Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

On Oct. 4, the Yale Alumni Association will recognize three Yalies as winners of the Yale-Jefferson Award for their contributions in public service.

The YAA annually honors a Yale College student, professional or graduate student and notable alumni with the Yale-Jefferson Award — an accolade for outstanding work in public service in Yale’s community and beyond. This year, the YAA recognized Nicky Brussel Faria ’21, Paola Figueroa-Delgado ’24 PhD and Margaret Flinter ’80 MSN. The winners’ contributions include work with housing instability, educational equity and healthcare accessibility. 

“The Yale-Jefferson Awards recognize individuals whose innovative, outstanding and sustained contributions in service to the greater good exemplify the leadership Yale strives to cultivate,” E.J. Crawford, the senior director of marketing and communications at the YAA, wrote in an email to the News. “As such, we look for candidates who embody these values.” 

The YAA honored Brussel Faria for her dedication to supporting those experiencing housing instability in the Greater New Haven Area. As a student leader of Y2Y New Haven — a joint initiative working to end youth homelessness in New Haven — she led a community in advocating for homeless youth. According to Brussel Faria, Y2Y is unique in its youth-specific focus, as most existing homeless service systems are designed to meet the needs of adults.

“Y2Y is founded in recognition of the youth-specific experience of homelessness and in recognition of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ youth who experience homelessness,” Brussel Faria said. “We want to create an affirmative and safe space where young people can feel comfortable to bring every part of their identity.” 

Brussel Faria spent her time at Y2Y working on direct service and advocacy. She felt that these two branches of service worked well in relation to one another. 

“People who work in policy need to be grounded in direct care experience, and I liked that this opportunity paired the two in a very unusual, special way,” she said. 

Brussel Faria graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in the History of Science, Medicine and Public Health. She will stay at the University for another year, pursuing a master’s degree in health policy at the School of Public Health.

The University honored Figueroa-Delgado for her innovative work in educational equity, diversity and inclusion. In bestowing the award, the YAA pointed to her position as the outreach chair of the Yale Biological and Biomedical Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Collective, where she has introduced two mentoring programs — the YBDIC Mentoring Program and a Program to Advance Training in Health & Sciences collaborative program — and an ongoing lecture series, “The Biological and Biomedical Sciences E-Lecture Series.”

The PATHS collaborative mentorship program pairs community college undergraduates and postgraduates with Yale mentors from historically excluded communities. The YBDIC Mentoring Program similarly provides community college students with Yale mentors, specifically to provide them support during transitional periods. 

“It’s a commonality that historically excluded individuals in the sciences have a feeling of isolation because they can’t identify a community,” Figueroa-Delgado said. “We wanted to make sure they had someone with their best interests at heart in that process.”

According to Figueroa-Delgado, a focus on the individual lies at the heart of her work. She meets with community college administrators on a regular basis to discuss how to best service their students’ changing needs, whether that be through a lecture, fireside chat or educational programs. 

Figueroa also runs an ongoing lecture series, “The Biological and Biomedical Sciences E-Lecture Series.” It features University faculty and postdocs with nontraditional career paths who share their experiences in science. 

Finally, the YAA honored Flinter for her diligent work in providing healthcare services to underprivileged communities. As senior vice president and clinical director of the Community Health Center, Inc. and founder of the Weitzman Institute,  Flinter said she works under the slogan, “Health Care Is a Right, Not a Privilege.”

Flinter served as a National Health Service Corp scholar and new family nurse practitioner at the CHCI clinic in Middletown, where she works with activists and clinicians to help patients all over Connecticut. Recently, the clinic has upheld its community-aiding role by providing mass COVID-19 testing and vaccine operations as well as hosting vaccine drives all over the state.

As an extension of the CHCI, Flinter founded the Weitzman Institute, which serves as a hub of research, innovation and training for the CHCI. The institute is working to address issues of health inequity across the state and envision different methods to provide equal healthcare access to all. 

Flinter reflected in a YAA news release that “in the years since leaving Yale, I have fully understood what it means to be a Yale nurse. The partnerships, support and inspirations just keep on coming.”

In 2007, Flinter launched the country’s first organized postgraduate residency and fellowship training program for new nurse practitioners. She pointed to her time at Yale as an inspiration for doing so, telling the YAA that just as Yale instilled a desire in her to succeed, she does the same by shaping the future healthcare providers of America.

The YAA will host a virtual award ceremony and fireside chat honoring the recipients Oct. 4 as part of Celebrate Service week from Oct. 4-11.

RACHEL SHIN
PALOMA VIGIL