Jessica Gonzalez, a James Madison College senior majoring in social relations and policy, was one of only 268 students from across the nation selected to join Campus Compact's 2018 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows.
The Newman Civic Fellowship honors students who have demonstrated profound commitments to finding solutions to issues facing communities throughout the country. For Gonzalez, a Mission, Texas-native, the issue she feels most passionate about is one that hits close to home: opportunities for Latinx students in higher education.
"Jessica's passion to serve others is deeply embedded due to her experiences growing up in south Texas," said Michigan State Univeristy Interim President John Engler. "Her leadership efforts have helped maximize the opportunities to enhance first generation students' success during college transitions and have strived to build an inclusive environment for multicultural democracy on campus - all the while upholding representation for Latinx students."
While at MSU, Gonzalez has devoted her time to working with first-generation students, has served as both an intercultural and teacher's aide, and worked at MSU's Honors College to encourage students to pursue and remain in higher education.
"I've found it very helpful to give back," Gonzlez said. "It's a little bit of me showing others back home they can do it too."
Gonzalez is devoted to promoting equity in the education system at all levels, and hopes to influence the educational system through policy to improve outcomes for all children.
"It's a way for me to encourage others and educate them about college and the pursuit of education as a whole," she said. "Empowering others through outreach and civic engagement helps them realize they're capable of anything they put their minds to."
The Newman Fellowship provides its honorees with experiences to emphasizie personal, professional and civic growth, including access to apply for exclusive scholarships and post-graduate opportunities.
Andrew Seligsohn, president of Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, said the organization is thrilled to be able to work and engage with such an extraordinary group of students.
"The stories of this year's Newman Civic Fellows make clear that they are bringing people together in their communities to solve pressing problems," said Seligsohn. "That is what Campus Compact is about, and it's what our country and our world desperately need."
The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman's Own Foundation, named after Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, which Gonzales is slated to attend later this year.
For more information about the Newman Civic Fellowship, visit Campus Compact's information page.