Matthew Dornbush, David Coury, Zoe Betancourt, Alison Staudinger and Chancellor Gary Miller

First-year student Zoe Betancourt named Newman Civic Fellow

Award recognizes her potential to increase civic engagement

Zoe Betancourt, a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay first-year student from Cudahy, Wis., has been named a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow, one of 268 student leaders nationwide recognized by Campus Compact.

Newman Civic Fellows are among the next generation of civic leaders. According to Campus Compact — a coalition of nearly 1000-plus college and university presidents committed to campus-based community engagement — these students make the most of their college experiences through service, research and advocacy to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.

Betancourt, a Democracy and Justice Studies major, was nominated for the honor by UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller. In his nomination letter, Chancellor Miller recognized Betancourt’s desire to build networks and make campus a better place to learn.

“Through her association with the American Intercultural Center and through the Women of Color student organization, she discussed the need for more social support for minority students,” Miller wrote. “Along with advocating for this change, she took action, co-founding our first multicultural sorority. They focus on advancing education and addressing systemic social change through service.”

“Being one of the founding eight for Psi Theta Nu has to be my proudest accomplishment,” she says. “There were many setbacks and doubts regarding our vision for this multicultural sorority, and now that we have gotten our running start, nothing is holding us back from making a change in not only the UW-Green Bay community but the Green Bay community as well,” she said.Psi Theta Nu Sorority

As part of the Gateways to Phoenix Success (GPS) first-year learning community, Betancourt is developing a year-long project to connect students to youth in the community through mentorship, and by building partnerships with Upward Bound and local public schools. She also is a member of the Diversity Task Force, creating inclusive programming at UW-Green Bay and expanding awareness of multicultural issues.

“This is an impressive resume for any student,” Miller noted, “but particularly one only half-way through her first year. “

Betancourt intends to pursue a career related to international issues including human rights, with a degree in Democracy and Justice Studies with a focus on “U.S. and the World,” combining humanistic and social scientific approaches to problems as well as “high impact experiences” like student research.

She is motivated, she says, by her family.

“My family has sacrificed and altered their lives a lot for me to go to school and to have the experiences that I have been fortunate to have,” Betancourt said. “My parents and sisters are some of the most hardworking people I know, so to make sure that I’m succeeding in school and making them proud is very important to me.”

Each Newman Fellow will spend the 2018-2019 year working with a local mentor and in collaboration with Newman Fellows around the country to develop their capacity for campus leadership. Fellows are awarded the funded opportunity to attend an institute in Boston, MA, hosted by Campus Compact and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

At this fall meeting, Betancourt will work with other fellows to develop as a student leader and participate in a U.S. Congressional simulation. Her work will be in partnership with UWGB’s developing work to increase access to and quality of civic engagement initiatives between the campus and the community through the development and enactment of a civic action plan.

About the Newman Civic Fellowship

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. The fellowship, named for Campus Compact founder Frank Newman, provides training and resources that nurture students’ assets and passions to help them develop strategies to achieve social change. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides learning opportunities focused on the skills fellows need in order to serve as effective agents of change in addressing public problems and building equitable communities. The fellowship is a one-year experience for students in which fellows have access to in-person and virtual learning opportunities, networking events, and mentoring. While the fellowship experience is limited to one year, participants in the Newman Civic Fellowship are invited to join a national network of community-committed peers and to enter into a long-term community of Newman Civic Fellows.

About the University Wisconsin Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs to 7,158 students. The University transforms lives and communities through exceptional and award-winning teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities and a problem-solving approach to education. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.