Sanya Dhama ’24 has been awarded $10,000 by Projects for Peace to create an educational task force and develop a curriculum to improve public health decision-making for students in Inland Empire school districts.
Dhama’s project, “Youth Health Education to Empower and Protect,” will bring together health professionals, epidemiologists, pedagogists, and stakeholders including teachers and students. They plan to create a field-tested curriculum that provides students with public health information that is nonpartisan and science-based with the goal of bringing people and communities together.
“It is my deep belief in youth’s potential to better the world that inspires me and drives me to work to better our education,” said Dhama.
The Projects for Peace program invites undergraduates from more than 90 U.S. colleges and universities that participate in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that promote peace.
The Projects for Peace program evolved from the vision of philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, who challenged tomorrow’s promising leaders to find ways to “prepare for peace.”
This is not the first time that Dhama has worked on school curricula. A human biology (cross-cultural health and healing) major who is minoring in data science, she was involved as a high school senior in the effort to advocate for AB 101, a state bill that added a one-semester course in ethnic studies to graduation requirements for public high school students (starting with the class that will graduate in 2029–30).
That work was completed while she served as Region 11 president of the State Council of the California Association of Student Councils, a youth-led civic engagement and leadership organization started by the California State Board of Education.
At that time, Dhama worked with former Assemblymember Jose Medina, who represented Riverside, to garner support for AB 101, which was passed in 2021 and made California the first state to require ethnic studies in high school.
Through her Projects for Peace award, Dhama plans to address another aspect of education, public health, that turned into a hotly contested area of debate during the Covid-19 quarantine.
“It is my deep belief,” Dhama said, “that education has the power to cultivate and empower this generation of informed citizens and leaders, all connected by a fundamental understanding of how we can protect one another and grow together—whether it be through understanding and appreciating our histories or through understanding oneself as an integral determinant of our health, the health of our community, and beyond.”