WESTVILLE – Purdue University Northwest student Erin Provenzano recently took part in the Campus Compact national convening of the 2016 Newman Civic Fellows in Boston, a gathering of university students from across the country who earned the Newman Civic Fellow distinction for their campus and community engagement.
Provenzano, an early childhood education major at the PNW Westville Campus and a Valparaiso resident, explained that the gathering brought Newman Civic Fellows together to “discuss our work and efforts in our communities. I gained valuable insights from my peers who are advocating for social issues on a grassroots level. This was an opportunity to meet and network with others who are passionate about making positive change.”
Newman Civic Fellow awards are made in memory of Dr. Frank Newman who was a founder of Campus Compact, the only national higher education association dedicated to campus-based civic engagement, developing student citizenship skills and forging community partnerships. Newman believed in the power of individuals to make a difference and in the power of connection with others.
A learning opportunity
According to Provenzano, the fellows participated in a mock senate, learning how bills are passed. “This enhanced our understanding of how the process works to help us implement change on a larger scale. I’ve always been interested in policy, and this opportunity allows me to continue to advocate for people and issues I am passionate about, including education policy and English Language Learners and their families.”
Engaged in campus and community activities
A mother of four, Provenzano anticipates earning her degree in May. She has a degree in social work and worked in the field before redirecting her career. She is a member of the Westville Campus Teachers Networking with Teachers group, Kappa Delta Pi education honor society and a service learning mentor to early childhood education students.
Off-campus, she serves on her church’s Congregation Council, teaches Sunday School and coordinates the infant through 3-year-old children’s program. She is the Parent Teacher League vice-president and assists with One for Everyone, a local organization dedicated to creating accessible playgrounds for other-abled children.
Provenzano volunteers with Compass International, mentoring immigrant families to ensure that children have a strong support system. She worked with fellow early childhood education students and the Compass International Family Center in Valparaiso to develop and create “literacy backpacks” filled with bilingual picture books, games, and resources for families.
“I look forward to the opportunity to teach young minds,” she said. “I am passionate about education and the impact teachers can have on the lives of children. I am interested in policy and curriculum and hope to pursue a master's degree in education, focusing on these areas.”
PNW Newman Scholars
The Westville campus has had a succession of students honored as Newman Civic Fellows in recent years, including Victoria DeMan, of Valparaiso, in 2015; Matthew Migliorini, of Sullivan, in 2014; Greg Mohlke of Wanatah, in 2013; Katheryn “Katie” Hines, of Valparaiso, in 2012; and Amy Boren, of Chesterton, in 2011.