Margarita Valdez, a student at Bergen Community College, has been named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. She is one of only 162 students from 32 states given this prestigious award that recognizes inspiring college student leaders who have worked to find solutions for challenges facing their communities.
Margarita received the award because she demonstrates the type of civic engagement that sets an example for others, shining a positive light in a time when negativity has dominated much national conversation. A second year student at BCC, Margarita chairs the Volunteer Committee on campus and re-started the Community Services Club. She serves in the Learn to End Hunger Initiative by planning, leading and recruiting students for fundraising and food drives for the food pantry on campus.
Christine Matthews, BCC’s Service Learning Coordinator, is very proud of the work that Margarita and other students do through Service Learning courses, club activities and other opportunities that foster community engagement. “Colleges are developing students’ public problem-solving skills, such as the ability to analyze community needs, the willingness to participate in public processes and debate, the commitment to raise awareness about challenges, and the ability to inspire others to become part of solutions” according to Ms. Matthews. “Honors such as the Newman Civic Fellows help to highlight these important activities.
The only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact promotes public and community service that develops students’ citizenship skills, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships, and provides resources and training for faculty seeking to integrate civic and community-based learning into the curriculum.
Campus Compact’s member college and university presidents from across the country nominated the college student leaders for the 2012 class of Newman Civic Fellows. Each was nominated because they are demonstrating a personal commitment to creating lasting change for the better in their communities. Through service, community-based research, and advocacy, the 2012 class of Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves and the root causes of some of the most pressing social issues that challenge us all. “These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world,” notes Campus Compact Board Chair James B. Dworkin, chancellor at Purdue University North Central.