The AFLSE Scholarship for 2020-2021, covering tuition costs for a year of graduate study at LSE, has been awarded to Taitum Caggiano.
In 2018, Taitum Caggiano graduated with Highest Distinction from Indiana University (IU), where she was a Provost's, Founder's, and Hutton Honors scholar, with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics, minors in French and Psychology, and a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). While studying at IU, Taitum served as President and Vice President of the Undergraduate Linguistics Club and interned with the LinguistList on projects studying generational changes in Polish and Ukrainian. Due to her academic achievements at IU, she was inducted into the renowned academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa and the French honor society Pi Delta Phi. In addition to her studies, Taitum volunteered with several organizations, including Bloomington's Interfaith Winter Shelter, Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners (VITAL), Bloomington Community Orchard, and Bloomington based food pantry and community garden Mother Hubbard's Cupboard among other volunteer endeavors.
In keeping with her passion for community and global service, Taitum served with the Peace Corps as an English Language Instructor partnered with the Ministry of Secondary Education in Badékparou, Benin, West Africa from June 2018 to March 2020 until she was evacuated due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In this capacity, Taitum worked as an English teacher and led various youth development projects in her community relating to gender equity, education, handwashing, and malaria prevention. Her most impactful youth empowerment activities include coordinating Northern Benin's Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), leading weekly Girls' and English clubs, running a local youth camp, directing the Borgou Regional Spelling Bee, and completing a reusable menstrual pad project with her students. In addition to her work in the community of Badékparou and the region, Taitum also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer Resource (PCVR) for the 2019 cohort of Peace Corps Benin volunteers and as the Northern Student Professional Development Director on Peace Corps Benin's Gender Equity Committee.
Through her work in Benin, Taitum found a passion for gender equity and girls’ education. Inspired by this passion, she has kindled a desire to increase her knowledge on sustainable ways to promote gender equity, improve girls’ and women’s access to education and equal rights, and educate boys and men how to be allies to women. To this end, Taitum is pursuing a Master's of Science in Gender, Peace, and Security from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). After her studies, Taitum aims to work internationally for gender equity. She plans to use her skills and experience as a competent advocate for women's rights in conflict and post-conflict regions as well as refugee communities.
Incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude for the AFLSE community, Taitum is honored to be awarded the 2020-21 AFLSE Scholarship. Taitum would like to thank the AFLSE for their generous contribution to her studies and express her appreciation for the professors, friends, neighbors, and colleagues around the world who have encouraged and supported her in the pursuit of her goals.