Jennifer Vasquez, a junior studying political science at Albright College has been named a 2021 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact — the largest national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement. Fellowship winners are selected for their demonstrated commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing local, national and international communities.
“I have witnessed Jennifer’s passion and motivation to make the world a better place, and I know that she is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to social change,” said Beth Kiester, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology. “Based on her research experience, internship exploration and on-campus leadership, she has extraordinary potential to continue advocating for a more equitable and just world.”
In addition to serving on both the President’s Student Advisory Council and the Council for an Inclusive, Thriving and Equitable Community at Albright College, Vasquez works directly with peers as president of the college’s Hispanic Heritage Club and the International Student Association.
For the last nine months, she has worked side-by-side with Kiester to research the impact of COVID-19, precarious status, detention and deportation on immigrant communities. The student/faculty duo have conducted more than 25 interviews with doctors, lawyers, advocates, politicians and religious leaders who serve immigrant communities – and will share their findings publically on April 20, for the Greater Reading Immigration Project 2021 Virtual Lecture Series. The series addresses inequalities facing immigrants and their communities, especially during a global pandemic.
Vasquez has also taken on a political science internship with a Reading area immigration law office, serving detained immigrant families. In this capacity, she writes declarations and communicates with attorneys about cases, and even serves as a translator for families.
“This work affirms my drive to become an immigration attorney and defend the rights of those who are so vulnerable,” said Vasquez. “As a first-generation college student and Mexican-American woman, I hope to leave my mark by empowering this community that inspires me through their strength and dedication for a better tomorrow. More than anything, what keeps me going is the question that I repeat to myself everyday: ‘If not me, then who?’”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is a year-long program named for the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, who was a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides fellows with a variety of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional and civic growth. Fellows participate in virtual training and networking opportunities to help provide skills and connections they need to create large-scale positive change. Vasquez joins 212 Newman Fellows from 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico.
“I know that Jennifer will put the Newman Fellowship training and resources to great use, and will continue to impact both her college campus and the broader community, well into the future,” said Albright President Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, ’82, Ph.D.