Albright College junior Shayla Gaither has been named a 2020 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact. Newman Civic Fellows are leaders on their campuses who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally and internationally. Gaither is graduate of Cheltenham High School, majoring in Communications/Public Relations & Advertising at Albright.
The yearlong Newman Civic Fellowship program honors the life of Frank Newman — a founder of Campus Compact who advocated for civic engagement in higher education. Fellows take part in a variety of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional and civic growth.
“Shayla is a high-achieving, wheelchair-bound student from an underserved community who never lets the world get in her way, and never fails to speak up for others on issues of inequality,” said Albright President Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82, in a letter of nomination.
One of the most active and vocal members of Albright’s high-profile Council for an Inclusive, Thriving and Equitable Community (CITE-C), Gaither has orchestrated events to highlight the need for accessibility on campus, rolled on Capitol Hill to persuade politicians to pass acts supporting disability rights, and offered remarks at Philadelphia’s Widener Memorial School — encouraging students who are living with disabilities to ‘keep pushing forward.’
“My primary focus is on breaking stereotypes and increasing accessibility,” said Gaither. “Persons with disabilities have active lives, African Americans are intelligent, and women are leaders. I intend to break negative stereotypes and continue to be a strong, intelligent, African-American woman, with a disability who will act as a catalyst for change.”
A peer tutor at Albright, Gaither spends her free time volunteering with a nonprofit, independent living center, Abilities in Motion and serving on the board of the United Spinal Association’s local chapter. This spring, she is joining a new all-student accessibility and advocacy panel at Albright College — for which she advocated and is now helping to develop.
“Shayla is the kind of student who will make a ‘forever’ impact on both her college campus and the broader community,” said Fetrow.