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English student to connect underserved students with academic resources as Newman Civic Fellow

Amelia Jones is a student who has devoted much of her college career to community-engaged leadership. Jones will continue her work helping connect disadvantaged students with educational resources as West Virginia University’s 2020 Newman Civic Fellow.

Amelia Jones

Jones, a student in the Honors College and an English major in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences with minors in theatre and German, will enter her senior year this fall. A first-generation student, Jones is passionate about expanding resources and access to leadership skill development and higher education information for students who attend alternative schools in West Virginia.

This dedication to community engagement started for Jones when she was a sophomore in high school and was selected to attend the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar. Jones has continued to work with the program each summer since, mentoring new high school student ambassadors. 

“That’s really where my passion for service began,” Jones said. “I learned how to develop my leadership skills at a young age and how to apply my leadership through service in my own community.”

In addition to her sustained work with HOBY, Jones serves as a senator in the Student Government Association, where she headed a project to collect 43 care packages filled with college-branded material for at-risk youth in southern West Virginia, with the goal of helping these youth envision a future filled with opportunity. 

This led Jones to the project she will be pursuing as a Newman Civic Fellow, focusing on helping underserved students in Monongalia County in partnership with Pantry Plus More. 

“We’re going to hold donation drives for gently-used school supplies to send to students in alternative schools in Monongalia County, so they don’t have to worry about where their school supplies are coming from, because they’re facing so many other challenges,” Jones said. “It’s the least we can do as college students to give back to our community. So much of the school supplies we have go to waste, so why not use them to help?”

Jones chose to focus on alternative schools for her donation drive because, according to research she did with the Center for Service and Learning, students attending these schools typically do not have the same access to education supplies and opportunities as their peers at traditional public schools, while also facing additional challenges to matriculating through school, due to behavioral or other issues.

Educational attainment is a passion for Jones. As a member of the Student Government Association, Jones also collaborates with departments across the University to work to improve retention at WVU, especially with first-year students. Jones is also a peer mentor for incoming Honors freshmen, a student in the Honors EXCEL program, and a founding member of the student service advisory board, where she has worked hard to facilitate student engagement in service at WVU.

"The Newman Civic Fellowship provides a support structure for committed students to carry out a passion project in their community. Amelia has already started her program and we are excited to see it grow and evolve next year with the resources and training she receives as a Newman Civic Fellow," said Amy Cyphert, director of the ASPIRE Office.

Campus Compact has named 290 students as Newman Civic Fellows for 2020, the largest ever cohort, with fellows from universities and colleges across the United States and from Mexico.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional, and civic growth for students who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and an investment in solving public problems. Through the fellowship, which is named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, 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. The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

Students who are interested in applying for this or other nationally competitive scholarships can email aspire@mail.wvu.edu for an appointment.