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Saint Louis University Student Honored as Newman Civic Fellow

by Bridjes O'Neil
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ST. LOUIS – Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities working to advance the public purposes of higher education, has named 173 student civic leaders who will make up the organization’s 2022-2023 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. 

Marquis Govan, an undergraduate student studying social work and sociology at Saint Louis University, will join students from 38 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico to form the cohort.

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes students who stand out for their commitment to creating positive change in communities locally and around the world. The fellowship is named for the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, who was a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. Fellows are nominated by Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors, who are invited to select one outstanding student from their campus each year.

Marquis Govan: Newman Civic Fellow

Marquis Govan is one of 173 student civic leaders who will make up Campus Compact’s 2022-2023 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. Photo by  Michelle Peltier.

Govan currently is a community organizer and policy fellow with Action STL, a nonprofit policy-focused organization working to improve living conditions in St. Louis. On campus, Govan has leadership positions in the Resident Hall Association and the Student Government Association (SGA) where he will serve as the incoming VP of Diversity and Inclusion. He also is a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars.  

Govan recalls the events that catapulted him into the realm of activism. 

“In 2014 after the murder of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, I began to attend meetings about unfair policing practices and the effects racial inequities were having on the STL region and our country at large,” Govan said. “I also began to work with groups within the community on an accreditation crisis that had hit two majority-Black school districts in north St. Louis County.” 

SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., nominated Govan for his outstanding commitment to serving others.

“Marquis is exploring some of the systematic ways that individuals living in poverty experience disparities in their access to health care, education, housing, and employment. He is particularly interested in investigating the determinants of urban violence and policy initiatives that may curb it,” Pestello said.

Through the fellowship, Campus Compact will provide these students with a year of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional, and civic growth. Each year, fellows participate in numerous virtual training and networking opportunities to help provide them with the skills and connections they need to create large-scale positive change. The cornerstone of the fellowship is the Annual Convening of Fellows, which offers intensive skill-building and networking over two days. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

“We are proud to name such an outstanding and diverse group of students Newman Civic Fellows,” said Campus Compact President Bobbie Laur. “Their passion and resolve to take action on the wide range of issues challenging our neighborhoods and communities is inspiring and deeply needed. We cannot wait to engage with them through this transformative experience.”

Aric Hamilton: 2021-2022 SLU Newman Civic Fellow

Aric Hamilton, an undergraduate student majoring in education at SLU, was among the organization’s 2021-2022 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows whose fellowship continues through May. Like Govan, Hamilton is actively involved in addressing issues of racial and economic justice, as well as community wellness.

Hamilton’s goal as a Newman Civic Fellow is to assist in advancing equity within the American school system through transformative institutional change by the following: promoting inclusive dialogue and compelling action, policy, and practice to decrease equity gaps and ensure the success of students of historically oppressed marginalized, and disenfranchised backgrounds. 

Hamilton’s peers recently elected him to serve as SLU’s SGA President. He has served as an SGA Senator since his first semester at SLU. Liam John, an undergraduate student studying health management and public health, was SLU’s 2020-2021 Newman Civic Fellow.

The Newman Civic Fellowship program is supported by the KPMG Foundation. You can read more about each of the student leaders selected for this year’s cohort here.                                                                                                                         

About Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.

About Campus Compact

Campus Compact is a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes 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 leadership, and convene higher education institutions and partners beyond higher education to share knowledge and develop collective capacity. Visit www.compact.org.