A national organization committed to advancing community service in higher education has recognized Ithaca College junior Elena Haskins as a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow. A cinema and photography major, Haskins is among a select group of 273 college students honored by Campus Compact for taking action in pursuit of long-term social change as well as engaging and inspiring others in their communities.
“The cultivation of community-committed leaders has never been more crucial,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “Our country needs more people who know how to bring communities together for positive change.”
For the past two years, Haskins has been the leader of the student organization HEARD (Human Expression through the Arts: Resident Development Program), which brings a variety of visual and performing arts groups from Ithaca College to the MacCormick Secure Center in nearby Brooktondale, N.Y.
MacCormick houses more than 100 incarcerated males ages 14–20. HEARD has brought to the youth at the center performing artists in such areas as beat boxing, painting, poetry, dance and African drumming. Haskins says she is proud to be doing her part to give the residents an opportunity to create their own individual identities and stories, rather than be just a statistic.
“The United States has the largest incarceration rate in the world,” notes Haskins. “This is perpetuated by the lack of support for re-entry into society, as well as for emotional and intellectual stimulation during time in incarceration. By providing and facilitating arts education and social rehabilitation for the residents, it allows for personal and social development. Creative arts also allows the residents to express themselves and have a safe space to put their thoughts and feelings into something tangible.”
Ithaca College President Tom Rochon nominated Haskins for the honor, calling her a natural leader with a high level of energy and integrity, intense curiosity about the world and a strong sense of social justice.
“She is one of those people who commits her time to important projects on and off campus, and serves as a high-impact leader in many of those engagements,” Rochon wrote in his nominating letter. “She is truly exceptional in the strength of her drive to make a difference. Elena has been instrumental in recruiting volunteers to join and help lead the program, as well as in reaching out to staff, faculty and student groups… Most importantly, she has empowered other students to take ownership of HEARD.”
In addition to her work with HEARD, Haskins has been a Student Leadership Consultant with the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs, Peer Career Advisor for Career Services, tutor for the Ithaca Youth Bureau, graphic designer for Cayuga Dog Rescue and volunteer with the SPCA of Tompkins County.
This is the sixth straight year that an Ithaca College student has been named a Newman Civic Fellow. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
Campus Compact is a nonprofit national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation, the fellowship honors the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders and a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. For more information, visit www.compact.org.