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Junior Nicolette Epifani Named Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact

Nicolette Epifani

Nicolette Epifani

Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, has honored 218 students as 2016 Newman Civic Fellows. Among the honorees is Widener University junior Nicolette Epifani of Mantua, N.J. The Newman Civic Fellows Award recognizes inspiring college student leaders who have worked to find solutions for challenges facing their communities.

Epifani, a sociology major with a concentration in civic engagement and social change, is a member of Widener’s Presidential Service Corps/Bonner Leader Program. Through this program, a distinguished group of students who live, learn and work together, devote themselves to responsible citizenship. Members commit to 300 hours of community service per year and participate in training and enrichment activities that help them inspire others to follow their lead.

“Over the past three years, Nicolette has completed 900 hours of service with our community, integrating her work on the ground with academic research on poverty and society, social activism, union organizing and more,” said Widener University President Julie E. Wollman, who nominated Epifani for the Civic Fellow recognition. “Her passion is contagious, and her potential for changing the root causes of economic inequality both on the ground and in the classroom as a future professor is unparalleled. She truly is a leader of change today as well as for the future.”

Epifani has advocated with classmates for the implementation of a living wage for subcontractors at the Philadelphia International Airport. She was also a semi-finalist for Project Pericles’ Debating for Democracy (D4D) letter writing challenge for which she wrote to Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez of the New Jersey Legislature. She encouraged support for living wage legislation in New Jersey, resembling the current Maryland Living Wage Law, by presenting arguments that such legislation could significantly increase the standard of living for many hard-working citizens in her home state. 

Beginning her freshman year, Epifani engaged with the community surrounding Widener’s Main Campus as a mentor and tutor of youth in the Boys and Girls Club and Northern Star Sports organizations. Currently, she is conducting community-based research on behalf of the Presidential Service Corps/Bonner Leader Program to ensure that both Widener and its community partners maximize the benefits of their relationship. This research has given Epifani a new outlook on community engagement: “The idea of working with community members, rather than simply serving them, has transformed and reinvigorated my passion to make a difference.”

Newman Civic Fellows are named in memory of Dr. Frank Newman, a founder of Campus Compact, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform. At the core of Newman’s leadership was a belief in the power of individuals to make a difference and in the power of connection with others. This class of Newman Civic Fellows embodies this spirit.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to celebrate such an extraordinary group of students,” said Campus Compact President Andrew Seligsohn. “We are seeing a resurgence in student interest in acting to create lasting social change, and this year’s Newman Civic Fellows exemplify that commitment.”

Campus Compact 2016 Newman Civic Fellows represent their higher education institution in a national group of student leaders. These students will soon receive an award certificate and an invitation to join the Newman Civic Fellows online network. In many cases, they will also be invited to participate in state-specific activities. A complete list of the 2016 Newman Civic Fellows can be found at compact.org/newman-civic-fellow/.

The 2016 Newman Civic Fellows Awards are made possible through the generous support of the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

Campus Compact is a nonprofit coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents—representing some 6 million students—who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. As the only national association dedicated to this mission, Campus Compact is a leader in building community engagement into campus and academic life. For more information, visit www.compact.org or follow @Campus_Compact on Twitter.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., are proud to be tobacco-free. Visit the university website, www.widener.edu.