Each year, the John H. Pace, Jr. ’39 Center for Civic Engagement honors students and community members for their commitment, dedication, and innovation in the realm of service and civic engagement. At an outdoor luncheon Wednesday, November 17, the Pace Center acknowledged the contributions of four Princeton University seniors, a faculty member, and two community partners.
“Each of our awardees is responding to the needs of the world,” said Kimberly de los Santos, the John C. Bogle ’51 and Burton G. Malkiel *64 Executive Director of the Pace Center, as she addressed the crowd under the tent outside the Louis A. Simpson building. “They are motivated by their own values, they have developed relationships with those they are engaged with, and they are also carrying through the social responsibility they have – using their privilege and power, in whatever ways they have it – to make this world more equitable as well as more joyous."
The gathering was an opportunity to both celebrate and connect, as awardees, friends, and colleagues shared time and a meal together. Each award recipient was introduced by a Princeton staff member or colleague and received a framed award in acknowledgement of their contributions.
“Service is an important part of each of our lives, but it’s often something that is less visible at Princeton,” de los Santos added. “Gatherings like this give us an opportunity to celebrate service – to see each other, to honor each other, and to be in community, with community.”
A. James Fisher Memorial Award
Given in honor of A. James Fisher, Jr. ’36, the A. James Fisher Memorial Award is presented to a Princeton senior, or seniors, who best exemplifies the qualities for which Fisher is remembered. The Fisher Award acknowledges a demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, zest for life, love of people, and loyalty to Princeton through work in the realm of civic engagement. This year’s awardees include:
A senior in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Agnihotri was recognized for his commitment to building community, his courage to embrace the discomfort that stems from growth, and his unmistakable warmth and authenticity. Stephanie Landers, entrepreneurial program manager at the Keller Center introduced Agnihotri at the ceremony and noted his passion for music and expanding entrepreneurial opportunities for students at Princeton. Whether creating a mentorship program for undergraduate students interested in tech, serving as a principal for Prospect Student Ventures, the Princeton Guitar Club, or taking on the role of project manager for Engineers Without Borders, he has sought to help others find a sense of belonging.
In addition, Landers acknowledged his involvement in the Pace Center’s Community Action program, which introduces incoming students to service and community at the University. “As one reference said, many students engage in this program and take on leadership experiences, but with Ritvik, he has been involved for all four years of his time here at Princeton," Landers said. "His commitment to welcoming students and partners into the Princeton community is unparalleled.”
Bein is a senior in the History Department earning a certificate in vocal performance. She is also the President of the Glee Club and a singer with the Tigerlilies on campus. With a passion for learning, a passion for giving back, and a passion for people, Bein exemplifies both an entrepreneurial spirit and love of people. Gray Collins, Pace Center internships coordinator and Project 55 fellow, illustrated how Bein did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stop connection between youth and Princeton students with Trenton Arts at Princeton (TAP). Instead, her extensive research and adaptability led a new branch of TAP, Trenton Youth Singers, to not only survive, but thrive during the pandemic as she came up with innovative ways to strengthen bonds and teaching moments.
“Hannah has translated all of her passions into meaningful service leadership in the fields of history, music, and also social justice and policy work,” Collins said. “She has consistently proven herself to be a caring and effective mentor to younger students and peers alike as a tutor, a conductor, and a leader. In the words of another referee, Hannah’s cultivation of a culture of kindness and decency inspires others to be as kind as she is.”
A senior in the Department of Molecular Biology pursuing a certificate in computer Science, Frank is co-chair of the Student Volunteers Council (SVC) with the Pace Center and a devoted member of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS). When the University sent students, staff, and faculty home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 to protect everyone’s health and safety, Frank sought to return from California to continue as an emergency medical technician (EMT) to serve and support the local Princeton community.
As David Brown, assistant director at the Pace Center and staff adviser to the SVC, described in his introduction, Frank’s determination to not only come back, but organize others to continue to support PFARS in a critical time of need demonstrated not only his perseverance, but his care for everyone around him. “He came out and he showed it could be done, showed it could be safe,” he said. “By him doing the right thing, and really bringing us all together to do the right thing, in taking risk and thinking outside the box, that’s entrepreneurship and I’m glad we’re honoring it.”
A senior in the School of Public and International Affairs, Hess has served a number of communities during her time at Princeton. From co-chairing the University’s Disability Task Force and participating in Undergraduate Student Government, to being a journalist for The Daily Princetonian, an advocate for disability rights, and organizing the first disability awareness and inclusion Shabbat at the Center for Jewish Life, Hess demonstrates a clear desire to advocate for change and inclusivity. As noted by Victoria Yu, assistant director with the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, Hess is a consummate supporter of the Accessibility Center on campus and has never wavered in her commitment to ensuring everyone can truly be part of the Princeton community.
“Another recommender wrote how Naomi advocated to make Nassau Hall accessible,” Yu added. “And just over two months ago, Naomi became the first person in a wheelchair to tour Nassau Hall without assistance. For the last 265 years, people in wheelchairs could not access Nassau Hall without assistance, but thanks to Naomi’s advocacy and her determination to make our campus and society better, every student in a wheelchair from this year on will be able to tour Nassau Hall without assistance too.”
Community Engagement Award
The Community Engagement Awards are given to Princeton University faculty, administrators, and community partners who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to service and social justice that transcends the classroom. The Pace Center especially recognizes individuals who have inspired others on campus to join their efforts and who through their service to humanity have responded to needs in the world.
Greene, a professor in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, was honored for her guidance of and dedication to the Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI). As co-founder and faculty director of PTI, Greene has helped steer the course of the program for the duration of its 17-year history. With the support of Princeton University graduate student volunteers, PTI delivers high quality accredited coursework for incarcerated students in New Jersey prisons.
Erin Flowers, a graduate student and math and physics fellow with PTI, hailed Greene’s steadfast commitment to both teaching and championing PTI to ensure it continues to evolve and support its community – not only those on campus, but also those who have been systematically excluded from the educational system.
“Jenny has been an instructor since 2006, and anytime she teaches, I hear her passion and enthusiasm for her students and our mission rise to new heights,” said Flowers. “I am truly at a loss to understand how she can make our work with PTI constantly feel like her top priority and yet live whole other lives as a professor, a researcher, a mentor, a parent, a partner, a family member, a marathon runner, the list goes on and on. … To me, Jenny offers a new model of academic life that gives me hope for the role academics, and with them colleges and universities, might play in society.”
As a teacher at Trenton Central High School and director of the school orchestra, Pucciatti’s unfettered enthusiasm and dedication to his students is unparalleled. Lou Chen, program manager for Trenton Arts at Princeton (TAP), shared his own connection to Pucciatti as evidence. After reaching out to propose his idea as an undergraduate to recruit string students to be part of a small orchestra run by Princeton student volunteers, Lou said Pucciatti didn’t embrace or shut down his idea.
“Instead, he said to wait,” Chen said. “Come to rehearsal once per week and get to know the kids, and once you’ve gotten to know them better, once you’ve earned their trust, then can you introduce the idea to them? It was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten, and it worked. After a semester immersed in his orchestra, my friends and I began the Trenton Youth Orchestra.” Chen, now graduated from Princeton, oversees additional collaborations in dance, vocals, and theater with TAP.
Pucciatti’s energy, even in his 44th year of teaching, enables him to not only create a welcoming space for his students – a space rich in new opportunities, challenges and enrichment – but also to extend his passion for music outside the classroom as director of a synagogue choir, overseeing his beloved opera company, Boheme Opera NJ, with his wife Sandra, and writer of an original opera.
A lifelong educator and historian, Satterfield is known for her immense warmth, nurturing spirit, and deep knowledge. In preparing her introductory remarks, Melissa Mercuro, associate director for community relations in the Office of Community and Regional Affairs acknowledged the overwhelming amount of people who shared stories of the many ways Satterfield has touched their lives. In particular, Mercuro shared written remarks from Bethany Andra Saddiq, the coordinator of student services, family, and community outreach at Princeton High School (PHS), who had Satterfield as a guidance counselor in high school.
“Mrs. Satterfield taught me the power of knowledge and the importance of knowing the rich history of the African American experience in Princeton,” wrote Saddiq. “Mrs. Satterfield’s guided tours and her insistence that as PULSE members we all learn ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ truly changed how I look at myself as a young woman of color. … Over 20 years later, PULSE continues to meet at PHS and serves as a support sisterhood for young ladies on campus.”
In addition to Satterfield’s commitment to Princeton youth, she also shares her time, knowledge, and expertise with Princeton University students, offering insight into the rich history of the town of Princeton at conferences, discussions, presentations, and walking tours. “We honor you for being an advocate for voices and experiences that are traditionally pushed to the margins,” added Mercuro. “We honor you for the warmth you bring in the community you have built. We honor you Mrs. Satterfield for a lifetime of service rooted in love.”
All photography by Mark Czajkowski.