Courtesy of Neha Singh and Yacoba Zwennes

Last Tuesday, the American Association of University Women awarded Neha Singh SOM ’22 and Yacoba Zwennes NUR ’23, with fellowships for their work contributing to the global advancement of women.

The AAUW fights for equal economic opportunity for women. They advocate for pro-women legislation, work to close the gender pay gap and strive to overcome gender disparities in education. Each year, the organization awards seven categories of fellowships and grants to exceptional women in the United States. Zwennes and Singh were chosen for their commitment to bettering the world, particularly for women.

Zwennes, recipient of the International Fellowship, is pursuing her master’s in nurse-midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner at the Yale School of Nursing. The International Fellowship is for women who are pursuing full-time graduate or postdoctoral study in the United States, but who are not U.S. citizens. Zwennes is from Ghana and wants to help women in New Haven while she is earning her degree, and at home afterward.

“My goal is to make sure that I’m helping to improve reproductive health for Ghanaian women and so they can be empowered to take charge of their own health and make their own decisions regarding their reproductive and sexual health,” Zwennes said.

She said she also wants to help support Ghanaian women and children, both physically and mentally.

Zwennes is interested in pursuing a business career after graduation.

“I also want to be an entrepreneur in Ghana, and I’m hoping that whatever businesses I pursue there all sort of point to making women’s wellness in general better,” Zwennes said.

Singh, recipient of the Selected Professions Fellowship, is currently pursuing her master’s in business and strategy from the Yale School of Management. Women’s issues — both in the workplace and outside of it — are important to her.

The Selected Professions Fellowship is for women who are pursuing a master’s or professional degree program in a field where women are underrepresented, such as law, medicine, STEM or business.

“I applied primarily because gender disparity is something that’s really important to me so I liked that this organization focuses on supporting women, both women focused on business careers and nonbusiness careers,” Singh said.

Singh is also passionate about sustainability efforts. Before coming to Yale she worked for Girl Scouts of the USA, and led some of their sustainability initiatives. After graduation, she wants to help incorporate sustainable practices into companies across the U.S.

Singh is also taking classes through the Yale School of the Environment. She said she is excited to use the skills she learns at SOM — as well as those she gains from other Yale departments — in her career.

“This semester I’m taking two courses at the Yale School of Environment, which include business and environment and climate change policy, and one of the things I’m just really excited about this year is being able to take courses outside of the SOM and really further my perspective and understanding of various issues,” Singh said.

According to the AAUW fellowship winners directory, more than 25 Yale affiliates have won a fellowship or grant through the AAUW since 2004.

Katalin Balog, currently a philosophy professor at Rutgers University, won the American Fellowship while working at Yale in 2005. The American Fellowship is intended to help women complete dissertations or postdoctoral research. The award helped Balog fund a sabbatical year which she spent studying philosophy in Budapest.

“I spent a year there, that actually was a wonderful year, and part of my funding was from AAUW,” Balog said.

The AAUW is currently accepting applications for the 2022-23 academic year grants and fellowships.