Extraordinary graduates leave their mark at Chapman University

At Chapman, graduates don’t just earn diplomas, they also leave legacies big and small on campus and beyond. Here, we introduce a few of the many from the Class of 2018, whose contributions made the world a little bit brighter.

A Bold Voice for Dialogue

Brittney Souza ’18 chuckles when she thinks back to the “goal board” she sketched out when she arrived at Chapman. If she could just lead one student club and complete a single research project, she would be happy.

But Souza soon discovered how one thing leads to another at Chapman.

Among other accomplishments, she founded a club that drew more protesters than new members at its first meeting. She and a classmate launched a chapter of J Street U, a campus-organizing arm of J Street, which works toward a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine.

“We were met by people who came to shut us down…It was a really interesting political climate,” she says.

Slightly rattled, she and her fellow organizer considered calling it quits. But, they stood strong. Since then, the chapter has grown and sent 30 students to the organization’s national conference in Washington, D.C.

Shining a Light on Hope

Every student project is a good learning experience. But when one doubles as a valuable tool that helps raise money to fight homelessness, the lasting impact is like a blast of the ultimate extra credit.

Just ask broadcast news and documentary film major Rachel Lattin ’18. She edited and shot much of the footage for the documentary, “Black Sheep,” which profiles the life of an Orange County man battling chronic addiction and homelessness. The 20-minute documentary was a highlight of the presentations at a gala that raised $50,000 for Our Father’s Table, a South Orange County non-profit.

“It was just really exciting to see that they could benefit so much from something we made and it wasn’t just going to be another film that gets lost in the huge body of films on the internet,” Lattin says. “It actually was seen by people and helped raised awareness and will continue to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness.”

The organization’s website features a shorter but similar version.

Creating New Ways to Help

Frankly, Daniel Uesugi ’18 worried about his decision to travel to a small town on the west coast of Peru for a service learning medical trip. He arrived to a hotel that didn’t have his reservation in a town thick with humidity, crowds and traffic.

But all those qualms faded as Uesugi found the hotel that did have his reservation and settled in. Because he was on a mission — literally. The kinesiology major was a volunteer for MEDLIFE, which takes mobile medical clinics into some of the poorest villages of Peru, Ecuador and parts of Central America.

He worked several stations in the clinic, but spent much of his time with the dental team, learning to make dental molds and instructing mountain villagers in the proper use of their new toothbrushes–a first for many.

Uesugi decided he couldn’t let his trip become a solo experience. When he returned to Chapman, he founded a MEDLIFE chapter, setting the stage for other students to follow in his path.