Milton (PhD ’69) and Rosalind Chang made a gift to Caltech in 2018 to create the Milton and Rosalind Chang Career Exploration Prize. The annual prize enables alumni who have graduated in the last 10 years to explore new careers outside academia.
Prize funding—up to $65,000—gives winners the freedom to develop leadership skills and pursue projects that will have positive impacts on society. In October, Caltech announced the 2019 winners of the Chang Prize:
(BS ’18, computer science)
Periyakoil, who spent time as an associate software engineer at Salesforce in San Francisco, is today an MD/PhD student in the Tri-Institutional Program at Weill Cornell Medicine. But it was her time as a volunteer crisis counselor for the San Francisco Suicide Prevention hotline that sparked an idea for a texting platform that could help reduce campus suicides and suicide attempts. Periyakoil will use Chang Prize funds to explore a platform at Caltech and the University of California, Berkeley, to provide round-the-clock crisis support.
“College students are vulnerable to stresses that come from academic pressures, new living conditions, and interpersonal relationships,” Periyakoil says. “I propose to create a student support text line prototype that will enable college students to receive peer support and counseling in a safe, supportive, and secure online platform.”
(PhD ’13, biology)
A neuroscientist, author, speaker, and meditation teacher, Tetreault aims to combine her diverse skills to help rehabilitate women who have been incarcerated. She will use funding from the Chang Prize to develop a program called “Beyond the Cell” to assist people in prison who have experienced mental, physical, or emotional trauma.
“This opportunity provides imaginative freedom to create ‘Beyond the Cell,’” says Tetreault, who describes the work as “a transformative program to rehabilitate incarcerated women through teaching guided meditation, neuroscience, literature, and expressive writing to cultivate positive neural, mental, and behavioral patterns for healing.”