Inez Hill, a Fresno State junior, grew up in southwest Fresno and attended Edison Computech and Edison High School. That background helps inspire the service work she has done with young people in her community there.
“I’m a product of southwest Fresno and I still live there too, so it’s easy for me to go out there and do the work,” Hill said. “Mostly my volunteerism comes from where I come from and where I grew up and not having as many resources. I see that there is a lot to be done within the youth.”
Hill has worked with Fresno Street Saints, an organization that works to make southwest Fresno a safe and healthy community. She helped create the Resiliency, Aspiration, and Perseverance (R.A.P.) Program, which provided high school students with lunches, craft activities, projects design and workshops over summer break.
She also volunteered in Fresno Street Saints’ two-month leadership class where high school students developed plans for how they could take on a larger leadership role within their community.
“When you do the work and you really see that you’re not doing it just to fulfill a certain amount of hours or just to get through it, and you actually make a change through students or get feedback from those you’ve worked with, it means a lot,” Hill said. “Sometimes there are no words to describe it. I love it so much and doing it is just a passion for me.”
Her work on these projects didn’t go unnoticed. Each year, Campus Compact – a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education – honors college students, naming them Newman Civic Fellows. This year’s cohort will include Hill, a psychology major with a minor in public health.
“Through her relationships with various nonprofit organizations, Inez Hill has been able to promote the value of civic engagement, advocate for various social issues that impact students and serve community benefit organizations on a deeper level,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “She is an exceptional young person who has demonstrated a strong commitment to the community and engaging others in service.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional, and civic growth for students who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and an investment in solving public problems.
Hill is one of just four students in the 23-campus CSU system, and one of 262 nationwide to receive this honor.
She sees the work she has done in the southwest Fresno community as providing more opportunities for young people in southwest Fresno, including her younger sister and brother.
Hill also devoted time designing program curriculum for middle school students and spent time each week in the classroom discussing higher education with them through the Fresno State Pipeline Program.
Hill’s involvement as a Newman Civic Fellow will take place during the 2019-20 academic year, and will include a variety of learning and networking opportunities. Each year, fellows are invited to participate in a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in November in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
Taylan Bennett, special projects coordinator with the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, works closely with and is an adviser to Hill. Bennett recommended that Hill be considered for nomination.
“Since Inez joined the SERVE Committee, she has grown tremendously as a leader,” Bennett said. “She was already involved in her community, but this year has made a commitment to getting her peers on campus involved in their community as well…Inez takes initiative. She sees a way to help and is the first to jump in and offer assistance.”
Hill said her mom was proud of her receiving the honor, but also for the work she is doing in their community and during her time at Fresno State:
“My mom was really excited about it. She told me, ‘You’re doing more stuff than I did when I was in college. I was just more focused about making it through but you’re making a difference.’ That meant a lot to me for her to say that.”