AU Junior named a Campus Compact 2011 Newman Civic Fellow
Melissa Mahfouz, a junior in the School of International Service (SIS), has been named a 2011 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact. The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change. "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," explains Campus Compact President Maureen F. Curley. 137 students from 30 states were named Newman Civic Fellows in this inaugural group. Students were nominated by college and university presidents to acknowledge their motivation and ability in public leadership.
Newman Civic Fellows awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform. Frank Newman's leadership was selfless, optimistic, and determined, spanning an incredible career of more than five decades. At the core of Dr. Newman's leadership was a belief in the power of individuals to make a difference and in the power of connection with others. Newman Civic Fellows form a unique network of leaders who will inspire and keep hope alive for one another during college and afterward, as the network expands exponentially each year. Frank Newman had a tremendous impact on American education and its role in the development of citizens who want to make a difference. The Newman Civic Fellows are reflections and affirmations of his life's work.
Melissa has been an engaged campus leader at American University, immersing herself in addressing social justice issues affecting the community. For two years, Melissa has served as Co-Chair of the Community of Learners Advancing in Spanish and English (CLASE), a program dedicated to a language and cultural exchange between students and the janitorial (Aramark) and dining hall staff (Bon Appétit) of the university, in efforts to reduce the communication barrier between these populations. Under Melissa's leadership, the program has expanded from direct service to broader skills and advocacy around employment, leadership development, and education. In his nomination letter for Melissa, President Kerwin notes "During Melissa's time at AU she has been both conscience and catalyst for multiple acts of solidarity designed to make this community a more just and livable place."
American University is proud of the contributions Melissa has made to her university. She joins a national group of fellows and will have multiple opportunities to network throughout the year through state and regional conferences and other gatherings. We are delighted to have an AU student among this inaugural group of fellows and are looking forward to seeing Melissa help shape the Campus Compact Newman Fellows Program in the years to come.