Brianne Ellis ’13, recipient of the Centennial Leadership Fellowship, is spending the summer in Honduras as an intern with the Hope for Honduran Children Foundation. She is staying at the Nuevo Paraiso village, which is home to more than 150 orphans, helping to distribute materials and school supplies to poverty stricken schools and orphanages.
In the morning, Ellis works with more than 20 girls developing their leadership skills, teaching on topics of civil engagement, advocacy, self-worth, confidence and sustainable living with the hope of helping each girl feel empowered.
“I hope to prepare them for a life of success opposed to the life that poverty will provide,” Ellis says.
Ellis has volunteered in Honduras three times before, and, for the past two years, has been developing a series of training sessions for impoverished teenage girls. With the help of the Centennial Center for Leadership, Ellis was able to recently attend the Clinton Global Initiative University in San Diego, California, which assisted her in her proposal for the Summer Centennial Fellowship.
“The people in Honduras have given me so much, and now I want to give them something in return. I want to help the future of Honduras: the girls who will be entrepreneurs, scholars, workers and mothers,” says Ellis.
The Hope for Honduran Children Foundation’s mission helps provide a nurturing environment for children living in extreme poverty in Central America. In addition to supporting them with food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education, the foundation’s ultimate goal is to instill the desire and provide the necessary tools for the children to become self-sufficient, caring, and responsible adults.
A rising junior with a dual major in sociology and Latin American studies and a minor in child advocacy, Ellis is a member of HWS Cheers, an active participant in William Smith Congress and Learn to Lead, and studied abroad in Mendoza, Argentina. She is the president of her William Smith class.
Ellis was awarded $5,000 through the fellowship, which required a rigorous application proposal and process, and is awarded to one student annually. Centennial Fellowships are made possible by the generosity and commitment of those who have donated in honor of the 100th anniversary of William Smith College.