SARASOTA, Fla. (March 26, 2015) – Inspired by a class service project, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) student Jeanine Ashforth turned her idea into a reality to help a disabled veteran. For her commitment to community and service, Ashforth was named a nationally recognized Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact.
Ashforth’s inspiration for the service project came from the Reintegration and Resiliency course she took with Dr. Eric Hodges, in which the primary objective is to develop an idea to address the needs of homeless veterans in the community.
In the course of three months, in addition to her six classes and three part-time jobs, Ashforth designed, acquired supplies for and constructed a “tiny house” for a mentally disabled veteran with whom she had developed a personal friendship. He was able to move out of his van and into his new home days before this winter’s polar vortex brought freezing temperatures to southwest Florida. He lives there to this day.
“Jeanine is a model for how one person can make a difference, as well as for how to take knowledge from the classroom into the community,” said Dr. Sandra Stone, USFSM Regional Chancellor. “She is an effective change agent, not only through her very intelligent and articulate presentation of the issues, but also through her focused and effective problem-solving efforts. She is clearly one who translates theory into action to make a meaningful difference.”
Having grown up as an “Army brat,” Ashforth plans to commit her career to serving veterans. In addition to her work on the issue of homelessness among veterans, she also serves as a mentor in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a support organization for those who have lost loved ones to military service.
The Newman Civic Fellow designation is given to promising student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in their community. The Newman Civic Fellows Award is generously sponsored by the KPMG Foundation. Through service, research and advocacy, these Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the causes of social issues and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.
As these students tackle community challenges, they provide fresh energy and perspective, inspire and mobilize others and develop their own skills and potential. This year’s record number of Fellows will create an even greater capacity for engagement and change through online networking. In keeping with their generation’s emphasis on networks over hierarchies, Newman Civic Fellows will share ideas and materials to further their work through an exclusive online community.
“These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world,” notes Campus Compact Board member Richard Guarasci, president of Wagner College (NY).
Through service-learning courses and other opportunities for community engagement, colleges are developing students’ public problem-solving skills, such as the ability to analyze community needs, the willingness to participate in public processes and debate, the commitment to raise awareness about challenges and the ability to inspire others to become part of the solutions.
About Campus Compact
Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. For more information about the organization and the award, visit http://www.compact.org.
About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee County, in North Port and online. Separately accredited, USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu