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Communication major named Newman Civic Fellow

March 15, 2021

After working for eight months on the application for the nationally competitive Harry S. Truman Scholarship, University of North Georgia (UNG) student Justin Bray wasn't ready to apply for another. But he did thanks to a little encouragement.

"The Newman Civic Fellowship application was a breeze compared to the Truman," said the junior pursuing a degree in communication with a concentration in public relations.

Bray was glad he applied, as was Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president of research and engagement at UNG. Bray was selected by Campus Compact as UNG's Newman Civic Fellow.

"Justin demonstrated great resilience in applying for multiple awards in a single year," she said. "I'm pleased his outstanding service work and potential to be a change agent was recognized."

Bray is one of 212 students from 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico in the 2021-22 academic cohort. Only three other fellows are from Georgia higher education institutions, including Georgia College and State University, Mercer University and Spelman College.

"It was super exciting to get that email from Campus Compact," said the 31-year-old from Athens, Georgia. "Getting this one felt good."

Campus Compact member institutions select the fellows who are community-minded student leaders on their campuses and demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally and internationally. The Newman Civic Fellowship is a yearlong program named in honor of Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact's founders.

Dr. Leigh Dillard, associate professor of English who nominated Bray as UNG's Newman Civic Fellow, said he fits the requirements.

"Justin has a heart for service and community involvement," Dillard said. "The Newman program will allow him to further develop the skills he needs for the next phase of his career."

Bray looks forward to joining forces with other college students with a similar mindset of community and civic service. He said he has already joined a social media platform to meet other Newman Civic Fellows.

"It's exciting to have 211 other people who all know we have things in common," Bray said. "And it's a really great way to pick other people's brains."

He explained being in a community with like-minded people will help him stay on track, too.

"I am someone who dreams a lot and romanticizes careers and their paths," he said. "In that dreaming, I don't pay attention to the path to get me to that point. I think this experience will help me build that path and stay focused, because I will do workshops and seminars and stay connected to people who are doing the same thing."

Bray, who works full time as program manager at Books for Keeps, hopes his path will lead him to graduate school. Books for Keeps is an Athens, Georgia-based nonprofit that donates books to children from low-income families in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

"I am interested in public administration," he said. "I think I would like to work with kids in a nonprofit, work in a political office or lobby for change in public administration."

In the meantime, Bray is working to complete his bachelor's degree at UNG. He plans to graduate in spring or summer 2022.

Since 2013, nine UNG students have been Newman Civic Fellows. Previous recipients include Courtney Mitchell in 2013, Jessica Murray in 2014, Rachel Glazer in 2015, John Blessing in 2016, Cristian Ramos in 2017, Brittaney Dyer in 2018, Adriana Zarate in 2019, and Kat Torres in 2020,

For more information, visit the Newman Civic Fellowship website.

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