Brittany Johnk, a West Virginia Wesleyan College student from Parkersburg, recently was named a 2013 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact.
Newman Civic Fellows are recommended by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership.
Johnk, a junior English literature and sociology major and education and honors minor, is committed to education and social justice issues locally, nationally and internationally. As a WE LEAD peer council member through the Center for Community Engagement & Leadership Development, Johnk has coordinated projects resulting in more than 3,000 nonperishable items being collected for local food pantries, as well as raising awareness of food insecurity both in Upshur County and abroad by leading a hunger banquet with more than 100 student attendees in her sophomore year.
When Johnk learned of the local high school dropout rate, she decided to take action by beginning a mentoring program at the middle school entitled DO IT (Decisions & Opportunities Impact Tomorrow). She built a relationship with the administration at the middle school, recruited and trained college mentors, and reached out to parents of identified at-risk youth.
"Brittany is an exceptional student leader who has combined her passion for helping others and leadership skills to great outcomes in the community," said Katie Loudin, coordinator of outreach and leadership development. "I know Brittany will lead an extraordinary life as a force for positive social change, transforming the lives of all who know her."
Johnk is a student coordinator of WE LEAD, is a member of the Wesleyan Service Scholars program and has held several key positions in her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. She volunteered at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School through its afterschool program, Project ISAAC, as a Wesleyan Service Scholar her freshman year.
After joining WE LEAD in her sophomore year and growing her leadership skills, she has become a remarkable young change agent in her junior year. She is someone who lives Wesleyan's mission to "demonstrate local and world citizenship through service."
"During my time at Wesleyan, I have gained a deeper understanding of service, leadership and myself," Johnk said. "My involvement with the CCE provides me with opportunities to address social issues while developing leadership skills and gaining valuable experiences. I am honored to be selected as a Newman Civic Fellow, and I know I would not have received this award were it not for the growth and knowledge I have experienced through my campus involvement. The faculty and staff have supported me in my efforts to strive for social justice as well as in my personal development. I am grateful for their commitment to my education, my efforts and me, as an individual."
The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Through service, research and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change. These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders.
Newman Civic Fellows awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform. Newman's leadership was selfless, optimistic and determined, spanning an incredible career of more than five decades. At the core of Newman's leadership was a belief in the power of individuals to make a difference and in the power of connection with others.