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Rutgers University–Newark Student Honored as Newman Civic Fellow

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Sarah Shobut

Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, has announced the 290 students from across the U.S. who will make up the organization’s 2020-2021 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. The 2020 cohort—the largest group of Newman Civic Fellows to date—includes Rutgers-Newark student Sarah Shobut of Wayne, New Jersey.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a yearlong program for students from Campus Compact member institutions. The students sought for the fellowship are “changemakers and public problem-solvers,” according to the organization, selected based on their leadership and demonstrated commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally, and internationally.

A sophomore at Rutgers-Newark, Shobut already has amassed a striking list of accomplishments academically and as a leader among her peers. A dean’s list student in the Honors College, she is a dual major in political science and women and gender studies, with a minor in legal studies, who also is a Legal Profession Learning Community Mentor. Her leadership roles also include serving as a senator for the Rutgers University–Newark Student Governing Association, where she has emphasized partnering with student leaders from the LGBTQIA+ and Undocumented student organizations to mobilize support in raising awareness about their personal experiences. Shobut also has taken the lead with incentivizing student leaders to complete the Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Bystander Training aimed at engaging students to learn how to address sexual assault and interpersonal violence among their peers. Through her efforts, more than 80 recognized student organizations are expected to participate in this training.
 
Shobut also serves as vice president of Rutgers University–Newark College Democrats, where she works with dozens of student organizations and community partners to organize voter registration drives. Sarah’s collaborative efforts contributed to Rutgers-Newark winning the state-wide Ballot Bowl competition for two consecutive years.
 
Shobut cites her personal experience as the primary motivating factor behind her commitments. “As an immigrant Muslim woman, I noticed decisions are made by people who did not represent me, nor did they reflect my community and identities, whether regarding practicing my religious beliefs or being in charge of my own body,” she said. “After that life-changing realization, I became disappointed with the level of civic engagement of my peers. I wanted to help give voice to underrepresented and marginalized groups.”
 
The Newman Civic Fellowship is named for the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, who was, himself, a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. In the spirit of Dr. Newman’s leadership, Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors may nominate one student from their institution for the fellowship.
 
Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who nominated Shobut, thinks that Shobut embodies the Newman Civic Fellowship program’s aspirations, as well as the example set by Frank Newman. “Sarah grounds her activism in her own story,” said Cantor. “She has become an agent for change in ways that are nothing short of inspiring, engaging fellow students in how to create safe spaces, advocate for equity, and promote ally-ship, in the process making an impact on hundreds of students who have committed to acting as agents of social change within their own sphere of influence. We are thrilled that she has earned this well-deserved recognition.”
 
Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides the students with a variety of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional, and civic growth. Each year, Fellows are invited to a national, in-person conference of Newman Civic Fellows and participate in numerous virtual training and networking opportunities. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways 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.
 
About Rutgers University–Newark 
Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) is a diverse, urban, public research university that is an anchor institution in New Jersey’s cultural capital. More than 13,000 students are currently enrolled at its 38-acre campus in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, University College, the Graduate School, Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick, the Rutgers Law School–Newark, the School of Criminal Justice, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration. RU-N is exceptionally well positioned to fulfill higher education’s promise as an engine of discovery, innovation, and social mobility. It has a remarkable legacy of producing high-impact scholarship that is connected to the great questions and challenges of the world. It has the right mix of disciplines and interdisciplinary centers and institutes to take on those questions and challenges. It is in and of a city and region where its work on local challenges undertaken with partners from many sectors resonates powerfully throughout our urbanizing world. Most importantly, RU-N brings an incredible diversity of people to this work—students, faculty, staff, and community partners—making it more innovative, more creative, more engaging, and more relevant for our time and the times ahead. For more information, visit www.rutgers.edu.
 
About Campus Compact
Campus Compact is a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Campus Compact supports institutions in fulfilling their public purposes by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. As the largest national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, we provide professional development to administrators and faculty to enable them to engage effectively, facilitate national partnerships connecting campuses with key issues in their local communities, build pilot programs to test and refine promising models in engaged teaching and scholarship, celebrate and cultivate student civic leadership, and convene higher education institutions and partners beyond higher education to share knowledge and develop collective capacity. Visit www.compact.org.