Gonzaga Student Veronica Ochoa Honored as 2017 Newman Civic Fellow

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

SPOKANE, Wash. Gonzaga University junior Veronica Ochoa is one of 273 students nationwide named as 2017 Newman Civic Fellows by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education.

Ochoa, a physical education major from Bonney Lake, Washington, serves as a leader in the summer BRIDGE program that welcomes to campus incoming underrepresented students who are people of color, first-generation college students or members of the LGBT community. As a peer mentor, Ochoa supports fellow underrepresented students in developing a solid foundation during their transition to college. Her other involvements include La Raza Latina, the Filipino American Student Union, the Residence Hall Association, tutoring at-risk youth through the Saturday Literacy Program, and participation in alternative spring breaks to learn about critical social justice issues.

“She is keenly aware of the health disparities that impact low income communities and minorities,” said Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh. “As an educator, she wants to encourage schools, families and youth to recognize the multiple dimensions of health and well-being that are critical to a child’s ability to succeed in school.”

In the future, Ochoa hopes to share her story of overcoming hardship with students.

“As a person of color, woman and first-generation college student, getting to and staying in college was no easy feat,” she said. “I’ve had my fair share of struggles that have shaped me into the person I am today.”

As a Newman Civic Fellow, Ochoa will be a part of the first cohort to benefit from a completely redesigned fellowship. The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional, and civic growth. Through the fellowship, 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 U.S. Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to exclusive scholarship and postgraduate opportunities.

“The cultivation of community-committed leaders has never been more crucial,” said Campus Compact President Andrew Seligsohn. “We rebuilt the Newman Civic Fellowship experience because our country needs more people who know how to bring communities together for positive change. We are thrilled to welcome this group of 273 exemplary students as the first cohort to participate in this new model.”