Penn State Brandywine junior Zanya Stephenson, of Darby, was named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a coalition of college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. Stephenson, a Cooper Honors scholar at the Brandywine campus, is one of only 162 college student leaders in the 2012 class of Newman Civic Fellows.
These students are demonstrating a personal commitment to creating lasting change for the better in their communities. Through service, community-based research and advocacy, the 2012 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.
Stephenson, a resident of Darby, 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. She has a history of taking action to improve the community. She was the first student to work with the campus' newly established Laboratory for Civic Engagement, where she manages a podcast and interviews students. Stephenson also captained a hunger relief benefit on campus. At an after school program in North Philadelphia, she has introduced regular volunteer activities for the participants. For class, she recently designed a new education model, based on practices from her homeland of Jamaica and from the United States, to strengthen student learning and assist students with preparation for twenty-first century careers.
As a Newman Civic Fellow, Stephenson joins a network of Fellows around the country. Together—sharing ideas and tools through online networking—the Fellows will leverage an even greater capacity for service and change, and will continue to set examples for their classmates and others.
"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," noted Campus Compact Board Chair James B. Dworkin, chancellor at Purdue University North Central.
Through service-learning courses and other opportunities for 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.
"Dr. Frank Newman, a founder of Campus Compact, had a tremendous impact on American education and its role in the development of citizens who are eager and prepared to make a difference," explained Campus Compact President Maureen Curley. "He dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform and this new group of Newman Civic Fellows would have inspired him. They are reflections and affirmations of his life's work."
For more information about the organization and the award, visit www.compact.org.