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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

University of Dayton student named Newman Civic Fellow

By Ashley Junkunc ’21

University of Dayton junior Claire Sullivan was awarded a Newman Civic Fellowship in recognition of her leadership and involvement in the Dayton community.

Sullivan, a biology major from Kettering, Ohio, joins 290 students in the U.S. and abroad to form the 2020-2021 cohort. This year’s cohort is the largest to date and includes students from 39 states, Washington, D.C., Greece, Lebanon and Mexico.

Sullivan is a member of the River Stewards, a three-year interdisciplinary program that allows students to work on community and environmental based projects through the University’s Rivers Institute, administered by the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. She collaborated with a local nonprofit, Little Miami Watershed Network, to place “no dumping” stickers on water drains in the city of Oakwood, Ohio. Afterwards, Sullivan attended an Oakwood City Council meeting to speak about the importance of water quality and sustainability. Each semester, she completes more than 30 hours of community service.

Rivers Institute Director Leslie King recommended Sullivan as a nominee for the fellowship.

“Claire is incredibly committed to her service, to the community and the common good,” King said. “She is very sensitive to the challenges our community faces as she engages in different issues. She is also able to stay positive and persistent, and she always brings her best self to everything she commits to.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a program of the Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing students with platforms to enhance their personal, professional and civic growth. Fellows are chosen for their demonstrated campus leadership and commitment to enacting solutions for local, national or international challenges. Students in the cohort are invited to attend the national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. They are also given access to scholarships, post-graduate opportunities and mentorship.

She plans to attend the next conference, scheduled for March 2021 in Boston, and looks forward to meeting fellow recipients.

“I’m really excited for the conference in Boston,” Sullivan said. “I think it will be inspiring to hear stories of how other students are making impacts in their community. I hope that talking with others will help me do better at supporting and working with my own community either in the city of Dayton or wherever I end up next.”

In addition to her work with the River Stewards, Sullivan has found other campus avenues to explore her passion for environmental policy and sustainability. As an education team leader in the Hanley Sustainability Institute, she hosts sessions in partnership with the Aviate program that allow students to learn how to live sustainably on campus, in return for a housing credit. She also is a student worker in the School of Law’s Zimmerman Law Library and works towards clean water initiatives through the Moral Courage Project, a collaboration between the University’s Human Rights Center and PROOF: Media for Social Justice.

In March, she was one of two recipients of the Core program’s Raymond M. Herbenick Award, which recognizes a graduating Core student who best exemplifies that program’s commitment to interdisciplinary integration.

“It feels really amazing to be recognized for the hard work I’ve put in,” Sullivan said. “I’ve always been someone to push myself in school because it’s so important to me that I am really educated about issues I care about before I go and try to raise my voice about them. I feel like it is largely the hard work I put in at different points in my life that led to this fellowship.”

University President Eric F. Spina nominated Sullivan for the Newman Civic Fellowship. He applauded her demonstration of scholarship, leadership and dedication to drive change.

Spina believes that the fellowship will allow Sullivan to grow further as a servant leader.

“She has a special gift to ask keen questions that reach shared solutions to challenges facing our community,” Spina wrote in his nomination. “Claire understands that showing up, being present and bringing her whole self to every situation is crucial to change making.”

After graduation in May 2021, Sullivan plans to pursue a career in environmental law or international sustainable development. She believes this is an essential area of study she can influence with her appreciation for the natural world.

“UD’s focus on experiential learning and service allowed me to take my passions and interests outside of class and into the world,” she said. “I wouldn’t be so confident in my ability to take initiative to get involved with future communities I am a part of if it wasn’t for programs like this at UD.”

For more information, visit the Campus Compact website

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