Evan LeBeau, a Greenfield Community College and Northampton High School dual-enrolled student, has been awarded a prestigious 2021-22 Newman Civic Fellowship.
The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year experience for community-committed students that supports their personal, professional, and civic development. It is sponsored by Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities that advances the public purposes of these institutions by deepening their ability to improve community life and educate students for civic and social responsibility. Throughout the fellowship year, Campus Compact provides students with training and resources that nurture their assets and passions and help them develop strategies for social change. Fellows also work one-on-one with a mentor from their community; for LeBeau, this will be Nicole LaChapelle, the mayor of Easthampton.
LeBeau’s deep involvement in his community, dedication to education, and passion for helping others made him an ideal candidate for the Newman Fellowship. In his statement as a fellowship nominee, LeBeau wrote about the crucial role public education plays in our society and his appreciation of the advantages it has already provided him in his young life. “For any great society, the genuine bellwether is access to good quality education for everyone. If we forgo access to education for the members of this society, it will begin to crumble. In order to continue creating a critical thinking, communicative, open society, the people must be well educated to be engaged members,” he wrote.
In his short time at GCC, LeBeau has made a significant impression on the college’s leadership. “At the age of 17, Evan understands the concept that when we as a state fail to adequately fund our OPEN ACCESS public education institutions, we in effect perpetuate systemic racism and classism, leaving the social and economic consequences with our local communities,” said Coordinator of Student Activities & Community Service Mary McEntee. In nominating him, President Yves Salomon-Fernandez noted that he “embodies the skill, knowledge, and potential to effect deep and lasting social change on a local, state, and national level.”
LeBeau, a resident of Easthampton, is pursuing an associate in arts liberal arts degree while simultaneously completing his high school diploma. He will graduate from Northampton High School this spring and will complete his AA at GCC in the spring of 2022.
At GCC, LeBeau is the treasurer of the Student Senate, representative to the MA Student Advisory Council, and in June will begin a term as a student trustee. At Northampton High School, as co-chair of the NHS Democrats, he has been organizing a speaker series with U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern, gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing, Northampton’s mayoral candidates, and members of the Northampton City Council. Last summer, LeBeau was a field fellow for Senator Ed Markey’s campaign, organizing volunteers across Hampshire County.
As a member of the NHS IT Pathways program, LeBeau helped run the school’s IT helpdesk and edited their website. This led to an internship for the City of Northampton as a system analyst where he assisted in the setup and replacement of their computer and telecommunication network. He also worked as a youth enrichment teacher for three years, teaching chess to Northampton elementary school students. Over the summer, Evan will develop a curriculum to teach civic lessons to elementary school students in Greenfield next fall. LeBeau has also been a Boy Scout for seven years and this spring, he will build bog bridges for Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton for his Eagle Scout project.
When he completes his AA, LeBeau plans to transfer to UMass Amherst to pursue an undergraduate degree in political science and eventually a master’s in public policy and administration.
“I was very excited,” LeBeau said about learning he had earned the fellowship. “I felt fortunate and that I was being seen on campus and that my actions were being recognized.” During the fellowship year, which will begin in April, LeBeau is looking forward to meeting like-minded civically engaged college students from all across the country, as well as building the knowledge and skills that will help him become a more effective leader and member of the community.