Campus Compact — a Boston based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education — has announced the 268 students who will make up the 2018 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. Among them is California State University, Northridge graduate student Lilia Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, a part-time blogger for “La Comadre”— a blog to create knowledge about the challenges faced by people of color and the significance of education for social transformation — and a formerly incarcerated individual who served a four-year sentence on a non-violent conviction, is being honored by Campus Compact for her efforts to help others like her go to college.
After her release from incarceration, Gonzalez co-founded Revolutionary Scholars — an organization and space that provides support for students impacted by the criminal legal system and creates pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals to pursue higher education.
“We are building a prison-to-school pipeline through recruitment, retention and advocacy,” Gonzalez said. “My aim is to challenge societal norms concerning systems impacted people, specifically students impacted by issues of mass incarceration, imprisonment and detainment of any kind.
“My goal is to bridge the popular academic theoretical discourse of mass incarceration with one that is grounded in the lived experiences of CSUN students and people from surrounding communities,” she added.
CSUN president Dianne F. Harrison said Gonzalez uses organizing and activism to make her presence felt.
“Lilia entered higher education overcoming many obstacles, but she persevered, demonstrating resilience and commitment,” Harrison said in a statement to Campus Compact. “Her lived experiences as a formerly incarcerated student motivated her to transform higher education. Lilia labors against the dehumanization of incarcerated people and toward changing the narrative from her embodied knowledge.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth. Throughout 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 apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate and engage with such an extraordinary group of students,” said Andrew Seligsohn, president of Campus Compact. “The stories of this year’s Newman Civic Fellows make clear that they are bringing people together in their communities to solve pressing problems. That is what Campus Compact is about, and it’s what our country and our world desperately need.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.
Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1000 colleges and universities committed to the public purpose of higher education. Campus Compact supports institutions in fulfilling their public purposes by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. As the largest national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, we provide professional development to administrators and faculty to enable them to engage effectively, facilitate national partnerships connecting campuses with key issues in their local communities, build pilot programs to test and refine promising models in engaged teaching and scholarship, celebrate and cultivate student civic knowledge and develop collective capacity. For more information visit www.compact.org.