'My life's purpose'

BGSU junior Neiko Alvarado receives 2017 Newman Civic Fellowship for commitment to community

Neiko AlvaradoBowling Green State University junior Neiko Alvarado recently was named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact.

Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors are invited annually to nominate one community-committed student from their institution for the fellowship. These nominees are individuals who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country and abroad.

BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey nominated Alvarado for the fellowship.

An environmental policy and analysis major with a focus in sustainable management, Alvarado is a student leader and community organizer who addresses issues of reproductive and gender equity as well as racial and environmental justice.

“I believe that our words, our voices, are one of the strongest forces known to humankind,” said Alvarado, who is from Gibsonburg, Ohio. “Every person has a right to use that voice, to speak their truth and to be heard. This principle is what drives me to activism and social change.”

Alvarado’s leadership talent includes the skill and ability to teach others how to organize and overcome social injustices. Through his involvement on and off BGSU’s campus he has worked with his peers in various other social justice-oriented organizations to build strong coalitions such as Guerrilla Queers.

“I have carried out this goal by facilitating inclusive spaces on campus for students of color and queer students,” he said. “Although I think providing space for minority students is paramount, we must also ensure they feel safe in spaces that are not cultivated for them.”

He is currently working with his peers and the local community to provide free, safe transportation for students of color and LGBTQ+ individuals in order to reduce harassment and discrimination while promoting safety and prosperity for the entire community.

“Far too many students of color and queer students feel unsafe walking home alone at night in streets where many of their peers take for granted feeling safe and secure,” Alvarado said. “Big Gay Ride allows marginalized students to enjoy the same college experience as others without the fear of violence or harassment.”

Additionally, through his work as a member of the BGSU campus Student Green Initiatives Fund committee, he has been a student leader making budget allocation decisions regarding sustainable projects to help reduce the University’s environmental impact as an institution.

“Serving my community has been my greatest pride,” Alvarado said. “It has not only taught me how to be a leader, but compassion and humility for my fellow humans. I believe it is my life's purpose to uplift people's voices and ensure that our differences as humans of the world are not just tolerated, but celebrated.”

Campus Compact is a nonprofit organization based in Boston that works to advance the public purposes of higher education. There are 273 students who make up the organization’s 2017 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. The fellowship, named for the late Frank Newman, is a one-year fellowship for community-committed college students from Campus Compact member institutions.