McKenzie Ward receives Newman Civic Fellowship award
By Steven Bonini
McKenzie Ward will be one of 212 students from 39 states, in addition to Washington D.C. and Mexico, to participate in the Newman Civic Fellowship.
According to the University website, Campus Compact, “a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education,” selects students for the fellowship from Campus Compact member institutions who “demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally, and internationally.”
Constanza Cabello, vice president for diversity, inclusion, and community engagement, said in order for a student to be eligible for the fellowship, they must be nominated by the campus president.
Ward said after discussing the details of the fellowship with former fellowship recipient Abigail Salvucci, vice president of SGA, and having a meeting with Cabello to go over the application process, she decided to apply.
Ward said she applied for the fellowship in mid-January and was nominated by President F. Javier Cevallos.
Ward is a sophomore double majoring in English and history.
She is currently serving as student trustee and is a peer mentor for FSU Foundations, a first-year seminar program. She is also the Foundation’s intern on campus and is a member of the Tau Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies.
Ward is also Opinions Editor for The Gatepost.
She served as an SGA Senator for the 2019-20 academic year.
Ward said she was “happy” to hear she had been accepted for the fellowship and she hopes this program will help her to enhance her “leadership skills.
“I think this fellowship is going to be an amazing experience,” she said. “It really allows me to further my reach on campus and also further my reach in the community and help make it a better place.
“I’m really passionate about civic engagement, while also being really passionate about mental health and educating people on mental health,” she added.
Ward said her personal “goal” with this fellowship is to learn skills to help “better serve
underrepresented groups of individuals” during her time at FSU as well as post-graduation.
She added she hopes to use this fellowship to help educate the campus “on mental health issues, while also continuing Abby’s [Salvucci’s] work with food and housing insecurity.”
Ward said she attended a luncheon with Salvucci, as part of the former recipient’s fellowship, to talk about mental health.
She said at the luncheon, they discussed “how we need to better fund mental health and make that one of our priorities, especially on campus, with COVID and the impact COVID has had on mental health issues.
“One of my goals is to hopefully work with Anna Cross [the executive director of the MetroWest Nonprofit Network] – my mentor – to better educate people on funding mental health in universities and also just in our government in general,” she added.
Ward said as part of the fellowship, she’ll attend “monthly virtual meetings with other fellows,” adding she hopes she’ll be able to attend a conference for the fellowship at Tufts University next year.
She said she’s still awaiting more details on the conference.
Ward said in terms of career goals, she hopes to eventually serve as FSU’s SGA president and one day attend law school.
She said she believes this fellowship will help expand her experience and better prepare her for those fields.
Cabello said anybody who knows Ward “knows that she is super involved on campus – she really cares about FSU.
“She cares about the local community,” she said. “I think her work with student government has been really, really impactful.
“For her to be part of student government – to use her position within student government to advocate for different social justice topics – has been really important,” she added.
Cabello said Ward was a “natural choice” for the fellowship.
“I’ve gotten a chance to work with Kenzie [Ward] closely through her role as a student trustee,” she said. “I’ve just been really impressed with her ability to advocate for students, to think with a justice lens, and to help us be a better campus.”
She added as part of the fellowship Ward will join the “community engagement work group,” a group Cabello leads which she said “essentially” works to “connect on different ways and initiatives that FSU can best partner with the local community.”
Cabello is also on the MetroWest Nonprofit Network Board and said she will work with Ward to “think about initiatives and projects and ways that we can positively influence FSU, but also the larger MetroWest community.”
Cevallos said he was “honored” to nominate Ward for the fellowship and “thrilled” to learn of her acceptance.
“She has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities at FSU, particularly in her role as student trustee,” he said.
“She is a passionate advocate for her fellow students and does an excellent job keeping members of the Board and Executive Staff informed about issues of importance to students,” he added.
Cevallos highlighted Ward’s advocacy for mental health, food, and housing insecurity as well as areas of social justice, adding she’s “an ideal candidate for the Newman Civic Fellowship.
“I know she will represent FSU well in this role,” he said.
Salvucci said seeing Ward accepted for the fellowship was “exciting,” adding she thinks Ward is someone who is “invested in the betterment of the community.
“This position isn’t easy – it takes a lot of creativity and self-motivation to create new ways to support the community,” said Salvucci. “But Kenzie [Ward] already has the foundational energy and love for this work – I already know she will succeed.
“When she’s passionate about something, she will work until she gets to her goal,” said Salvucci. “She has a lot of love for her community, and really invests a large part of herself into this work, which is so commendable.”
Salvucci said her personal experience with the fellowship has been “great.
“This role has given me hands-on learning and experience when it comes to non-profit work, and what it means to do service and be part of a community, especially during a pandemic,” she said.
She added being on the MetroWest Nonprofit Network Board has given her “firsthand knowledge of how the pandemic is hurting not only nonprofits, but the community around us in general.”
Salvucci said the Board has helped “foster ideas on how college students can invest and support the amazing community around us.”
Regarding her work with Anna Cross, she said Cross has been, “for a lack of a better description, amazing.
“Anna has such a deep love and respect for the nonprofit world, and it’s infectious,” she said.
“She respects the younger generation of leaders and really listens to our new ideas,” she added. “As a part of the MWNN [MetroWest Nonprofit Network] Board, Anna has never viewed me differently than the other members, despite the age or credentials difference, and I know she will do the same for Kenzie.”
Cross said the MetroWest Nonprofit Network is “thrilled” to serve as the mentor organization for Ward and said their priority is to “support next-generation leadership.
“We’ve been so honored to serve in this capacity for the inaugural year of the Fellowship and this year’s student leader, Abigail Salvucci,” said Cross.
“It’s clear that the students who are chosen to serve as Newman Fellows are committed, passionate advocates, and activists who are determined to create positive changes in their communities,” she added.
Cross said the MetroWest Nonprofit Network is “committed to the program and the mission of the Fellowship,” adding they have voted to create a “permanent position” on the MetroWest Nonprofit Network Board for “any current and future students who are selected to serve as Newman Fellows.
“We are excited about having McKenzie [Ward] join us at the leadership table and look forward to learning from and with her,” said Cross.