Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, has announced the 273 students who will make up the organization’s 2017 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows, including Lock Haven University’s own Sharon Valerio.
Valerio, a junior biology and chemistry major at Lock Haven University, has been actively involved in creating a wellness program for economically disadvantaged youth in the region. Lauren Wright, director of community service at LHU shared this about Valerio’s commitment to serving her community: “Ms. Valerio became involved with our regional Salvation Army’s After School Program as part of a high school service project. She has continued volunteering her time, focusing on literacy activities, while attending Lock Haven University.”
Valerio’s passion for service originated well before her time at LHU. According to Valerio, “I first became acquainted with socioeconomic inequality while traveling with my Venezuelan father through the U.S. and the bustling streets of Venezuela growing up. As we observed the affluent architecture and shops, my father would always turn the car and drive us to the poorer districts of the "wealthy" cities. He did this to teach my brothers and me that while there exists great beauty and resources in the world, there are also places in great need—even a street over. With time, I realized that I did not have to wait until I was established in my career to serve the people around me. I have been serving as a volunteer at my local Salvation Army since 2014, and as a premedical student, have recently developed and enacted a wellness program for disadvantaged youth that focuses on how to make healthy choices to prevent chronic illnesses.”
Lock Haven University President, Dr. Michael Fiorentino, Jr. shared, “Ms. Valerio recognized that many of the children at the local after school program were in need of services beyond academic support.
She took initiative to develop a comprehensive wellness program for children to learn essential skills in emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. The goals of her program are for children to be empowered in choosing the direction of their own lives and personal health. She would like to expand opportunities at other agencies to enhance their capacity of treating the whole individual with their offered services.”
As a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow, Valerio will be a part of the first cohort to benefit from a completely re-designed fellowship. The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional, and civic growth. 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. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
“The cultivation of community-committed leaders has never been more crucial,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “We rebuilt the Newman Civic Fellowship experience because our country needs more people who know how to bring communities together for positive change. We are thrilled to welcome this group of 273 exemplary students as the first cohort to participate in this new model.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.