Cultural Vistas Names 2022 Alumni Award Recipients

Cultural Vistas is pleased to announce Stella Jemna and Kaylon Paterson as its 2022 Alumni Award recipients.

Stella Jemna, a 2017 alumna of the Edmund S. Muskie Professional Fellowship Program, has been named recipient of the Cultural Vistas Distinguished Alumni Leadership award which celebrates alumni who have attained distinction in their chosen field while fostering international understanding and collaboration in their communities and organizations. It is the highest honor bestowed upon Cultural Vistas alumni.

During her Muskie Fellowship with Cultural Vistas, Stella worked with the American-Turkish Friendship Council while finishing her Fulbright graduate studies at Georgia State University. She currently serves as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Moldova, Natalia Gavrilita, working to bring peace, support, and aid to Moldova and neighboring Ukraine, both impacted by the Russian invasion.

“What I understood and experienced in the U.S. was a different perspective on diversity. Studying in the U.S. showed me how collaboration between people from different backgrounds, diverse communities, and different races and genders can create strategies that are, honestly, better balanced…”

— Stella Jemna, Cultural Vistas 2022 Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award Recipient

Earlier this year, Stella and her team supported the Prime Minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos where they showcased solidarity and support of Ukraine while promoting the equitable advancement of democratic values. She was then selected as a fellow to the 2022 Aspen Ideas Festival organized by Aspen Institute where leaders came together from around the world to discuss challenges and share solutions-oriented ideas.

Stella is a tireless advocate for women, working diligently to increase women’s participation in Moldovan civil society. She previously managed the “Women with Ideas” program at the National Democratic Institute where her efforts led to more female representation in political decision-making. Stella holds the United Nations Award for contribution and promotion of human rights and a UNICEF Award for promoting children’s rights from her previous journalistic endeavors.

Kaylon Paterson, a two-time Cultural Vistas alumnus, will receive the organization’s annual Alumni Impact award, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to the global alumni community and demonstrates the value of international exchange beyond the scope of the program.

Kaylon participated in the STEM LAUNCH study tour to Germany in 2016 and, following the completion of his undergraduate degree at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Kaylon received the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals scholarship.

These exchange experiences paved the path for Kaylon to study aerospace engineering and pursue a Master’s in Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Currently, he is finishing an Executive Master’s in Global Management for Space Leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Since the completion of his exchange programs, Kaylon has mentored fellow HBCU students from Morehouse and beyond, encouraging them to apply to Cultural Vistas programs and guiding them through their experience. In addition, he has also dedicated efforts to connecting other CBYX participants with post-program job opportunities and career resources.

“I implore anyone seeking change, chance, and exploration to take the challenge and travel with any of the Cultural Vistas’ programs. You will not be disappointed.” 

— Kaylon Paterson, Cultural Vistas 2022 Alumni Impact Award Recipient

Kaylon recently completed the John. S. McCain Fellowship at the Department of Defense and is an engineer with the Space Force. In addition to advocating for environmental sustainability through his company, Paterson Aerospace Systems, Kaylon also serves as a board member and Chief Science Officer of the Caribbean Space Society, where he advocates for inclusion of Caribbean nations in the industry.

“At Cultural Vistas we know that international exchange is essential for bringing the world together by creating a shared understanding and appreciation of diverse peoples, values, cultures, and aspirations. These cross-cultural experiences nurture leaders, activists, and change agents at a global level — that’s the transformative power of exchange.” — Emily Commer, Director of Alumni Engagement

The Cultural Vistas’ annual Alumni Awards presentation will take place on December 8, 2022 at Harold Pratt House in New York City, following a moderated discussion with leading policy expert and New York Times bestselling author, Fiona Hill. A limited number of event tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available here.

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