Social Sector Franchise Initiative Student Research Fellows

Imag eof Student Fellow working in fieldStudent Research Fellows play a key role in the Social Sector Franchise Initiative. We offer opportunities for students from across UNH colleges and disciplines including business and economics, health and human services, liberal arts, engineering, and agriculture to participate in a range of activities. Fellows participate in our annual Social Sector Franchise Innovations Roundtable, conduct field research/service with individual social franchises, and serve as researchers on the development of publishable case studies. 

SSFI Student Research Fellows travel during J-Term (January) to visit the social franchise enterprises of our SSFA protégés in their host countries. Their research work includes interviews of company staff, customers and franchisees.  SSFI Student Research Fellows have the opportunity to take part in groundbreaking research and help develop a published case study, which will be distributed to practitioners in the field. Student involvement in this process may also result in access to professionals from a number of fields/sectors, including commercial franchises, social entrepreneurship/social sector franchise leaders, non-governmental organizations, investors, donors, and government officials. This type of exposure and networking is essentially priceless and can be hugely formative for a student's post-academic career.

 “The opportunities I’ve been granted through CSIE’s Social Sector Franchise Initiative are, quite frankly, nearly unbelievable. From attending the SSFI Roundtable—and being able to witness some of the world’s greatest minds collaborate and brainstorm practical solutions for growing social franchises; to my Research Fellowship—which took me on an amazing trip halfway around the world to Rwanda in January, and has given me the opportunity to potentially co-author a published case study. My involvement with SSFI has opened up not only my eyes to parts of the world I’d never dreamed of seeing, but also my personal and professional opportunities, from the experiences I’ve gained and the contacts I’ve made along the way.”  
–Ilona Drew, 2017 SSFI Student Reasearch Fellow, UNH Grad School, Master’s in Public Policy

2017-2018 Student Research Fellows

Image of Ana
Ana Alejandro
 earned her B.A. in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and is currently a Master of Social Work student at UNH.  As a veteran of the United States Navy and a native of Uruguay, she holds a wealth of cultural experience. She eagerly explores opportunities for which she can improve culture through perspective and vice versa. She is very excited and grateful for the extraordinary opportunity as a student research fellow where she can strengthen her research skills, gain wisdom and perspective, and ultimately help influence positive social change. 


Image of ChelseaChelsea Evankow is a senior dual Biology and Women’s Studies major with a minor in Africana and African Studies. Chelsea received two Awards of Excellence at UNH’s Undergraduate Research Symposium and the UNH Women’s Studies Research Award on “Prevention of Hostile Language” and “African American Women in Higher Education: Exploring the Challenges and Experiences at UNH.” Chelsea interned at the Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, an organization that empowers youth for a better future, and is currently a Teaching Assistant for the course “Leadership for Social Change.” In her free time, Chelsea works diligently as the philanthropy chair for Make-A-Wish and as the President of UNH’s Women’s Club Lacrosse Team. She plans to apply to The Peace Corps and to a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a Master of Public Health dual program. She is excited to experience skills obtained through this research fellowship which will be directly transferable to her career in global health care and passion of human rights and sustainability. 

Image of GinaGina Occhipinti is a senior at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. She is graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in French. A two-time alumni of the UNH Social Innovation Internship, she is interested in using market-based strategies to solve social and environmental problems. She is heavily involved in the UNH chapter of Net Impact, a student organization focused on using careers as a force for good. After being inspired by a class on microfinance, she pursued a research project on it this past summer 2017 in the Philippines. From her experience in UNH’s Entrepreneurship Club and her growing interest in technology, she’ll be working with the social franchise Apps and Girls this year, where their mission is to provide excellent coding training to girls in Tanzania while mentoring their digital projects. After graduation, Gina hopes to pursue a career in economic policy analysis or in the growing field of data science. 

Image of YusiYusi Wang Turell is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of New Hampshire.  In partnership with Ashoka, her dissertation explores how social entrepreneurs affect public policies that, in turn, help their market-based social innovations to reach scale.  Previously, she served as founding co-director of UNH’s Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, a joint venture between the Carsey School of Public Policy and the Paul College of Business and Economics. Prior to joining UNH in 2011, Yusi led new initiatives at Citizen Schools, a national network of volunteer-led apprenticeship programs for low-income middle school students. Previously, Yusi worked as a strategy consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young’s Center for Business Innovation. She holds a B.S.E. in civil engineering from Princeton University and an M.Phil. in technology and innovation management from the University of Sussex through a British Marshall Scholarship. 

Image of RachelRachel Vaz is a Brazilian-American senior undergraduate student, majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business and Economics, and a minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies. She is passionate about social innovation especially in the area of social justice. Rachel has worked for three years with The Freedom Café of Durham, a local non-profit with the mission of creating a world free of human trafficking. Through that organization, she helped coordinate community events to raise awareness of human trafficking, including the United Nations' GIFT Box project hosted both in Durham and Portsmouth, NH. Rachel has also worked as a student fellow for the Center for Social Innovation and enterprise since the summer of 2016. In the summer of 2017, Rachel focused her enthusiasm for fighting injustice through her Social Innovation Internship with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund (NHCLF)/ROC NH. NHCLF/ROC NH works to create stable homes and resilient communities by equalizing access to opportunities and resources.

 2016-2017 Student Research Fellows

Image of AbrahamAbraham DeMaio
Abraham DeMaio, of New Durham, NH is 20 years old and is pursuing a dual degree in civil engineering and international affairs. Abraham served as project lead in the Engineers Without Borders UNH chapter water project in Uganda Project, sponsored by Child Voice International. Abraham was part of a three-student team who worked with a professional mentor to design and build a spring box for the village of Cet-kana.  

Abraham attended the Social Sector Franchise Innovations Roundtable in September and was very interested in having a chance to learn about Ziweto’s organizational structure and its current expansion opportunities. Abraham says, “The experience and skills obtained from this research report will be transferrable in future projects in my academic and professional career. I also like the social franchising concept as it uses a realistic and sustainable approach to address vital problems in the developing world. I became an International Affairs major so I could help people by doing work in the developing world.” 

Image of IlonaIlona Drew
Ilona Drew is a student in the Masters of Public Policy program at UNH, with a dual concentration in Analysis, and Strategy & Communication. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Paul College with a B.S. in Business Management. Ilona has worked with the Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise in many capacities, competing in the Social Venture Innovation Challenge in Fall 2014, winning a Judge's Special Prize in the Community Track; as a 2017 Social Innovation Intern; and as both a Graduate Research Fellow and a Living Case Study Accelerator Student Research Fellow for the Social Sector Franchise Initiative during the 2016-2017 Academic Year. During this fellowship Ilona traveled to Rwanda to conduct case study research for Jibu, a retail clean water company that works in several Africa countries through a network of franchisees and was a protégé in the Living Case Study Accelerator.

She is now proud to continue this work as the SSFI Program Assistant for the 2017-2018 Academic Year, helping to coordinate the SSFI Accelerator and facilitate research for this year’s Living Case Studies of social enterprises employing the franchising methodology to scale their operations. After graduation in December 2017, Ilona plans to put her knowledge and her passion for social justice to work at the nexus of business and public policy, to help social ventures improve their efficiency and effectiveness.