Over ten years ago, a group of students proposed a Macalester fellowship that would allow students to carry out community projects. Since then students have developed and led initiatives through the Live It Fund all over the world, with projects ranging from solar installations in India to developing programs for at-risk-kids in cities to photography exhibits that explore body positivity.

What all the projects have in common is that they are the brainchild of students—developed, led, and executed solely by them.

We caught up with the most recent recipients. 


Asian American Film Series

Students: Mai Moua Thao ’22 & Tara Mercene ’22

Project: VIVID is an abstract/experimental film series which explores the personal experiences of Asian Americans. This project is a process reflecting the transforming society in representing Asian Americans. The purpose of the project is to highlight everyday complexities of the Asian American identity, one that is not glorified, romanticized, or following the flow of a model minority.

Best day on the job

Interviewing our author—it was a great experience because she was so real and down-to-earth! Hearing how much trauma she held inside and how willing she was to trust us with her experiences was also very heartwarming. —Mai 

Despite the small setbacks, this experience has definitely reignited our passion for a video series and production company, an idea that originated in our second year at Mac. We halted our work due to COVID but we’re excited to continue with our plans to produce a short film for the series once a month. —Tara


College access workshop

Student: Yosan Worota ’23

Project: Fere (Seed) Project is a four-week opportunity-access workshop, where Eritrean students in Sudan are taught how to brainstorm, structure, draft, and revise college essays. 

Best day on the job

Working on this project has been truly amazing. One of the best days occurred in early December when one of the students shared how he had convinced his high school to fund his college education. This led to seven other students receiving a scholarship. He was the same person to say I was too optimistic when I introduced myself and the purpose of my project. I didn’t think I would see the students’ willingness to initiate action so early on but I’m glad they did.


Deaf and hard of hearing website

Student: Sarah Estelle Noble ’22

Project: Hear for Success is a website created with insight from deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) college students who attend mainstream colleges to help DHH high school students. 

Lasting impression

While I have known all of the interviewees since the beginning of college, I learned new things about each of their experiences. Hearing about some of the harder situations they’ve experienced will stay with me, as it pushes me to try and create more community and support for other DHH students, to limit adversity. 


Financial literacy

Student: Kashvi Ajitsaria ’22

Project: Project Fin-nari is a a two-day workshop for cottage-industry workers in rural Maharashtra, India aiming to build financial literacy and foster a feminist knowledge-sharing community.

Best day on the “job”
The workshop itself was definitely the most engaging and rewarding since it threw me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to be fully engaged as a good facilitator. I also really enjoyed interacting with the workshop participants to collectively learn. It reinforced the importance of financial literacy and independence in people’s lives. It definitely solidified my interest in welfare economics. 

Photo exhibit 

Student: Tyler Sanchez ’24

Project: ‘Shades, Lovingly’ is an art gallery that focuses on a small town in Mexico and captures interviews and landscapes of what beauty means to them, hopefully changing the perception of Mexico.

Best day on the “job”

The best day was when my cousin took me to Atlixco and we just walked around the whole town buying food and taking photos. At the end of the day we made it up to the top of the city and got to see everything, which was so amazing.

The sounds of music

Grace Lin

Student: Grace Lin ’23

Project: This is What Healing Sounds Like is an art installation using music and art as a source of healing in times of hardships and trials. The prompt people are asked to answer is, “What is a song lyric that guides you during times of trial?” This is Healing is a way to inspire self-reflection, thought, and human connection and in hopes of figuring out how music is used as an outlet of comfort and what color people associate it with.

Best day on the “job”

The best day was the first time I set up the project at Washington Square Park. The night before, I had a dream that I spent too much time setting up the project, that I didn’t actually end up collecting any responses. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Initially, I was very nervous about talking to people, but after getting comfortable in the space and having everything set up, excitement took over and I stepped out of my comfort zone and naturally engaged with the people around me. The interactions were so lively and I was a little taken back by how many people were interested to hear what I was doing and the project. It was just so fulfilling seeing so many people come together in this shared interest and understanding of how music is so impactful in our lives.

Lasting impression: There was a lady who was looking at the project and she came over to me and said, “You’re doing something special.”

January 26 2022

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