Boston-based non-profit organization Campus Compact has released the names of the 290 students from across the country who comprise the 2021-2022 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows.
Iesha-LaShay Phillips, a third-year Africana studies and law and society double-major, has been awarded the Campus Compact 2021 Newman Civic Fellowship after being nominated through the Bonner Center for Community-Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Research.
The fellowship is a year-long program for students who have proven to be exceptionally committed to their communities. It is named for the late Frank Newman, who was a hard-working advocate for civic engagement in higher education. The program provides students with networking and learning opportunities to become the next leaders in civic engagement.
Phillips has been involved with the Bonner Center since her first year at Oberlin. She volunteers as a writing workshop facilitator with Writers in Residence, a program that connects college students with incarcerated youth.
“These workshops are very important,” she says. “They not only advocate for youths’ voices and allow them to express freedom, but they provide them with positive role models in their lives so they can create goals for themselves. And we're not just there promoting writing. If they feel like they just want to talk, we allow them to talk. If they want to draw, we allow them to draw.”
In addition to this outreach, Phillips tutors students at Oberlin High School through the Writing Associates Program, helping them develop confidence in their writing skills through one-on-one conversations.
“Iesha's sustained engagement with young people, particularly incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth, her informed and community-centered approaches to that engagement, and her demonstrated commitment to future public service make her an excellent candidate.”
Through the support of the fellowship, Phillips will develop plans for a summer camp for formerly incarcerated youth.
“I want to put together a summer camp to give these youth an opportunity to go to camp, to swim, and just to be kids. So that they can go canoeing or fishing and hiking and do different things that they never had the opportunity to do. Also, to gain a support system with people who can care about them when they’re out of the detention facilities.”
Phillips is excited to be a part of the program and hopes the national conference can be held safely as an in-person event next year.
“I'm really excited to meet the other students in the fellowship. Being with them might allow me to brainstorm with people who might not have the same beliefs or not think the same as me. This could allow me to gain new ideas for the camp.”
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