Gabby Valentine, C’17, has been named a recipient of the 2016 Newman Civic Fellows Award. The award is presented by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education.
The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors undergraduate and graduate students who have taken action in pursuit of long-term social change and who engage and inspire others in their communities. Valentine was nominated by Vice-Chancellor John McCardell.
A Bonner Leader, Valentine works closely with two organizations, Otey Parish Community Action Committee (CAC) and the University’s Food with Friends program. She is the student volunteer coordinator for CAC, which manages a food pantry and community garden, and the director of Food with Friends, a student-led organization that aims to build and strengthen community through sit-down meals.
“I strive to create and foster environments that bring people together and tear down some of the barriers put up by class and age,” said Valentine. “Community engagement is not about giving, it’s about sharing.”
As additional outreach, Valentine began a program in Sherwood, where she opens the Community Center once a week for local children to come in and receive assistance with homework. An older woman also comes in at the same time to quilt by hand. Other students, who are either interested in learning to quilt or in tutoring children, also attend. The goal of this program is to develop an open and casual environment for Sherwood’s children to receive educational help, as well as for University students to learn from a skilled community member.
“The [Sherwood] program represents Gabby’s gift of being able to find simple but effective ways to bring students together with community members to develop mutually beneficial relationships,” said McCardell.
This year, the Newman Civic Fellows Award was given to 218 student leaders representing Campus Compact member institutions from 36 states. Julian “Jewlz” Humphrey-Davis, C'16, received the award last year.