Senior Reema Chande honored for commitment to solving public problems, named Newman Civic Fellow

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headshot of Reema Chande
Reema Chande. Photo by Leah Yetter

MACON – Mercer University rising senior Reema Chande has been named one of 142 student civic leaders from 38 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico, who will make up the 2024-2025 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a year-long program that recognizes and supports student public problem solvers at Campus Compact member institutions. Fellows are nominated by their president or chancellor based on their potential for public leadership and their work with communities. 

Mercer President William D. Underwood said in his nomination for the fellowship, “Reema has intentionally learned about the needs of her local community, as she understands the importance of developing reciprocal, ethical community partnerships.” 

Chande, a psychology and global health double-major from Sugar Hill, said her firsthand challenges with mental health care made her realize how deep the need for accessible, non-stigmatizing support is. 

“I honestly encourage anyone interested in addressing a specific local need to look into it or reach out if community mental health is a shared interest,” she said. “While Mercer students generally have a good pulse on the issues that face their community, it can still be challenging to translate that understanding into something sustainable and ethical, so I’m glad to have this additional support and mentorship.” 

Chande has completed mental health first aid certification, Narcan training and EMS clinical rotations and has been working with Macon Mental Health Matters, an organization exploring ways of providing consistent social support for new moms through community events while providing resources to educate and normalize discussions on postpartum mental health. She has also been involved with advocacy groups including Seats at the Table, 18byVote and NAMI Georgia, who all supported passing key mental health parity legislation in Georgia. 

She said her work in these areas, especially witnessing volunteers, physicians, policymakers and educators collaborate, has given her an appreciation for the civic engagement at the core of this fellowship.

“Reema cares passionately about mental health access, and she recognizes that many communities lack access to the resources necessary to address individual and community needs,” said Dr. David A. Davis, director of University Honors. “She has worked to be an advocate for mindfulness at Mercer and built durable bridges with the Macon community. Her project as a Newman Civic Fellow will enhance these programs.” 

At Mercer, Chande is a Stamps Scholar, is involved in Mercer Service Scholars as a part of the University Honors Program, the Student National Medical Association-Minority Association of Premed Students (SNMA-MAPS), Global Health in Action newsletter and Mindful Mercer. After graduating, Chande plans to study medicine and public health to “eventually work at the intersection of reproductive and mental healthcare.” 

The Newman Civic Fellowship provides students with learning and networking opportunities that help to nurture their development as civic leaders. Programming emphasizes personal, professional and civic growth that can empower them to collaborate effectively across disciplines and create large-scale positive change.

“We are so excited to welcome such an outstanding group of community-committed students to the fellowship,” said Campus Compact President Bobbie Laur. “These students are undaunted by the pressing challenges our communities face and bring such passion for making a difference. They truly are the leaders our society needs and are already catalysts for positive impact. We are privileged to be a part of their journey and to help empower them to create a more just and equitable future.”