Southwestern University is proud to announce that Antonio Esparza ’22 has been named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education. Esparza joins 212 students from 39 states; Washington, DC; and Mexico to form the 2021–2022 cohort.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a yearlong program for students from Campus Compact member institutions. The students selected for the fellowship are leaders on their campuses who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally, and internationally.

“In my efforts to engage young people in the political process, I’ve come to recognize the potential that young voters have in addressing societal issues.”

Esparza is double majoring in political science and environmental studies. “Since arriving at Southwestern in 2018, my interests in politics and community organizing have culminated in my participation as a community-engaged learning student assistant (CELSA), a fellow for the Campus Vote Project, and a member of SU Votes,” he shares. Through these organizations, Esparza has helped coordinate nonpartisan voter-engagement activities, from planning events promoting voter registration and education as well as organizing phone banks for politically active students. In addition, he has worked at election polls and attended community meetings focusing on overcoming barriers to voter participation. “In my efforts to engage young people in the political process, I’ve come to recognize the potential that young voters have in addressing societal issues,” Esparza says. “One of the primary barriers that I’ve encountered in my interactions with students is their disillusionment with the political process; there is a feeling that their voice does not make an impact on decisions. While this view is disappointing, I believe that it also presents an opportunity to inform and educate young people about the positive benefits of participating in politics.”

The fellowship is named for the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, who was a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. The program provides fellows with a variety of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional, and civic growth. Each year, fellows participate in numerous virtual training and networking opportunities to help provide them with the skills and connections they need to create large-scale positive change. The cornerstone of the fellowship is the Annual Convening of Fellows, which offers intensive skill-building and networking over the course of two days. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and postgraduate opportunities.

“We are proud to recognize these extraordinary student leaders and thrilled to engage with them,” says Campus Compact President Andrew Seligsohn. “The experience of the last year has driven home to all of us that we need open-minded, innovative, public-spirited thinkers and doers. That is what Campus Compact is about, and the stories of our Newman Civic Fellows demonstrate it’s who they are.”