April 22, 2013

Hamline Student Wins Newman Civic Fellow Award

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Hamline University is honored to announce that Cristina Semi, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts, has been chosen as a 2013 Newman Civic Fellow Award recipient. 

The Newman Civic Fellows' program is presented by Campus Compact, a coalition of over 1200 college and university presidents across the United States dedicated to the promotion of campus-based civic engagement. Campus Compact recognizes student leaders who have proven their investment in finding solutions to challenges facing communities.

“These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders," Campus Compact President Maureen Curley said in a press release announcing the 2013 Fellows. "They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building stronger communities”

Semi, a native of River Falls, Wisconsin, is a legal studies major, a triple minor in communications, philosophy, and Russian studies, and is in the process of completing her paralegal certificate. In addition to this heavy academic schedule, Semi has served as chair of the College Democrats and was actively involved in Hamline's Undergraduate Conference on Race and Ethnicity

“As college students, I think it’s incredibly important for us to remain active in our communities so that our voice may be heard. We have so many ideas, so many insights, and one of the best ways to voice our opinions is to participate in civic engagement,” Semi said. “I feel very blessed to be a member of an outstanding generation--a generation of problem-solvers, a generation of changers. I feel very confident that we will accomplish so much, and really, we already have."
 

This is the third year of Newman Civic Fellowship program. Each year, Hamline University President Linda N. Hanson hand-picks an undergraduate student for nomination, and each year that student has been named to the Fellowship program; a demonstration of Hamline students’ strong commitment to community involvement and social justice. 

"Cristina embodies the very best of what Hamline strives for in nurturing our civic engagement and social justice-minded student leaders," President Hanson said. "She pursues her academic goals and her work on social issues with passion and excellence. I have no doubt she will enact much needed and important change in all the communities she touches."
 

Semi says she is proud to be part of a new community of Newman Civic Fellows who share her commitment and dedication.

"These folks really are so inspiring and driven, every one deserving of this honor," Semi said. "Overall, this has just been a very humbling experience, and it is such a testament to the fact that the true honor of this award is possible only by the coming together of communities to address issues and solve problems.” 

When asked what her most impactful civic engagement experience has been during her time at Hamline, Semi didn't hesitate in her answer.

“I don’t think that I would be where I am today without Hamline University Catalyst spring break service programs," Semi said. "My first year at Hamline was the first time I went on the Washington, D.C.: Homelessness in the Heart of Our Country Catalyst trip. I’ve gone on the trip every year since, and this year I was chosen as the student leader. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for issues surrounding homelessness, but the Catalyst trips allowed me to focus my passion and develop my motivation into action at Hamline. Simply said, Catalyst trips have changed my life.” 

Having a passion for working to improve the quality of our communities is not an uncommon trait for a Hamline student, though what drives them to have such dedication cannot easily be put into words. Semi believes she found the answer for her during a retreat she attended earlier this year.

"I met a man who, while talking about why he is so active in his field, simply stated, 'This is not activism; it’s doing what needs to be done.' I would like to say that that’s why I try to be as active as I can: because things just need to be done.”  

You can find out more about Campus Compact and the Newman Civic Fellows Award on their website