Are you looking to give back to your community after graduating? Do you want to be paid full-time while implementing your unique program at a community organization of your choice? If so, the Shinnyo fellowship is for you! The Shinnyo fellowship is a prestigious 10-month fellowship that allows post-undergraduate Chapman University students to immerse themselves in a community organization to implement the Shinnyo-en Foundation’s philosophy of peacebuilding through service. As the current Shinnyo fellow, Rabia Asif ’22 serves as Chapman University’s representative while working with Higher Ground Youth and Family Services, an after-school program for some of the most underserved and “at-risk” youth in Anaheim, California.

Shinnyo fellow, Rabia Asif ’22

Asif recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences and a minor in Spanish. As a pre-medical student at Chapman University, Asif grew an interest in exploring the connection between socioeconomic status and future health outcomes through her undergraduate courses. Through her volunteer work at Lestonnac Free Clinic, and tutoring for School on Wheels, along with her research findings for the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, she further understood the importance of prevention and education in improving life outcomes. This new passion for spreading educational resources and working with youth inspired Asif to apply for the Shinnyo fellowship in collaboration with Higher Ground. “When I learned about the Shinnyo fellowship, I knew it would be a perfect fit for me. I love working with kids and having the freedom to implement my own program at a nonprofit organization that aimed to prevent poor life outcomes early on really drew me in.”

Asif tutoring students at Higher Ground

Higher Ground Youth and Family Services is an after-school program in downtown Anaheim for youth from grades 2-12. When working with the youth at Higher Ground, Asif noticed that there was a significant literacy issue. “The literacy rate of the elementary school next door was 18% and I could see this in our students.” says Asif. As a result, she implemented a Literacy Program at Higher Ground, which aims to provide tutoring to students significantly below reading level. To Asif, having the chance to create a program from scratch in a welcoming community is a rare opportunity that she feels very grateful for.

In addition to creating a literacy program at Higher Ground, Asif is the program coordinator for Higher Ground’s Human Trafficking Prevention Program, where she leads a team of college students to junior high and high schools in the Anaheim school district. There, she presents a curriculum on human trafficking so that students can understand the issue and ultimately reduce their risk of becoming human trafficking victims in an area prevalent for crime.

Asif and team presenting at a local junior high school about human trafficking prevention

“At first, I came into the fellowship wanting to implement a program that was health and medicine related, but I ended up learning so much more about what this community really needed and had the opportunity to diverge from my pre-med bubble and really adapt myself to the needs of the youth surrounding me.” The skills, opportunities, and connections that Asif has made throughout her fellowship will be beneficial to her future as a healthcare worker. “The communication, presentation, and leadership skills that I learned from this experience, along with understanding first-hand how one’s social environment impacts health behaviors and outcomes are integral to becoming a physician.”  Asif highly recommends the Shinnyo fellowship to Chapman University seniors of any discipline. “Apply for this fellowship if you are interested in service! The opportunities and connections offered are so unique and I highly recommend it for anyone planning to take a gap year!”

This is your chance to apply to be a Shinnyo Fellow to work with a community organization of your choice and The Center for Undergraduate Excellence to implement peacebuilding ideas. The Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellowship Program provides funding for ten months, beginning with the annual Shinnyo-en retreat at the end of July 2023 and concluding in May 2024. Compensation is $37,000 with medical, dental, and vision benefits. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree (only candidates with anticipated graduation dates of December 2022 or May 2023 are eligible to apply). This is a wonderful opportunity for people of all backgrounds and disciplines who have a passion for giving back to the community through meaningful service. The application is due by Friday, April 14 at 4 pm. For more information and application, click here or email You can also schedule a meeting with Rabia to learn more on March 29 and April 5th. Drop-In hours will be from 10AM – 12PM at the CUE House (415 E. Walnut Ave) or schedule a virtual appointment from 12PM – 5PM here.