2022 Kentucky Newman Civic Fellows

Student at Bellarmine University
Pursuing majors in Political Science and Criminal Justice
Class of 2023

Addison Rogers

Personal statement:

As a college student, it can be extremely difficult to cook and prepare healthy meals. Most students want convenience but lack the time and skills needed to create healthy and nourishing meals. As a resident assistant, I recognize the lack of knowledge and accessibility to healthy meals that many students face. Luckily, Bellarmine University has a free food pantry that includes fresh produce and other food items. Despite having this pantry, however, I still found that students lacked the ability to effectively cook these items in a healthy and timely way. Upon realizing this issue, I decided to take action by partnering with a local organization called Dare to Care, which provides the goods used in food pantries across the city. Through my working with Dare to Care officials, I was able to bring healthy cooking classes to campus. This program not only provided lessons on cooking, meal prep, and nutrition, but it also served as an educational experience to understand the many resources our community provides. As a fellow, I would work with others in the cohort to improve the collaboration and accessibility of other programs, to assist in the growth in my community and others alike.”

Statement from Susan Donovan, President of Bellarmine:

Addie Rogers is a Criminal Justice and Political Science double major who is passionate about local and statewide community engagement. As a Student Government Vice President and Resident Assistant, Addie has drawn particular attention to the issue of food insecurity and unhealthy eating practices. In October she led a neighborhood-wide essential needs drive to stock the Bellarmine food pantry and Dare to Care regional warehouse. In November, she brought the Dare to Care Healthy Cooking courses to Bellarmine’s residence halls to help students in their nutrition and food waste practices. On the statewide level, Addie spent her winter break helping families impacted by tornado destruction in Mayfield, Kentucky by distributing food and resources at the local high school. Presently, Addie is working on building a satellite food pantry in the residence halls that would be more accessible on weekends and university breaks. She is also working on education-based advocacy on the topic of food insecurity and how people can get involved politically by contacting legislators about raising the minimum wage and a more community-based model for natural disaster relief. She is a true practitioner of social activism, and she will not rest until people’s basic needs are met.”

Student at Berea College
Pursuing a major in Economics with a concentration in International Politics and Policy
Class of 2023

Nathaniel Fish

Personal statement:

Growing up on farms across the United States and beyond, I saw firsthand the importance of agricultural sustainability, food sovereignty, and being close with one’s food systems. I became passionate about finding ways to improve nutrition systems alongside building local economies. My unusual childhood continually allowed me to meet and befriend other international travelers and farmers. My growing taste for adventure, agricultural justice, and new experiences led me to work as a Rotary Youth Ambassador in India, traveling across India meeting farmers, business leaders, and more. When I moved back to the United States to study International Economics at Berea College, I started working with Grow Appalachia. Here, I focus on helping set up small farmers in Appalachia with the tools to succeed. I also helped found a Rotaract Club on campus focused on international service through which we were able to hold tree planting and reproductive health programs in Siaya, Kenya. I try to approach every problem with the empathy to understand the situation, the diligence to lend a hand as a brother, and the respect of mutual partnership. When we look beyond borders, we can truly understand the transformative nature of returning to the soil and our neighbors.”

Statement from Lyle Roelofs, President of Berea:

Nathaniel Fish, a Berea College junior majoring in Economics, with a concentration in International Politics and Policy, as well as a minor in Agriculture and Natural Resources, is an excellent representative of Berea’s model of weaving together learning, labor, and service. Nathaniel believes that the pursuit of agricultural justice provides opportunities for spanning borders, building connections, and developing communities. A Bonner Scholar and founder of Berea’s Rotaract club, he actively participates in this work and continues to cultivate his skills, knowledge, networks, and experiences. Through work on the Berea College Farm and with Grow Appalachia, he participates in developing sustainable agricultural practices and networks in the Appalachian region. Through the development of international service collaborations, he demonstrates how relationships and networks can create capacity for sharing resources, participating in mutual learning, and developing opportunities for families and communities to thrive. Nathaniel’s focus on community economic development, sustainable agriculture, and international perspectives demonstrates that by supporting individual and community development, we can also support our environment and quality of life.”

Student at Centre College
Pursuing a major in Biology
Class of 2024

Kevli Sheth

Personal statement:

As a queer Indian-Kentuckian, I have seen the impacts of stories my whole life. Religious stories about recognizing the divinity in all beings, family stories about immigration and community-building, and discovered stories about my queer ancestors empower me to act in their legacies. I also have been driven to create social change after experiencing how stories are weaponized. Stories about hellfire have coated myself and other LGBTQ+ people in self-loathing and isolation. Stories maligning marginalized groups justify gerrymandering and further healthcare inequities in my hometown. In my work on removing Danville, Kentucky’s Confederate monument, I, alongside others, studied and expanded stories that intentionally obscured the violence committed in the Confederacy’s name. I am currently continuing my advocacy at Centre College as a executive member of Partners-in-Health Engage and our LGBTQ+ and feminist groups. After Centre, I look forward to entering the public health field and developing more equitable health structures and communications. Whether professionally or generally, I aim to both broaden and continue narratives that people before me began and those after me will benefit from.”

Statement from Milton Moreland, President at Centre:

Kevli Sheth, a sophomore at Centre College, is a student leader who models true civic engagement and has made a deep and lasting impact on our community. They balance multiple commitments with enthusiasm and their passion for social justice and inclusivity on campus inspires and empowers others. As the only Jain at Centre, Kevli is uniquely sensitive to the need for interfaith understanding. They worked with CentreFaith to develop a Diwali celebration with South Asian students and have volunteered to speak on interfaith panels. In their work with Centre Feminists, Kevli promoted increased menstrual literacy on campus and collected pads and tampons to distribute within the local community. They have coordinated panels related to women-of-color and hair and women in STEM. They are also involved with Centre Pride Alliance, Partners in Health Engage, and are a member of the Lincoln Scholars program, a scholarship for students who have the capacity and desire to change the world. Finally, Kevli was extremely engaged in the successful work of relocating a Confederate Monument on the grounds of a church across the street from the college. Their work on this initiative included researching, polishing the historical rationale and modifying strategies among group members.”

Student at Lindsey Wilson College
Pursuing a major in Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurial Management
Class of 2023

Yahaira Garcia

Personal statement:

My passion for addressing food insecurity on our college’s campus was first stirred when leading a small team of students through poverty research. We launched a survey to assess campus needs and found that a significant amount of students struggled to buy necessary food and hygiene items, both while at college and when returning to their home communities. In response to our findings, our team created a small food and necessities drive called Bob’s Basket, which has now evolved into a permanent student resource. As a leader, I utilize my knowledge of this social issue, as well as the business management practices learned through my studies, to manage volunteers and operations, improve processes, and foster healthy communication both within our team and in collaboration with campus and community partners. As food insecurity is not a static issue, I continually seek out strategic new ways to approach its solution, not only addressing the immediate need for food and hygiene items but also the long-term need for accessible educational resources for healthy lifestyles.”

Statement from William Luckey, President of Lindsey Wilson:

Yahaira Garcia, a third-year business management major at Lindsey Wilson College, is passionate about addressing food insecurity among college students. Leading a team of her peers, she gathered data to identify specific needs, then used that data to fuel the creation of a self-sustaining food and hygiene pantry on campus that is accessible to anyone. Their goal is to fill needs while students are on campus and connect students with existing resources in their home communities during school breaks. She is currently working with her peers to continue improving the work they already do while creating educational resources that will be shared with those served after their base-level needs are met. She also actively facilitates campus-wide and community collaboration in the services provided, ensuring shared ownership for enduring change both on campus and in the surrounding community.”

Student at the University of Kentucky
Pursuing a major in Social Work
Class of 2024

Kotomi Yokokura

Personal statement:

From a young age, I felt a burning desire to help others and fight for those without a voice. Any timidity dissipated when I set out to defend those who had been overlooked. As I began to volunteer throughout my community, I found my passion for working with people experiencing poverty, food insecurity, and/or homelessness. I became aware of the stigma surrounding these experiences as I saw some treat those in need with disdain and act as though they were invisible. My commitment to change these situations drives my need to help others. During my time at the University of Kentucky, I have been able to conduct research on the experience of homelessness and food insecurity, with a focus on migration and social support. I have also founded a student organization to help fight period poverty both on campus and in the community. My goal is to continue conducting research in hopes of improving policies/programs and eliminating the stigmas targeting these communities.”

Statement from Eli Capilouto, President of UK:

Kotomi Yokukura, a social work major, has a genuine passion and dedication to issues surrounding poverty and women’s rights which has led her to take initiative to make an impact in those areas. Kotomi has been a leader around the issue of “period poverty” which describes the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene supplies and education both in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to on-campus campaigns, she has also sought collaborative partnerships with other institutions including the University of Louisville to address this issue on a state-wide basis in higher education institutions, low-income middle and high schools, as well as homeless shelters. Kotomi’s work also includes research on homelessness and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on college students. Kotomi assisted with research on the migration of the homeless in relation to community services available, as well as research on the perceptions and utilization of social support among chronically homeless men. In addition, Kotomi is working on a survey research project that explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted college students’ psychosocial health, formal and informal support utilization, employment, food insecurity, and social behaviors.”