to improve race relations:

Melanie Alvarez, a sophomore at Ewing High School, is president and co-founder of a group named S.T.O.P. (Students Together Opposing Prejudice), which was started in response to a hate letter written by the K.K.K. Melanie and her group sponsor a variety of activities during the school year to promote dialogue among members of different races. It is their goal to "make our school, community and eventually the world a better place."

Lucy Breidenthal is a senior at Princeton High School. She is a member of a group called Growing up Accepted as an Individual in America (GAIA). This group serves as a diverse group of Princeton High School students who work to promote peace and break down racial barriers in Princeton. Lucy feels called to "serve the world and its people in hopes of building awareness for diversity and cultural understanding."

Daniel Neumann is a senior at The Lawrenceville School. He has devoted his time over the past year to improving relationships between Jewish and Muslim students by arranging joint events where the two communities can learn from one another. Daniel has worked hard to make sure "not to let our own backgrounds restrict us from understanding other religions."

Julie Strauss is a senior at The Pennington School. Julie established REACH, a mentoring program that partners private school students as mentors to youngsters in the Trenton Boys and Girls Club. She had the goal of "uniting people from different racial, economic and social backgrounds … by helping them to connect through their various passions."

Juan Trinidad is a senior at Trenton Central High School. Juan has been a reporter and photographer at Latino Enterprise Magazine to help inform, educate and help people in his community. His mission is to help members of his community to "participate in the decisions and course of the future" by helping them to stay informed. Through this he hopes to "eliminate the real problems of our society, like gangs or dropping out of school."

Students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 are eligible to participate in the awards program. Applicants must have been engaged in their volunteer project in the past 12 months and must submit a completed entry form. The application has two parts, one for the student and another to be completed by an adult supporter who is not related to the candidate, such as a teacher, guidance counselor, religious leader or neighbor. All students submit their applications to the University's Alumni Association, which then submits them to the appropriate regional committee for review.

The local committee of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations is proud to honor these outstanding young people who seek to do positive things in their communities at a reception at John Maclean House on the campus of Princeton University on Wednesday, May 23 at 5:30 p.m. President Shirley M. Tilghman will present the awards.

Princeton is strongly committed to advancing the cause of race relations on its campus. Among other efforts in recent years, Princeton has increased the diversity of its faculty, staff and student body; significantly enhanced its strengths in the field of African American studies; adopted the most progressive undergraduate financial aid program in the country; and launched a program of "sustained dialogue" on the subject of race relations among students, faculty and staff. With the Princeton Prize, the University intends to reach beyond its own campus to recognize the efforts of America's next generation of leaders.