International and Environmental Influencers

Maggie Andresen, KLN ’17
Amplifying the marginalized

At age 24, photojournalist Maggie Andresen already commands impressive credentials, published by both CNN and ABC World News, while also serving as a Princeton in Africa Fellow and winning an international award from the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But the common thread in Andresen’s work is documenting the lives and realities of those who have been marginalized, whether that be individuals born with albinism in Rwanda, child refugees in the Middle East, or transgender people working to beat drug addiction in West Philadelphia.

“I’m lucky that I get to step out of my circumstances and enter, if only briefly, the lives of other people.” 

Sandra Adele, CST ’15
Path paver

Doctor or lawyer. While growing up in Nigeria, Sandra Adele was taught that she could become one or the other. “A career in science was not presented to me as an option,” she says.

Fast forward, and Adele is now using her undergraduate degree in neuroscience and master’s in pharmacology from the University of Oxford to explore healthcare solutions in developing countries. 

She credits Temple and the female mentors she met there for her ability to excel in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) discipline. In an effort to give back, Adele started a nonprofit—The STEMGirls at

“If I can encourage other young women to enter a science field, I feel I have contributed in some way.”

Through the website, girls in Africa are paired with STEM researchers from all over the world, learning firsthand from them and their experiences.

Brett Riley, ENG ’18
Green engineer

My biggest accomplishment at Temple was … my senior project: helping design a sustainable high tunnel (essentially an unheated greenhouse) for a local urban farm. Going into the project, my team wanted to actually build something as opposed to just creating a design—that’s why we got into engineering. We installed a rainwater catchment system to decrease the dependency on municipal water, and added a solar powered system to provide a source of power to the farm. 

My job now is … working with a startup, Airgreen, Inc., in New Castle, Delaware. We design and build commercial-sized liquid dessicant air conditioners that use about half the energy of conventional systems. I can give and do more working from the ground up with a startup versus joining an established company.

My strongest suit so far is … with energy, whether that’s with efficiency or power generation or even solar power. As the Earth’s population keeps growing and technology keeps advancing, our energy consumption will keep increasing, and we must keep up with that. 

Sierra Gladfelter, CLA ’12
Solution seeker

In the Himilayas I saw ... how climate change is affecting daily life in rural villages—in terms of both flooding and water scarcity, due to erratic precipitation and decreasing snowpack. And how the region’s poor economy limits its ability to adapt.

It’s inspiring to see ... in all the work I’ve done in Nepal and in India how some small-scale interventions to help people cope with climate change are really having tangible impacts on people’s lives.

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s coal country ... I observed water sources severely impacted by industry, particularly in economically disadvantaged regions. My experiences have grounded me in the realities that a lot of people live with. Whether they are a coal miner in Pennsylvania, or a farmer in Nepal, those who are 3rd or 4th generation in these roles often don’t have a lot of options.

Right now ... I am working for the University of Virginia’s Institute for Engagement and Negotiation, supporting Virginia’s coastal communities in adapting to sea level rise and other storm hazards. Many of the challenges I’ve witnessed around the world play out in neighborhoods and towns facing climate change here in the U.S.

Thanks to Temple ... I was fundamentally moved by what I saw during my travels. I owe a lot to Temple and my faculty mentors for helping me secure the fellowships that gave me that global perspective.

Eli LaBan, KLN ’17
Raising the volume

Whether in Nicaragua, Philadelphia or South Africa, award-winning videographer Eli LaBan thrives on finding the commonalities between people. 

Currently a Princeton in Africa Fellow, LaBan is working for Gardens for Health International outside of Kigali, Rwanda. He creates multimedia content to support the nonprofit organization’s mission of training rural farming families to grow and eat their own nutritious foods.

“About 85% of the population are subsistence farmers but many children are malnourished due to a lack of education on nutrition and a lack of access to a variety of nutritious foods,” he says. “My role is to spread the word about the organization and the families it serves.”

LaBan discovered his love of on-the-ground reporting as a student in Temple’s Study Away in South Africa program, where he made a documentary about young musicians. He later won an Emmy for his work on NBC10’s Generation Addicted web series that investigated Philadelphia’s heroin epidemic. And he went on to win a National College Emmy for a project that recorded the cultural artifacts of an endangered indigenous community in Nicaragua.

“I’m really trying to find a way to collaborate and give people a platform to tell their own stories.” 

Return to Table of Contents