Politics and rhetoric studies major Cameron Conner '20 has received a Newman Civic Fellowship from Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit working to advance the public purposes of higher education. He is one of just 262 college students to be accepted into the 2019-2020 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows.
"I am incredibly honored to have been chosen as Whitman's Newman Civic Fellow," he said. "It represents a truly inspiring opportunity to work with peers from around the country who are passionate about social justice and systemic change. I came into this life already vested with more opportunities than many others, so I hope to dedicate my work in this program to ensuring that others have greater opportunity as well."
The yearlong fellowship emphasizes personal, professional and civic growth for students who have already demonstrated a capacity for leadership and large-scale problem-solving. In addition to training and resources, Campus Compact provides significant learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
A committed social entrepreneur, Conner co-founded Conscious Connections Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that responds to healthcare, education and infrastructure needs in Nepal. In addition to spending a gap year there in 2015 following the nation's devastating earthquake, he has traveled to Nepal nine times with his parents, who operate a fair-trade import business in Spokane.
Locally, he participates in community-based efforts to promote voter registration, improve civil rights education in public schools and encourage inclusive conversations on campus through his role as a resident adviser. He further translated his academic background into action as a presenter at both the prestigious Whitman Undergraduate Conference and social justice-themed Power & Privilege Symposium.
"Cameron embraces both the 'life of the mind' and the civic engagement that Whitman hopes are values and approaches to life that our students and alumni will carry forth into the world," wrote President Kathleen Murray in her nomination letter. "His poise, charisma and personal narrative are unique, as is the impact he is capable of having here at Whitman, in Walla Walla, in the nation and around the globe."