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. The Newman Civic Fellows Award is named for Dr. Frank Newman, one of the founders of Campus Compact, who dedicated his life to creating opportunities for student civic learning and engagement.
Following an initial volunteer opportunity with the MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement during his first semester in 2012, Day became increasingly involved in campus life and community service.
The Gardner resident currently serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA, dedicated to working with community partners to provide quality service learning and civic learning opportunities for MWCC students. He is treasurer and past vice president of the MWCC Student Government Association, is president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is a founding member of the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) peer advocacy program.
In addition, Day participates in the college’s Leadership for Life program, is an orientation leader during new student orientations, has volunteered during alternative spring break with Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts, and is a past member of the Campus Activities Team for Students. Day earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in May 2014 and is currently a full-time student pursuing a certificate in Small Business Management at MWCC. He plans to continue his studies toward a bachelor’s degree in business.
“We are extremely proud of John for his leadership on campus and in the community, and are delighted that he has been recognized with this distinguished award,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “John is motivated, enthusiastic and dedicated, and cares very deeply for his fellow students. As a student leader, he serves in many capacities, but above all, he is a true advocate for others.”
For the past three years, Day has served as a peer mentor in the SOS program, where he provides guidance and advice to fellow students who are struggling to meet basic needs such as housing, transportation and childcare, while pursuing their education. Nearly 90 percent of the students who seek assistance from the SOS office remain enrolled. Day said that as an SOS volunteer and mentor, he has gained greater insight into the inequalities that many area residents encounter.
“It is truly humbling to witness the struggle some students face to get an education to better their lives and the lives of their families,” he said. “I am glad to help them succeed. Working in the SOS office has opened my eyes to needs in our community and how I can be a part of addressing injustice and inequality. Through these experiences I have volunteered alongside people who are very different from myself; they hold different political, religious, and cultural beliefs, and that has been invaluable. I have learned what it truly means to be a part of a community which is full of respect, compassion and caring.”
Day has helped develop numerous civic engagement projects and programming, including the national Economic Inequality Initiative that is being spearheaded by MWCC, Keene State College and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment. This past fall, Day coordinated student, alumni, staff and faculty volunteers during the college’s second annual United Way Day of Caring event. Crews assembled 20,435 meals for homeless shelters, food pantries and veterans organizations in North Central Massachusetts.
Day is one of 201 college and university students selected for the national award this year. This is the third consecutive year a Mount Wachusett student has received the prestigious recognition.
“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,” Richard Guarasci, chairman of the Campus Compact board and president of Wagner College in New York.
The Newman Civic Fellows Award is generously sponsored by the KPMG Foundation. For more information about the organization and the award, visit http://www.compact.org.