May 16, 2018
Amanda Nagy
Portrait of Zola Barnes
Zola Barnes '19 Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Zola Barnes, a fourth-year double-degree student, will receive a year of training, mentorship, and learning opportunities focused on the skills needed to achieve social change with the Newman Civic Fellowship .

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community service-committed students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions to problems in communities throughout the country. Applicants come from Campus Compact member institutions that support students’ personal, professional, and civic development. Fellows demonstrate the motivation and potential for effective long-term civic engagement.

Barnes is majoring in vocal performance in the Conservatory of Music and anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a minor in ethnomusicology. She has a passion for increasing access to music and arts education in public schools.

Since coming to Oberlin, she has been engaged in several music-based community learning projects with Oberlin City residents. In 2016, she began working with the newly formed Oberlin Arts Center to compile a calendar for arts-related events happening in Oberlin. She has also worked with Bronwen Fox, the music teacher at Langston Middle School, to formulate and execute a series of weekly music workshops in which they explored different musical genres with the seventh-grade choir.

More recently, Barnes has become involved in community-based learning through courses taught by Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Anthropology Jennifer Fraser. In fall 2017, she was a teaching assistant for Fraser’s Ethnomusicology as Activism class. She is a student representative on the Community-Based Learning Committee.

“I am really excited to get to know other students who are working and learning in community- engaged ways throughout the country,” says Barnes, who is from Baltimore, Maryland. “Building relationships and sharing ideas will not only be helpful with work that I hope to do while I am still at Oberlin, but also with work I hope to do after I graduate.”

Barnes says she looks forward to continuing her musical journey with Oberlin Public Schools.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to engage with Oberlin's young students and share with them some of the art that has made such a difference for me and so many others. I will keep working so that Oberlin school students have greater access to free and approachable music and arts education.”  

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