Justin Pierre was recently named to the Newman Civic Fellowship for his community and academic work at Millersville. He is a senior at Millersville who will be graduating in May, and has done a lot to promote unity on campus.
He was nominated by president Anderson and by his advisor and mentor Dr. Adam Lawrence, who is the associate professor of government and political affairs. He said that he and Dr. Lawrence are very close and that he has taken every class that Lawrence has offered. “He’s been kind of secretly behind me in all of this experience I’ve had here at Millersville… through my tenure with senate [and] through some of the other fellowship opportunities I’ve had on this campus.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is an opportunity for students around the US to gain connections and better learn how to help their communities on a local, state, and national level. Students are nominated to the year-long fellowship by university presidents and chancellors, and there are 273 students in the cohort for 2017.
The students participate in different events throughout the year, in which “fellows have access to in-person and virtual learning opportunities, networking events, and mentoring,” says Campus Compact, the group responsible for the fellowship.
Justin seemed ecstatic yet very humble in why he thought he was nominated. “He’s [Dr. Lawrence] a very excellent mentor that I’ve been lucky to work with and he nominated me after seeing all these accomplishments that have been able to come my way over my time at Millersville. So it was really excellent to be nominated by him.”
When asked about the accomplishments that Dr. Lawrence recognized, Justin seemed hesitant to talk about his own successes, but then got really excited about how he had helped the community. One such achievement was his role in forming a funding block that covers the post-season expenses of MU’s athletics department. The bill was passed by Student Senate just over a year ago and still funds the department.
“That has been a major achievement, probably the one I’m the most proud of actually,” he said speaking on the bill.
Along with that achievement, Justin has contributed to Millersville in many other ways. He was an academic member of MU’s summer bridge program which helps students who just missed the admission standard to “catch up” and get ready to enroll in college.
He also helped Millersville’s food bank Campus Cupboard raise over $15,000 to help students make ends meet with their grocery bills. On top of that he helped set up an “ethernet drive” which distributed over 300 ethernet cables to help students in the south suite dorms get online when the wifi was “chronically failing.”
When asked about the goals he had for his time during the fellowship, Justin said “Well, for short term I would like to link up with some of the other recipients from the other campuses… to see what they’ve done, to see what I can adopt. And see the changes they’ve made in the community and see if we can bring them to Lancaster.”
“Long term goal: I would love to be able to channel this somehow into some potential employment in community serving and public activism… I do enjoy making a difference in my community and I’d love to be able to make my livelihood on that.”
The fellowship will have a two-day event in Boston next semester where all the recipients will be able to meet and network. Justin hopes to “do some major project coordination and think about how we can better our communities on a national level,” as well as learn about different strategies for community building and betterment.
When asked if he had any final remarks on his opportunity, Justin showed gratitude towards everyone that has helped him get to this point. He expressed thanks to Dr. Lawrence in particular, but was also very honored to be a part of something greater.
“I’m very appreciative to be the face of community betterment, but you don’t do it alone; it does take a village. It’s an honor for me to be able to represent that cause.”