Sam Jacobs in mask standing outside next to GVSU Votes sign and wearing the same t-shirt, with GVSU Votes!

Public administration junior selected for national civic engagement fellowship

Sam Jacobs, a junior majoring in public administration, was named to the 2021 class of Newman Civic Fellows, an initiative of Campus Compact, which is a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education.

Jacobs was nominated for the fellowship by President Philomena V. Mantella, who recognized Jacobs' dedication to educating students about voting during the 2020 presidential election. In a nomination letter, Mantella said Jacobs exemplifies the work of a Newman Civic Fellow "through his dedication to creating impactful social change at GVSU and beyond."

"As a member of a team of students dedicated to informing the campus community on the importance of voting, Sam pushed to highlight the reasons why democracy and civic engagement are such important components of active citizenship," Mantella wrote.

Jacobs, a native of Otsego, said encouraging students to vote became a passion of his as an effort to "help make the campus community a more positive place."

"Voting is essential to the betterment of a community because it is the main process by which citizens can use their voice," he said. "I believe I have helped make a difference through the work that I have helped lead on campus."

Through his involvement with the nonprofit organization Campus Election Engagement Project, Jacobs spoke with celebrity Selena Gomez during a voter registration event. "That was an amazing opportunity," Jacobs said.

Travus Burton, director for civic learning and community engagement, said Jacobs is the first Grand Valley student to serve as a Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow. Each Campus Compact member institution has an opportunity to nominate a student. 

"We currently have a tremendous level of support and passion for civic education at GVSU among students, staff and faculty, and Sam embodies this during a critical time when it is needed more than ever," Burton said.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a year-long program for students from Campus Compact member institutions. Jacobs will join 200 other students for learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional and civic growth.