V Former (junior) Kieran Dias-Lalcaca is one of 20 students in the Philadelphia metro area selected as a 2019 Germination Project Fellow. The Germination Project was founded in 2015 by the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation, which aims to re-establish Philadelphia as a global force in policy, commerce, and culture. The Haverford School is one of several partner schools selected by The Germination Project to nominate young leaders who are poised to make an enduring mark on our city. Thirteen Haverford School students have been accepted as Fellows since the program’s inception.
“I was inspired to be part of a program that combines scholarship and real-world application,” said Dias-Lalcaca. “The Germination Project takes everyone’s unique talents and perspectives and puts them together to create a positive outcome that will impact the community.”
Following a rigorous application and interview process, accepted Fellows are immersed in a two-week summer bootcamp to expose them to Philadelphia leaders, change agents, and think tanks. From there, they engage in service projects alongside their class of fellows to address some of the city’s most critical needs.
I learned that there isn’t one solution – progress requires having more communication and more involvement with the people who are being displaced by this and then coming up with ideas.
During the summer bootcamp, Fellows tackled topics including education, corruption, gentrification, and immigration. Dias-Lalcaca’s group discussed gentrification in West Philadelphia and presented an investigative story. “I learned that there isn’t one solution – progress requires having more communication and more involvement with the people who are being displaced by this and then coming up with ideas.”
Ajay Raju’s words during bootcamp have stuck with the Fellows. “He said that The Germination Project is ‘crop agnostic, farmer devout’ – they care about developing kids into leaders to be able to think on a big scale, to break down problems, to see through the mess of a real world situation and put together a plan. He reminded us that The Germination Project is a kitchen – we have all the tools and ingredients we need, and it’s our choice to figure out what to make.”
You are shaped as a leader and an independent thinker beginning in Lower School, where you also start to learn about the Walk of Virtues and the School's moral make-up. If you want to make big decisions, it’s important to understand who you are and whether you can embody honesty, respect, and courage.
Dias-Lalcaca is still thinking about what community issue he’ll pursue, but he is passionate about climate change, criminal justice reform, and campaign finance reform. He believes that his Haverford education, coupled with the connections he’s making to corporate, civic, and nonprofit leaders in Philadelphia through The Germination Project, have prepared him to make a difference.
“You are shaped as a leader and an independent thinker beginning in Lower School, where you also start to learn about the Walk of Virtues and the School's moral make-up,” he said. “If you want to make big decisions, it’s important to understand who you are and whether you can embody honesty, respect, and courage.”
Kieran Dias-Lalcaca is in Form V at The Haverford School, which he has attended since pre-kindergarten. He is involved in Model UN and Economics Club and is co-president of the Astronomy Club.
Photo Credit: Sam Catania, 2018 Germination Fellow