Bryant student Melissa Gurzenda ’21 has been named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact. A yearlong program, the fellowship provides students devoted to helping others with training and resources that nurture their talents and passions and help them develop strategies for social change.
Students selected for the fellowship are leaders on their campuses who are committed to finding solutions for local, national, and international challenges. “All of us at Bryant University are thrilled that Melissa was selected for this honor, and that she will use this opportunity to inspire others,” says Bryant’s Chief Academic Officer, Provost Glenn M. Sulmasy, JD, LLM. “She embodies Bryant students’ drive to excel and make a difference.”
A record of service
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to represent Bryant University in this program,” says Gurzenda. “Having the opportunity to network with like-minded students from diverse demographics will allow me to explore new areas of leadership and service, which I can then bring back to my own community.”
On campus and off, Gurzenda, a Team and Project Management and Management: Leadership and Innovation double major, is known for her efforts to empower others. In her freshman year at Bryant, she spoke at the University’s inaugural TEDx event and launched her own business, Identified Grace, to "influence, motivate, and mentor individuals of all ages,” and to help them identify their purpose as confident passionate leaders.
“We don’t fully know ourselves until we’ve worked with other outstanding people and communities.”
As a sophomore, she was Lead Organizer for the 2019 Bryant University Northeast Entrepreneurship Conference (BUNEEC). A student-run event sponsored by Bryant’s chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, BUNEEC encourages students of all majors to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and make an impact.
In February 2020, as President of Bryant’s Community Activism Leadership Organization, which promotes sustainability, diversity, and service, Gurzenda organized the group’s first conference under the banner “A better you is a better world.” The conference included a keynote address by Andrew Shue of Do Something and Cafe Media, interactive activities promoting diversity and inclusion, a sustainability panel, and a socially responsible pop-up shop.
Making an impact on society
As Newman Fellows, students have a variety of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional, and civic growth. Each year, fellows are invited to a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows and participate in numerous virtual training and networking opportunities. The fellowship also provides fellows with ways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
“As college students get involved and work together, they learn the power of going beyond their comfort zone,” Gurzenda notes. “We don’t fully know ourselves until we’ve worked with other outstanding people and communities, and picked up new skills for our personal and professional growth. Those experiences help give us a better understanding of our purpose and the impact we can have on society.”
The Newman Civic fellowship is named for the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, who was a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education. In the spirit of Newman’s leadership, Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors may nominate one student from their institution for the fellowship