The CCSC Finance Committee is proud to announce the 8 winners of this year’s Student Project Grants. It was very hard to pick the following 8 winners and we are deeply thankful to all who applied. Following is a list of the winners as well as a short quote from their application:

  1. Grace Tan and Constance Castillo – “Decide to Win”, “Spirit in Motion”, and “I think, Therefore I am”. A three-part film exploring the relevance of the scholar-athlete in modern education and focusing on the tensions between the athletic community and the rest of Columbia’s student body. “While Columbia’s athletic policies largely enforces this sense of social disconnect—policies that leave athletes feeling overworked and students resentful of the academic ‘perks’ made available to athletes…. we would like to use film to explore the forces driving apart social conceptions of athleticism and scholarship: the ways in which society privileges the mind over the body, the diminishing conception of a physical self in the personal process of identity-making, and the purpose of athletic achievement and mastery in a society that increasingly values mental goods.”
  2. Columbia Compliments. In addition to the great work Columbia Compliments has already done online, they will focus on more “real-life” projects that aim to inspire individuals to care for other members in the community. “With a bubble that often engulfs us in a stress culture, we unfortunately fail to reach our potential. We will aim to take away some of that stress, and allow students to make the best of the motivation they had when they once applied to Columbia.”
  3. Jane Brennan – Do it! Change it! Tell it! Remember it! A project, including a public oral history event and publishing a ‘student activism orientation guide’, that seeks to record and celebrate Columbia’s history of student activism. “Student activism on our campus has achieved many things from instituting the Center for Ethnicity and Race to changing our university bookstore’s practices so that all our campus apparel is now sweatshop free. However, the largest downfall of student activism is that there is very little historical memory… We are proposing a solution to this.”
  4. Jason Ravel, Anton Mayr, Marc Howard, and Alexandros Sigaras – Humanoid Robot. These students will attempt to design a life-size humanoid robot that will be able to interact with people and objects and manipulate its environment. They will demo the robot at fairs and on-campus events. “We hope to make this robot a standard platform for future Computer Science students at Columbia University to build software for and learn from… We hope to inspire students to create more incredible technology by example.”
  5. Michael Rady, Benjamin de la Piedra, Misha Solomon, and Lorenzo Gibson – Teacher trainings. Bringing biweekly professional instructional training sessions to campus. “Right now over 30 Columbia groups have almost 250 undergraduate students that tutor, mentor, or teach… with meager training on core instructional practices, such as lesson planning and classroom management. This project would offer such resources to Columbia undergraduate educators, empowering them to not only strengthen the impact they and their organizations have on local youth, but letting them approach teaching with greater confidence, making teaching more enjoyable, and leaving them more likely to continue participating in such activities.”
  6. Matthew Chou, Andrew Hamilton, Laura Mills, Vladimir Raskin, Trip Odom - The Russian Soul.  A documentary film about free speech and democratic values in Russia. “The question is answered against the backdrop of the historic protest movement unfolding in Russia, in conversations with Russian and American elites, ordinary people, and everyone in between…  The film draws on exclusive interviews with four prominent faculty members: University President Lee C. Bollinger, Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock, Former U.S. Ambassador Steve Sestanovich, and Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy Timothy Frye.”
  7. Bijan Samareh – Variety Show. A monthly variety show featuring campus comics, humor writers, and comedy groups. “A variety show would present the opportunity for stand-ups to practice their material. The closest comedy club to Columbia is almost 40 blocks away (Stand-Up NY), and after that, there isn’t one until you hit midtown. Comics need a supportive environment to test their jokes out, and open mics across the city are far away, poorly attended, and usually held in somewhat sleazy environments. Instead of having to deal with that, students would be presented the opportunity to critique each other’s material and develop their routines in a more welcoming environment.”
  8. Matt Horwitz and Kathryn HoughtonChess Missionaries. An ambitious project that involves constructing a string of chess programs across sub-Saharan Africa in order to promote chess education and global health. “The culmination of our actions would be to create self-sufficient chess organizations that are tied to and are able to fund public health initiatives… The principal aim of this movement is to organize people together from village to village in sub-Saharan Africa to not only raise awareness, but also take action for public health.”
 We are deeply appreciative of all the applicants and amazed by the creativity and ambition of our peers. Look forward to these great projects coming to campus soon!
For questions or concerns about Student Project Grants, please comment below or email Zach Vargas-Sullivan (jzs2113) or Daphne Chen, VP of Finance (dlc2146).