Junior Fellowships Awarded to Class of 2022

Branson was pleased to announce this year’s Junior Fellowship recipients from the Class of 2022 in February. In an unusually challenging year, and one where we know it will be especially difficult for students to find summer internships and jobs, we were fortunate to be able to offer a $1,500 grant to all juniors who applied! All 21 applications were excellent and clearly deserving of this support. We are excited and honored to announce the following recipients:


Joaquim ArauzMoore
More than three million concussions occur each year in the US and less than half of those are unreported. My personal experience with sports-related brain injuries has inspired my interest in teaching others about brain health and healing from brain injuries. As part of my fellowship, I will be working with a nonprofit organization to help educate others, particularly youth and coaches in sports programs locally and abroad. I will also be exploring the various rehabilitation treatments used for brain injuries. The information that I intend to share will be useful not only for those who may experience a brain injury but also will include information about how everyone can keep your body and brain healthy to help prevent injuries.

Manelle Dillard
For my fellowship, I’m exploring conservation and biology through a wildlife biology course and internship at the Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming. The Teton Raptor Center focuses on the conservation of habitats, as well as care and rehabilitation for birds, including owls, falcons, and more. Through my experiences there, working with their clinic crew and banding birds for research, I am hoping to gain skills and knowledge that I can bring back to the Branson community, as well as carry with me after I leave.

Julia Lippman
For the first part of my project, I am going to be working as an intern with the Kahalu’u Bay Education Center on the Big Island of Hawaii. I will be trained in their Reef Teach program and learn about how to work with and educate the public and beach visitors at Kahalu’u Bay about coral reef protection. The second part of my project is to build a website geared toward middle school students about coral reef issues, coral reef care, and the effects of global warming in general. On the website, I will incorporate my artwork about global warming to create a visual learning experience. Lastly, I will provide an opportunity to donate to organizations linked on the website – for example, Adopt-a-Reef.

Lilli Mishalko
My project will combat period poverty in the Bay Area and make the right of reliable and comfortable access to information and resources a reality for every female in the Bay Area. My project is in partnership with Girlology, a company founded by my aunt, Dr. Melisa Holmes, an OBGYN named among the best doctors in America. My project will provide underprivileged females in the Bay Area access to free tampons and pads, in addition to free memberships and classes with Girlology, in the hope to educate them and provide them with all the resources, both physical and remote, needed to help them thrive as healthy females.

Luke Tusher
Perhaps the biggest challenge for future generations will be figuring out sustainable solutions to climate change. One of the most impactful ways of achieving this is by reducing methane emissions, specifically through the way people farm. Over the 2021 summer, I plan on exploring more about the future of sustainable farming farming. My project will include a podcast series of interviews with experts on the field, as well as exploring ways to shift attitudes towards meat. I hope to gain a better understanding of what causes certain attitudes towards meat consumption, as well as what the environmental and economic impacts would be if meat intake decreased.

Katie Vostrejs
For my Junior Fellowship project, I’m planning on participating in an 8-week internship at a NASA research center on pollution in Earth’s atmosphere. In the best case scenario, I will be able to physically travel to Virginia (Langley Research Center) or New York (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) this summer for my internship. After that, I wanted to have an applicable perspective on what I learn during my internship, so I am planning on shadowing a senior scientist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco to end my summer.

Connor Williams
My fellowship topic is research into the impact of music on the brain and learning, with a specific emphasis on special needs individuals. My hope is to develop a music element to Branson’s work with special needs individuals, as well as to educate neurotypical individuals how music stimulates their brain. I plan on reaching this goal by researching the topic on my own and talking to experts.



Olive Fahlen
I will spend my summer learning about the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and the criminal justice system through a class at Stanford University. I will bring this experience to Branson freshmen next year by designing and teaching a human development class and starting a club that examines the stigma of mental illness in the justice system and discusses topics such as restorative justice and alternatives for prisons.



Will Bollini
Regardless of where or when in the world, we see a cycle present at all times throughout our history – a cycle where the youth generation is our future. With prior knowledge from other educational retreats, building upon leadership skills and the knowledge that I will acquire over the summer from participating in a nine-day social justice leadership course, I will return home with new knowledge on fundamental leadership tactics allowing me to start an educational leadership camp for younger adults. Educating the youth members of our community and helping them be the best civic leaders they can will diminish prevalent school system issues that have faced students for generations. Ultimately, education on civic leadership can stop, in the future, other larger world problems like societal-taught racism. Through empowering the youth and equipping them with the skills necessary to practice “good” civil and social leadership, together, the youth generation will always be able to start a change they want to see in the world.

Will Fletcher
Anti-Semitism is rising dramatically in Marin. Through a series of interviews with community leaders, Jewish youth at Branson and local high schools, law enforcement, and social justice activists, I hope to express how large of a problem anti-semitism is, how it affects people, and how to combat and abolish it. Also, I hope to learn about how this hatred threatens our community. I will film these interviews and then compile them into an online catalog for the Branson community to view and learn about these experiences.

Henry Houser
I am going to be using the Chase Fellowship to further my involvement in the construction of a central park for our town, by using the money to sponsor an informational kiosk for public awareness and input. I will also be joining the San Anselmo Community Advisory Committee in their student position, the Community Fundraising Subcommittee for the park, and continuing my work with Brian Colbert to help with public outreach.

Leighton McCamy-Miller
My peers and I are becoming adults in a time of acute crises in America. If we’re going to be able to make a meaningful impact on the issues we face democratically, we’re going to need the best possible training in the complex set of inclinations and capacities that make up responsible democratic citizenship in a pluralistic society. In recent months I’ve identified and begun to build relationships in a network of organizations across the country that have developed various models to help high school and college students come into their role as responsible citizens. With the Chase Fellowship, I will broaden this research and  provide Branson and its peer schools in the Bay Area with a digital report of national best practices in citizenship education.

Maddie O'Keefe
Over the 2021 summer, I will create an outline for and host a one-day Civil Discourse Conference for Branson students. The main purpose of my project is to encourage and inspire more empathetic discussion. There is a status quo during these polarized, complex times: to villainize the opposing point of view, rather than working with or understanding it. I want to empower students to openly share their opinions and understand others, starting simply through supplying them with basic knowledge about how to productively converse, disagree, and engage. I will attend workshops, take a summer course, interview professionals, and conduct research over the summer in order to maximize the impact of my project.

Alexia Oltramare
With the Chase Fellowship, I will continue improving my website Yourdoggymatch.com (a database of local Bay Area shelters) to grow outreach and impact by helping more dogs find loving homes. I will also expand it to help abandoned dogs in various parts of the globe find a good home. More specifically, the Fellowship will enable me to hire professional programming help to increase the efficiency of my basic algorithm and improve the overall user experience. With these changes in place, I will be able to focus on adding dozens more local shelters to my network, as well as Love4Satos, an organization that rescues and rehabilitates stray dogs in Puerto Rico, then transports them to the United States to find forever homes.

Will Tolmie
This upcoming summer, I intend to foster the academic development of young children and fulfill my lifelong passion of being an educator as a teacher for Breakthrough Collaborative in San Francisco. I believe that educational inequity is the biggest civil rights issue we face because it creates unequal economic, social, and political outcomes, and I hope to actively combat these societal barriers to ensure that every student is granted an excellent education in my time at Breakthrough Collaborative. I cannot think of a better way for me to pay tribute to the life of Scott Chase than instilling a sense of curiosity in today’s youth by assuming the role of their teacher, enabling us to encounter new experiences and new obstacles that will provoke us to stretch ourselves and learn from each other in countless ways. Nothing has ever been set in stone about the manner in which students can be educated, and I will find great joy in treating the classroom as if it is a space for me to improvise as I would in acting class, discovering new ways all the time to pursue the common purpose of learning.

Spencer West
265 million people throughout the world are in crisis. 44% of Americans are afraid they won’t be able to afford food. This problem has exploded in our very own backyard as well. Prior to coronavirus, families were struggling to feed themselves, pay their bills, and maintain stable employment. People are now being pushed to the brink of financial collapse because of the pandemic. There is a misconception that the Bay Area is immune to this problem, but food insecurity threatens the health, wellness, and future of significant populations locally and has increased exponentially due to the coronavirus. For my project, I will increase awareness of this problem and make an attempt to make a significant difference in our community by starting a nonprofit to collect food donations and help address food insecurity. Starting a nonprofit is a difficult task, but throughout this process I will learn about the different federal and state procedures to qualify as a nonprofit to help support many communities around the Bay Area. 



Reese Dahlgren
Writing is a powerful tool that helps me understand myself and the world around me. Whether it’s journalism and learning how to write current news stories or forming a narrative based on my own experiences, it has become a core aspect of my identity. This summer, I plan on developing both journalistic and creative writing skills and will use what I learn to help others explore their own story-telling abilities. 

Andrew Parrot
Stories define who we are. Whether it’s on a page, on a screen, or just an anecdote told among friends, storytelling is a passion of mine and one that I will pursue with the help of the Chilton Fellowship. I will take a college-level screenwriting class in Southern California, where professors and industry professionals can teach me the art of storytelling on the big screen. By the end of the summer, I will emerge with a fully-polished screenplay and a newfound vehicle to help fellow Branson students get their stories heard, too.



Sofia Bobroff
Because we are living through such unprecedented times, it’s extremely important that we document our experiences so future generations can understand the different ways in which people’s lives were impacted. I find it incredible that we are the primary sources for this event, and in 100 years, it will be our diaries, paintings, and pictures that will be first hand accounts of the COVID-19 pandemic that last. This summer, I plan on interviewing teenagers from around the world of different socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, and walks of life on their experience of the pandemic. From there, I will create an art piece from each person’s interview that will reflect their emotions and feelings during this unparalleled time, and along with each painting I will create a short narrative so viewers can understand the meaning behind each piece.

Sage Sanderson
I want to use my love of gaming and knowledge of the industry to positively impact children who are hospitalized, an already-bad situation made even lonelier by the pandemic. I will work with an organization to help them set up a virtual form of volunteering with hospitalized children and make sure they have safe games and the resources to play. I also want to conduct a research project into how video games can be used for educational purposes. This past year has caused a giant upheaval in education, and I believe that games can be used positively in the time of virtual learning and beyond.

Natalie Wendt
This summer, I will explore my love of fashion and interest in sustainability by collecting clothing donations from around the Bay Area and running a pop-up thrift store in San Francisco. Through my project, I hope to encourage people to be more aware of the impact of fast fashion and show them that recycled clothing can be affordable and fun. I plan to donate 100% of sales from the thrift store to Friends of the Urban Forest, which is an organization in San Francisco that supports the environment by planting and caring for street trees and sidewalk gardens.