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Bethel Student Receives Newman Civic Fellowship through MN Campus Compact

Bethel Student Receives Newman Civic Fellowship through MN Campus Compact

Tazrae Song’Ony ’19 was one of 12 recipients of the Newman Civic Fellowship, honoring students who are committed to community and collaborate with others to make social change.

Each year, Minnesota Campus Compact recognizes students who stand out as civic leaders within their communities with the Newman Civic Fellowship. This year, Tazrae Song’Ony ’19 was one of them.

When Song’Ony left her hometown of Kansas City to attend Bethel, she was looking for a home away from home. She found it during her time working with Bethel’s Frogtown/Summit-University (FSU) partnership, and ever since, she has actively sought ways to be involved in her newfound community. By working with community-building organizations such as Urban Farm and Garden Alliance and Reconnect Rondo, she has become deeply involved with creating community gardens as a way to get fresh produce to food desert areas within low-income communities.

“She has helped us achieve our mission by working with community organizations… through giving of her time and expertise to assist them in the work that they are doing,” says Associate Director of Community Engagement Tanden Brekke of Song’Ony’s involvement in the FSU community.

Brekke and Bethel University President Jay Barnes nominated Song’Ony for the Newman Civic Fellowship and she is one of only 12 recipients. Minnesota Campus Compact’s mission is to support civic engagement on college campuses throughout the state. Each year, the organization recognizes students who stand out as civic leaders within their communities. One way they do this is through the Newman Civic Fellowship, which honors students who are committed to community and collaborate with others to make social change.

What motivates Song’Ony to do this work? “I don’t think I have a choice not to do something to make change,” Song’Ony says. She describes herself as a spiritual being who desires to see change in the world around her—in fact, she says her role as a change-maker has “never [been] a question—it’s a calling.”

“I wish the award could go to all the mentors and friends who have invested in me and enabled me to participate in the work that I do. I could not have done it on my own.” As for what’s next, Song’Ony says, “Just learning and growing. Always.”

Others connected to Bethel who were honored by Campus Compact at this year’s summit and awards luncheon, in addition to the descriptions of their accomplishments as provided by the program from the event, are as follows:

  • Caissa Dieatrick ’18, elementary education, Presidents’ Student Leadership Award: “Caissa has demonstrated a commitment to community service through working at several community organizations while living in the FSU neighborhood. She has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to listening and relationship building. She is vigilant in addressing issues of injustice and advocating for marginalized groups and individuals.”
  • Camphor Memorial United Methodist, Presidents’ Community Partner Award: “Through the leadership of Rev. Gloria Roach Thomas, Camphor UMC has hosted a office for Bethel University for the last two and a half years. This office provides a valuable space for hundreds of students to learn from the rich knowledge of the FSU neighborhoods and develop collaborative projects between Bethel and FSU”
  • Associate Professor of Communication Studies Artie Terry, Presidents’ Civic Engagement Steward Award: “Bethel Communication Studies professor Artie Terry guided Bethel film students through designing, filming and editing short films that highlight the beautiful work of community organizations. Bethel students worked with two community organizations to tell the stories of how these organizations are working on issues of food justice and youth development.” 

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