SVCF summer fellows support scholarship and corporate responsibility work

SVCF Summer 2019 fellows Haeli Baek and Danya Adib-Azpeitia with  President & CEO Nicole Taylor.
SVCF Summer 2019 fellows Danya Adib-Azpeitia and Haeli Baek with President & CEO Nicole Taylor

This summer SVCF welcomed two student fellows from Stanford University. During the nine-week program, Haeli Baek worked on our scholarships team and Danya Adib-Azpeitia worked in corporate responsibility. Get to know them both in a Q&A!

SVCF: Hi Haeli and Danya! Can you both tell us a little bit about your background?

H: I grew up in San Diego but I’m in the Bay Area now for college! I love the fast-paced and diverse environment of Northern Callifornia.

D: I’d like to give a shoutout to my parents and the public education system -- without them immigrating from different countries and meeting in a physics class at UC Berkeley, I wouldn’t be here. Though my mom is from Mexico and my dad is from Iran, I was raised in Silicon Valley. I briefly attended University of California Santa Barbara, dropped out and enrolled at Foothill College, and eventually transferred to Stanford, where I will be a senior next year.

SVCF: What are you studying? 

H: I am currently attending Stanford University majoring in Symbolic Systems. Symbolic Systems is an interdisciplinary major that includes the subjects Computer Science, Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics. As for the concentration within the major, I am deciding between Human Computer Interaction and Computer Music!

D: I am also studying Symbolic Systems. I sometimes joke that though my major seems like it’s for people who can’t make up their mind, it’s for those who mind what they make :) I am currently designing a concentration called “Human-Planetary Interaction” to study how to biohack and best activate empathy!

SVCF: Why are you interested in scholarships and corporate responsibility (respectively)? What do you hope to gain from this fellowship? What have you learned so far? 

H: I’ve always been curious about the impact educational scholarships actually have on the recipients. How are the right individuals—those who will not be able to pursue further education without external funding—chosen in the first place? Who determines who is “right” or “more right” for these scholarships? How much do scholarships actually impact the economic mobility of low-income students who receive them? These are all questions I’ve come in with and I’m grateful to be able to explore these questions in the 9 weeks I am working here. For many low-income, first-generation students, a scholarship or grant is their only means of being able to attend college; however, even with scholarships, there is an extremely high unmet need. It has been eye-opening and inspiring to read the stories of the scholarship recipients and what they strive to achieve in the future through their education. Working here has allowed me to learn more about how philanthropy seeks to serve the community, what “community” means, and how the scholarship process can be improved to be more intentional and accessible.

D: While I was at Foothill, I helped start an activism club and ran for president of the Associated Students. My experience leading the student government excited me to see change happening at a more institutional level. This curiosity, coupled with an overwhelming responsibility awarded to me through my privileges, then prompted me to want to explore philanthropy. As a Sand Hill Fellow through the Haas Center (Stanford’s Public Service Center), I am excited to learn as much about the field as I can in nine weeks. Specifically, I am interested in CR as a nexus between the public and the private spheres, solving problems and delivering for clients in a way that works for all stakeholders.

SVCF: Tell us about your role within the organization and your team. What does an average day or week look like?

H: As the Scholarships Fellow, my primary project this summer is to explore ways the scholarship team can efficiently utilize recipient data in order to form a more intuitive report that analyzes the impact a given scholarship has had on its awardees. This requires me to research what our donors want to know about their recipients and collect and compile that data, including: ethnicity, whether or not the recipient is first-generation, whether or not the recipient actually earned their degree, how much money was awarded for a given year, and much more. With this data, I have been working on designing customized dashboards for each scholarship that display relevant statistics in a user-friendly way, so that our clients can understand better the impact their contribution has been making on scholarship recipients.

D: I am currently a fellow in the Corporate Responsibility department. I am grateful to the team and to have Jody Garcia as my supervisor. Many of my days are filled with meetings to learn about CR and different foundation departments. When I’m not in meetings, I am at my desk researching and compiling information for our initiatives.

SVCF: What has your experience been working at SVCF?

H: I love the SVCF staff! Everyone is extremely dedicated as a coworker, team member, and friend; they truly have some of the most beautiful hearts. I’m reminded daily that there are people in this world who care deeply about their communities and are committed to making a difference in all the little and big ways that matter.

D: I like working with people that care so much. During my first week at the foundation, I was able to attend the CR department retreat. I was a bit nervous about the work ahead, but the team blew me away with how they welcomed me. 

SVCF: What projects are you excited about? 

H: I may be slightly biased, but I’m most excited for how the scholarships team is working towards being more user-friendly in their design of different programs and materials. Along with being more efficient, this approach will improve communication with clients and advance our relationships with them.

D: I am excited about CR’s Women in Tech program. As a fellow, I am helping compile resource guides connecting nonprofits working in this space to donors. I am also excited for our AI + Ethics project, as I am creating an introductory report outlining key issues and relevance to the foundation. I appreciate that SVCF is in a unique position to engage with these critical problems.

SVCF: Can you share a favorite example of SVCF's community impact work? 

H: As a college student who personally would not be able to afford my education without the scholarships I have received; I appreciate the various scholarship programs that SVCF offers because they truly go a long way in making education more accessible. I especially love that a majority of SVCF’s scholarships are based on need rather than merit. With the education they are able to pursue with these scholarships, low-income students are better equipped to achieve more economic mobility and consequently contribute to closing the socioeconomic gap in education.

D: I'm interested in the work being done around immigration and protection of rights, as it is both deeply personal and deeply pertinent. For instance, hearing about the cross-departmental collaboration on Census 2020 and the lobbying work for AB-60 was extremely eye-opening to me. I also appreciate the work being done to address the housing crisis, as some of my friends were homeless while attending Foothill College. The points outlined in the Summer 2019 newsletter really resonated -- using public policy, prevention, grantmaking, innovation, and partnerships in tandem to address the crisis. It is important to leverage our privilege and voice for the voiceless.

SVCF: What do you like to do outside of work and your studies? Do you support any local nonprofits?

H: I’m an extreme fan of Broadway musicals, action movies, books, travel, and exploration in all aspects of life! Music has always played a huge role in my life. In my time at college thus far, I’ve been playing flute and piccolo in the Stanford Collaborative Orchestra: a student-run, conductor-less chamber orchestra. I’m also involved in a club called Kids with Dreams which serves children and young adults in the community with special needs through various programs that focus on fun recreational activities like dance, basketball, and music-making! And apart from these commitments, I love wandering and getting lost in cities, trying new foods, and watching game shows.

D: When I’m not running to class or finishing a problem set, I salsa dance and DJ. My family and I also love to go to farmers markets and meditate together. I make sure to give away 10% of my income a year. Even though I don’t make much at my on-campus job, I think it is important to build a habit of altruism. In the past I’ve donated to organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Malaria Consortium and the San Francisco Symphony.