First Ever Virtual Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation!

September 1, 2020

The 2020 -2021 Shinnyo Fellows and their respective supervisors and mentors met virtually for the Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation on August 6th, 2020. It was the first ever virtual Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation that Shinnyo-en Foundation hosted to ensure the health and well-being of all who were invited to take part in. We welcomed Sydney Cheung (Chapman University), Dora Najera (George Mason University), Carlo Sanchez and Beza Betty (Post-undergraduate and Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellows, Seattle University, respectively), Michael Solorio (The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University and Redwood City 2020), and Kelley Sheahan (UC, Berkeley) as this year’s Shinnyo Fellows. In addition, the following Shinnyo Fellows’ supervisors and mentors joined the Orientation: Julye Bidmead (Director, Center for Undergraduate Excellence, Chapman University), Jane Walker (Director, Undergraduate Service, the Carter School for peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University), Julie Hurst (Director, Campus Engagement, Center for Community Engagement, Seattle University), Jorge Ruiz de Velasco (Deputy Director, the Gardner Center, Stanford University), and Carrie Donovan (Assistant Director, Public Service Center, UC Berkeley). Newly joining the Orientation were Skyler Barton (Councilor, Berkeley City College) and Rafael Avendano (Executive Director, Redwood City 2020).

With Jorge Ruiz de Velasco’s skillful facilitation, all of the Fellows, their supervisors/mentors and the Foundation staff first engaged in the “Name Story” one of the Foundation’s Reflection Card activities. As they introduced themselves, they also learned a little bit about each other’s family experiences and cultural heritage as they answered the questions, such as “What is your name?” and “Where did your name come from?”

The five Post-undergraduate Shinnyo Fellows have recently earned a bachelor’s degree in varied disciplines from their respective universities. To respond to the previous Shinnyo Fellows’ wish to learn more about how to make a transition from a student to a professional successfully, Juaquin Sims (Program Director, Cardinal Careers, Hass Center for Public Service) was invited to share the tools and best practices in navigating the professional transition. He highlighted the importance of ACT; Affirmation, Communication and Time, assuring that the Fellows are qualified individuals who come with aptitudes and qualifications to work as professionals. However, Juaquin addressed that the feedback they are likely to receive and the meetings they would attend at workplace are unlike those of what they have experienced at school. Whether it is feedback, time management or communication, Juaquin emphasized the importance of observing closely and learning from colleagues and supervisors about what’s appropriate and socially acceptable at a particular workplace. During the 35 to 40 hours that the Fellows are expected to work every week, he also pointed out how critical it would be for the Fellows to maintain their social life outside of work. What Juaquin presented was exactly what the Fellows needed to hear at this critical time to gear up for their Fellowship.

For the Fellows only breakout discussion in the afternoon, Skyler Barton, the co-supervisor for Kelley Sheahan along with Carrie Donovan, introduced a reflective activity called “To Walk in My Shoes” and encouraged all the Shinnyo Fellows to write down and then draw on a piece of paper their significant events, people, motivational sources, passions, interests, dreams or goals to tell their stories. After sharing their stories with an artwork with each other, the Fellows shared their reflection on the activity with their supervisors and the Foundation staff.

In the other concurrent breakout, in the meantime, the Foundation staff met with all supervisors to discuss the challenges and successes to recruit and interview the applicants, and find the placements for the Fellows during the current pandemic. In addition, the supervisors shared their suggestions with each other about ways to encourage the Fellows to engage in deeper and meaningful reflections throughout their Fellowship.

Despite the initial disappointment of being unable to meet in person, as has happened in the previous years, the first ever virtual Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation was a great success. The Fellows engaged in the self-introductory activity in the morning and took part in the reflection activity in the afternoon with a youthful energy, enthusiasm, and attentiveness. The supervisors also had a chance to get to know this year’s Fellows a little bit more personally and share their best practices with other supervisors on supporting the Fellows to the best of their abilities at these challenging times. Based upon this successful virtual orientation, the Shinnyo Fellows and their supervisors/mentors voiced a strong interest in holding another virtual gathering in a few months. They wanted to check in with each other and keep a sense of camaraderie that they created during the Orientation.

The 2020-2021 Shinnyo Fellows are embarking on their Fellowship during the unprecedented times of social, economic and public health crises. They are facing enormous challenges to provide personable and impactful care to serve their community at the time when they are required to maintain social and physical distance. We hope that wherever they choose to serve, they will be supported not only by their immediate supervisors and mentors but also by the community of people who share the same core principles of our Infinite Paths to Peace.

For more information on the 2020-2021 Shinnyo Fellows, please read on and find their short bios and photos.


Sydney Cheung

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Sydney Cheung is a recent graduate from Chapman University with a major in Environmental Science and Policy and a minor in Political Science. In the past few years, she has explored the intersections of environmental and social issues, which led her to become an environmental justice advocate. Through travel opportunities with Chapman, she gained hands-on experiences through lobbying for a carbon fee and dividend policy in Washington, D.C. and developing a sustainable urban planning guide for an engineering firm in London. On campus, she worked at Chapman’s Office of Sustainability to engage the student body with environmentalism through events such as the Hunger Banquet which focused on local and global food security. Sydney has also interrogated public health disparities within marginalized communities of color, such as South Los Angeles, through her research at Chapman. As a Shinnyo Fellow, she plans to work with communities to examine systemic root causes of food insecurity. Sydney seeks to connect environmentalism with food insecurity to address the ongoing climate crisis.


Dora Najera

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Dora Najera graduated cum laude from George Mason University in May. She earned a B.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution with a concentration in collaborative leadership where her studies focused on how organizations and communities balance power, make decisions, and handle the ethical dilemmas involved. Dora studied abroad at the University of Oxford focusing on history, politics, and society and interned for the Dialogue and Difference project where she worked with a team to plan, host, and facilitate events dealing with important topics such as human rights and environmentalism. While an undergrad, Dora also completed training to become a certified mediator in Virginia. She is excited to be the Mason 2020 Shinnyo Fellow and hopes to use the fellowship to partner with a nonprofit or an organization that educates and empowers immigrants. One day, Dora hopes to be an international event planner for nonprofits and organizations that promote peace and cultural diversity, because when people meet, they can change the world.


Carlo Sanchez

(Post-undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow) 

Carlo recently graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology, focusing on analyzing and bringing light to Filipinx-American history. Carlo has served four years on Seattle University’s Vietnamese Student Association officer board where he has learned to love and share the Vietnamese culture. These student organization experiences led him to finding a cultural environment garnered and created by fellow students. His particular experience centered introducing a deeper exploration of social justice into the club and empowering students through their histories and identities. Moreover, he learned to foster his passion for Filipinx culture through studying an array of Filipinx literature and academia. He contributed to a research project as an intern with Seattle’s Filipino-American National Historical Society (FANHS), where he shared the same energizing passion of cultural exploration with folks within the organization. As the largest database of Filipinx-American history in the United States, he was able to deepen his relationship with the subject. Through this examination, he is able to complexify the identities of Filipinx peoples in relation to their history of colonization, global politics, and interpersonal relationships. Beyond the academic value of these studies, Carlo most values the shifting perspectives and ever-deepening exploration of his cultural and emotional self through this. He finds that history is formative to understanding ourselves and contributes to how we can develop loving and empowering communities. Carlo seeks to continue his pursuit for community-development within the Filipinx-American community in Seattle and, hopefully, return these learnings back to his home community in San Jose, California.


Beza Betty

(Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Beza is a rising senior at Seattle University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Originally from Rwanda, Beza moved to Washington for college, and when out of school, she is usually enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Throughout her time at SU, she has served as a Collegia mentor to new transfer and commuter students, creating community programs that help improve their involvement and sense of belonging on campus. Beza has also served on the African Student Association board for two years which is where she focused most of her community work like creating student empowerment programs for immigrant elementary kids in the African diaspora community. Beza’s interest lies in health care and serving the minority populations who face tremendous difficulties in accessing healthcare in this nation. It was during her Clinical and Community Health class where she gained more insights on community health and the disparities that affect the healthcare outcomes of the minority communities in the Seattle area. This experience inspired her to join the Shinnyo Fellowship. As a Shinnyo Fellow, Beza hopes to work with a non-profit healthcare organization that serves the minority communities and does work around advocacy and reducing healthcare disparities that affect those communities, preferably immigrant communities.

The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at STANFORD

UNIVERSITY and Redwood City 2020

Michael Andrew Solorio

Post-undergraduate Community Impact/Shinnyo Fellow

Michael Solorio is a recent graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Materials Science & Engineering. He is very passionate to empower local community members and provide opportunities for underserved populations. He worked as a Safety Coordinator to provide countermeasures against ICE for El/La Para TransLatinas, a transgender Latinx community center in San Francisco. He has also worked for Mujeres Migrantes en Progreso to lead a seminar series about healthy living and community resources for immigrant women in Santa Ana, California. Born from a Mexican-American father and a Chinese-American mother, his life is dedicated to building bridges across groups of different ethnicities, languages, incomes, and lifestyles. He is very excited to serve the people of Redwood City as a Shinnyo Community Impact Fellow.



Kelley Sheahan

(Post-Undergraduate Berkeley 2020 Vision/Shinnyo Fellow)

Kelley Sheahan graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020 with a major in Business Administration and a Certificate in Design Innovation. During her time at Cal, she served as a student leader in a number of different capacities. She volunteered as an orientation leader, helping to welcome incoming students through an intensive week-long orientation. She also served as a Resident Assistant, overseeing the wellbeing of a diverse set of residents, and a Starting Point mentor, guiding prospective Cal students on the transfer process. As a transfer student herself, Kelley is passionate about helping other students find higher education opportunities.