Evan McKenna

2020-2021 Cohort of Newman Civic Fellows

evan mckenna
Evan McKenna, a second-year student at the University of Notre Dame, was nominated by President John Jenkins.

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are changemakers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact partner institutions. Fellows are nominated by their president or chancellor on the basis of their potential for public leadership.

Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides students with training and resources that nurture their assets and passions and help them develop strategies for social change. The year-long program, named for Campus Compact founder Frank Newman, includes virtual learning opportunities and networking as part of a national network of engaged student leaders and an optional in-person convening.

Evan has demonstrated a deep commitment for education and community-building on and off-campus. Evan’s compassion, empathy, and dedication stand out to those around him, and he tutors local elementary school students on reading. After observing unhealthy behaviors among those he tutored, Evan has also become active in a conflict resolution program that provides students with positive alternatives to violence. Evan is also a leader among his peers, working to facilitate community volunteer opportunities with other Notre Dame students. He has helped reduce transportation barriers, fostered community building, and built opportunities for others. Evan is a proven advocate for social change, and he has addressed county commissioners in Tennessee to advocate for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community. In addition, he has been active in providing resources and support for children affected by immigration raids. Evan is not only a student committed to social change, but he is also a student unafraid to lead and use his voice to advocate for those who need it most.

PERSONAL STATEMENT

I am a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame studying Psychology and English. Growing up in a small town in Appalachia where education was constantly ignored and devalued, I quickly realized the power of a great education — and the dangers of a poor one. A captain of my Speech and Debate team in high school, I exercised my advocacy often, writing and performing speeches for community leaders on a variety of human rights issues including LGBTQ+ equality, the mental health epidemic in U.S. prisons, immigration justice, and education reform. I strive to walk the walk as well, often organizing groups of activists when such rights are jeopardized. I believe that education is our greatest asset, the fundamental solution to deep-rooted systems of inequity and oppression. My leadership at Notre Dame reflects these beliefs — I am active at the Notre Dame Center for Civic Innovation, serving brilliant but underprivileged students in South Bend; I visit elementary schools and teach children bullying and violence prevention strategies; I also hope to launch Speech, Debate, and public speaking programs across local schools, so that students may discover the life-changing intersection of advocacy and education.

Evan McKenna
Psychology and English: Class of 2022
written 2020