2020 Kentucky Newman Civic Fellows
Majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Spending the first eight years of my life in India, where the streets of even the best neighborhoods house some of the poorest people of the country, I formed an understanding of disadvantage, without the means to act on it. When my father’s work took me back there in my sophomore year of high school, I was in a position to contribute. Together with my younger brother, we established bi-weekly classes for the homeless children around our communities whose parents could not afford to have them go to school. Recruiting friends, we established an environment the children felt eager to return to. This deepened my understanding of the fact that there existed no correlation between their impoverished disposition and their desire to learn. Returning to America, I sought to incorporate my want to serve with my desire to become a doctor. I spent much of the rest of my high school life coordinating blood drives and co-organizing and assisting food kitchens and health safety workshops. On-campus now, I head the Biology Club’s Service and Outreach programs, engaging our club members in service opportunities across the city that simultaneously enrich the community and help the students expand their purview.
Aditya is an honors student and leader on campus. His contributions on campus, in the community, and in the world are already cultivating positive change and inspiring others to make a difference. Adi’s commitment to humankind is what drives his purpose: his desire to be a doctor comes from his passion for service and helping others. Adi sees the intrinsic dignity in each individual and serves with the goal of allowing all of humanity to blossom.
Dr. Susan Donovan
President, Bellarmine University
I am undocumented, unapologetic, and unafraid. As someone who has encountered educational obstacles in the past due to my status and lack of knowledge of the English language, I believe it is important to serve as an advocate for students with similar backgrounds to ensure they are given the same educational opportunities. Sixteen years ago, my family and I moved from Mexico to the U.S. in hopes to build a better future for ourselves. At the time, I was too young to understand why my status was such a problem. I owe my accomplishments and my career path to my family, especially my mother. Her story is my motivation for the work I continue to do on campus. In my labor position with the Hispanic Outreach Program, I work towards providing resources for our local Hispanic/Latinx community. With our campus organization Fighting for Equal Education, I, along with others, work towards raising awareness for our undocumented community and their unequal access to higher education. Thanks to these organizations, I have found the courage to continue advocating for my community and myself.
Elvia Rojas, a junior at Berea College double-majoring in political science and Spanish, is a dynamic, motivated, and effective student leader and undergraduate scholar who uses her skills and knowledge to empower and engage those around her in proactive social change work. A Bonner Scholar, Elvia works in the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS) as a team member and future student program manager. Elvia has focused much of her academic, work-study, and extracurricular energy on a common theme: empowering Latinx students, young people, and families. She has thoughtfully combined learning and community engagement experiences, leadership roles, and the study of political science and the Spanish language to embody a commitment to learn about multiple strategies for educational access and to use education to raise awareness, build bridges of communication, and empower people.
I have a passion to advocate for those in foster care, many of which don’t have the platform that I have been given. Since the age of 2, I have been a part of this system and I know first-hand how it falls short of meeting the needs of the youth it serves. I can recall times where I found it difficult to live a normal “kid’s life” due to the lack of consistency – stable housing, family ties and friends.
Over the years I learned to embrace my struggle and use it a “fuel” to drive my advocacy work. My mission is to encourage and inspire other youth to see, no matter what trials and tribulations they go through, they can be successful. With my recent accomplishment of helping pass Kentucky’s House Bill 158, The Foster Youth Bill of Rights, I learned how using your voice to bring about awareness and change can impact generations – current and those to come.
Cameron Galloway, a student at Kentucky State University, has exhibited extraordinary community engagement in using his experience as a child of the Kentucky foster care system to better the lives of others. Last year, he worked closely with the then Governor Matt Bevin to created HB 158, ” The Foster Care Child Bill of Rights.” This Bill addresses the overdue protections children in foster care need as well as creates a pathway for children and youth in foster care to have access to stable homes, safe homes, and quality education.
During my freshman year at Kentucky Wesleyan I started the college’s first Feminist Club with one of my close friends. After deliberating over some underrepresented problems, we felt the women of Wesleyan, those equally dedicated students who are pursuing higher education, should have their voices heard. Reading about, writing about, and advocating for women has been my focus for the majority of my college career. I decided to pick up political science as a second major my sophomore year in order to understand how the world impacts marginalized humans. While attending an international relations course I realized women are still an underutilized resource in the political arena. At the end of my sophomore year I received the Powell Peace award which recognizes students who are pursuing the study of international peace and civic duty. I have recently become a member of the American Association of University Women’s Owensboro branch and hope to carry out more work as an officer for Wesleyan’s AAUW club. While continuing my studies in graduate school I want to influence young minority women and girls to pursue higher education by becoming a mentor and speaking to them through my writing.
Gloria Endicott is an outstanding student leader here at Kentucky Wesleyan College who is active in addressing issues for women on campus and beyond. Gloria started the Feminist Club as a way to make women’s voices heard. This has recently evolved into an association with the local branch of the American Association of University Women. Gloria is currently working to build the campus AAUW membership and programming.
I originally became interested in politics after taking a political course in high school. By learning how change within our society is championed through politics, I realized the importance of becoming involved. With the 2016 election occurring during this time, I had an influx of information at my disposal, which led me to research policy positions as well as candidates. I become very vocal and involved in my community and among my fellow students and found a passion for this field. I recognized the importance of voting and ensuring that your voice is heard through this constitutional right. This encouraged me to pursue positions such as Senator-At Large, President of the Junior class, and Vice President of the Young Democrats, along with being an election judge and serving with local elected officials. By serving within these positions for the past three years, I have worked to make a positive impact on my college campus and community. Ultimately, change within our society, change within our government, and change within our world begins through our engagement within our community and the political process. I believe everyone’s voice matters and should be heard.
Zane is a political science major, currently in his third year, with minors in criminal justice and women’s and gender studies. He has a passion for serving those who are seeking justice and fair treatment and plans to turn that passion into a career in law. Zane has served for the past three years at the County Attorney’s office as an intern with the Victim Advocacy department, connecting his classroom learning with a real-world application of helping those in need. He is passionate about civic and political engagement, and this passion has led him to become very active within our campus government. Through his various leadership roles in Student Government, Zane has worked to promote voter engagement, education, and participation through organizing voter rallies and fundraisers on campus, with plans to promote voting, small groups, and discussions in the future. Zane believes that systemic change comes about through the everyday work of building bipartisan relationships and understanding, educating voters, and helping others to engage personally in the work of democracy.
From an early age, I found gratification in educating and helping individuals lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally. My involvement in high school organizations focusing on mental health awareness, substance-free lifestyles, and leadership led me to develop a perspective of compassion and empathy towards individuals facing challenges. Through my continued education and involvement, I learned about the interconnected nature of substance abuse, mental illness, and societal factors such as age, race, socioeconomic status, and education that impact addiction. Driven by my desire to help others, I work with organizations on campus that promote awareness and enforcement of the tobacco-free policy. I collaborate with campus stakeholders, students, and community members to organize events and educational opportunities, providing information concerning the adverse health effects of nicotine. As a result, I help increase awareness and create a platform for students to discuss issues of public health concern within our community.
Kaitlyn Meyr is a second year student at the University of Kentucky and serves as President of the University’s newly-approved student organization, Tobacco-Free Take Action Health Advocates, whose mission is to engage students in efforts to improve access to treatment, strengthen tobacco policies, and mobilize a generation of advocates who strive to make a difference in their community. As President of the organization, Katie has the opportunity to bring together college students to increase tobacco use awareness and address the inequality of health issues faced by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky has one of the highest rates of tobacco use across the nation, and it will take an empowered young adult generation to evoke long-term social change. Katie is poised to take this role and recognizes the value of engaging others in confronting this challenge.