2019 Newman Fellow Pledges to Pay It Forward
By Paige Caldwell
Boston-based non-profit organization, Campus Compact, recently announced its 2019 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. The organization, which works to advance the public purposes of higher education, selected 262 students from around the country for this honor. Among this new class of fellows is the University of Houston-Downtown's very-own Mikaela Lopez.
Lopez is a second-year student studying biology in the College of Sciences & Technology and an active leader in issues of social inequality. For the past four years, she has worked closely with underserved communities. As a Newman Fellow, she will participate in projects that emphasize personal, professional and civic growth.
Such initiatives aren't new to Lopez, who contributes her time and energies to a range of socially conscious programs. With the help of the D.O.G (Disciples of God) organization at her church, she has organized "Operation Best Christmas Ever" and "Operation Turkey." She's also bought toys, shoes and clothing for children in need. Likewise, Lopez regularly organizes events that allow families to come together and enjoy meals.
“For me, seeing the joy that you can bring into someone else’s life through the simple act of feeding them is amazing,” she said. “In turn, it’s the best feeling in the world being fortunate enough to be able to make a difference.”
Lopez has been involved in political campaigns and encourages others to vote. Her convictions are apparent in her efforts to address issues such as women's inequality, sexual violence, and incarceration of non-violent convicted criminals.
Presently, she's focusing her energies on animal injustices and exploring new possibilities to raise awareness about the issue of stray animals. She plans to create advertising and signage for low income communities that bring awareness to this problem.
Her advocacy, dedication, and leadership have inspired others to get involved and work alongside her.
“I believe in paying it forward because one act of kindness leads to another,” Lopez said. “This is what drives me. I genuinely care for the well-being of others. I have worked on issues faced by people who live in impoverished communities by organizing events to feed the hungry, driving those without transportation, and providing other assistance. I plan to continue these efforts as a Newman Fellow.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience tailored for students who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and an investment in solving public problems.
“Ms. Lopez shines when she talks about the various projects that she leads,” said UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. “She is an ideal student to become a Newman Fellow. She has much to contribute to the conversation and will learn from like-minded persons across the country. I am confident that she will truly benefit from this honor and develop as a leader at local and national stages.”
Through 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 proud to recognize each of these extraordinary student leaders and thrilled to have the opportunity to engage with them,” said Campus Compact President Andrew Seligsohn. “The stories of this year's Newman Civic Fellows make clear that they are committed to finding solutions to pressing problems in their communities and beyond. 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. Learn more at compact.org/newman-civic-fellowship.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.