MACON – Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, recently selected Mercer University junior Elliza Guta as one of 268 students who will make up the organization’s 2018 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows.
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 United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and postgraduate opportunities.
Guta, a junior, is a political science and psychology double-major from Tampa, Florida. She aspires to attend law school and work in the Office of Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice.
As part of her fellowship, she will present Operation Lighthouse (OLH), a teen dating violence prevention program, at after-school organizations in Macon and collect data about the program’s effectiveness. After multiple implementations of OLH, she hopes to present the information she gathers to the Bibb County School District and advocate for the implementation of OLH in the public school system.
“Elliza embodies all of the qualities of an effective civic leader: the passion to advocate for those who are wronged, the ability to analyze and research remedies for the situation, and the combination of tenacity and charisma that makes change happen,” said Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service learning at Mercer. “I am confident in her ability to empower local youth to recognize and speak out against teen dating violence.”
Guta is active in a number of organizations, including Honor Council, Mercer Ambassadors, Alpha Delta Pi and Mercer Service Scholars.
She has interned at Metropolitan Ministries, a non-profit organization that works to end homelessness in Tampa, and assisted Dr. Sara Appleby, assistant professor of psychology, in a forensic psychology research project on the effects of poverty on false confessions.
Guta became interested in the issue of violence against women once she began volunteering at Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia, a battered women’s advocacy shelter in Macon, last January.
Her passion for women’s issues further developed after traveling to Cape Town, South Africa, with Mercer On Mission to teach primary school students about healthy relationships in impoverished townships. Additionally, she traveled to the Republic of Georgia on a second Mercer On Mission trip to conduct research on the intersection of faith and domestic violence.
Upon returning from those two trips, she was inspired to take action to reduce the prevalence of relationship violence and partnered with Crisis Line and Safe House to create OLH to equip students with the tools to engage in healthy relationships and empower them to speak out against relationship violence.
Currently, she is in the process of pilot-testing OLH at the after-school program Street to Success, and she hopes to partner with several other local youth organizations.
“Becoming a Newman Civic Fellow is an incredible honor, and I want to thank the mentors in my life that have guided me to this point,” said Guta. “As a fellow, I hope to live out the Campus Compact mission by promoting civic engagement and social responsibility through my volunteer work with Operation Lighthouse. I am passionate about ending the acceptance of relationship violence, and I am excited to see how my time as a fellow will help me work towards this goal.”
Guta has received numerous awards and recognitions, including Stamps Foundation Leadership Scholar, Tift College Scholar, President’s List and Outstanding Junior in Psychology.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate and engage with such an extraordinary group of students,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “The stories of this year’s Newman Civic Fellows make clear that they are bringing people together in their communities to solve pressing problems. That is what Campus Compact is about, and it’s what our country and our world desperately need.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.
About Campus Compact
Campus Compact is a national coalition of 1000-plus colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Campus Compact supports institutions in fulfilling their public purposes by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. As the largest national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, we provide professional development to administrators and faculty to enable them to engage effectively, facilitate national partnerships connecting campuses with key issues in their local communities, build pilot programs to test and refine promising models in engaged teaching and scholarship, celebrate and cultivate student civic leadership, and convene higher education institutions and partners beyond higher education to share knowledge and develop collective capacity. Visit www.compact.org.