Michaella Coughlin, Mount Holyoke College
Michaella Coughlin has been instrumental in establishing Mount Holyoke College’s collaboration with a rapidly growing yet under-supported resettled refugee community in Springfield, MA. In partnership with two fellow student leaders, Michaella has crossed significant cultural and linguistic barriers to build and maintain rapport with families and leaders in an immigrant Somali community dispersed throughout a sprawling city, while simultaneously recruiting, training and peer-mentoring dozens of Mount Holyoke College student volunteers to provide wide-ranging family literacy support in a weekly tutoring program held at the Scan360 Family Center in Springfield. Michaella is a leader whose poise and professionalism have been critical in overcoming an extraordinary range of challenges in a campus-community collaboration for which local organizations and social service infrastructure are not sufficient to respond to pressing resettlement, educational, and basic needs. Michaella has taken on one difficult obstacle after another with great resilience and persistence, as she moves Mount Holyoke toward a sustainable and mutually beneficial partnership for learning and service that contributes to the growth and stability of marginalized and dispersed refugees while offering immense learning and growth for students here and among the other Five College institutions with whom we are collaborating.