Upon arriving on campus in August, freshman Kenneth Brown Jr. immediately got involved in the Elon University community as a class president and volunteer. His service efforts did not go unnoticed, as he was recently named a 2016 Newman Civic Fellow.
The award is presented by Campus Compact, an organization that comprises more than 1,100 colleges and universities dedicated to campus-based civic engagement, according to its website.
As a Watson and Odyssey Scholar, Brown volunteers at the Burlington Housing Authority each week, helping and mentoring children.
“I get to be an older figure that little kids can look up to that’s not just an adult — someone closer to their age that can understand where they’re coming from,” he said.
Jon Dooley, assistant vice president for Student Life and dean of Campus Life, said only one student per university can be nominated for the prestigious award.
“The Newman Civic Fellows Award recognizes student leaders who take action in pursuit of long-term positive social change, inspire and engage others and demonstrate the motivation and potential for effective long-term civic engagement,” Dooley said.
Brown was approached by Elon’s Council on Civic Engagement, who decided to nominate him for the award. Dooley said they were looking for student leaders on Elon’s campus who are motivated to make positive change or have already begun doing so.
Brown is involved with the Black Student Union, Elon Local News and SGA, for which he currently serves as the Class of 2019’s president and will continue his term sophomore year.
“I wanted to be involved with SGA by making progress and change on campus,” Brown said. “I thought it would be cool to be in the room for those conversations and plan different things on campus.”
In August, Brown put himself out there and actively sought out 150 members of the student body. Those who signed his petition were willing to support him in his campaign.
Brown’s roommate, freshman Kyle Albertelli, said Brown was successful in winning the Class of 2019 SGA election because of how genuine he is.
“From the first day of college that I met Ken, I can honestly say he’s one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I know,” Albertelli said. “He puts others before himself and he focuses on issues that affect everyone as a whole and wants to find meaningful solutions to these issues.”
As the Class of 2019 president, Brown is the voice of the freshman class.
“I want to make [sure] that we are not just a class, but that we are present in doing something to make our campus a better place,” Brown said.
In addition to his involvement on campus, Brown has also reached out to the greater Elon area through community service.
Brown’s future plans include working with a nonprofit education program, going to graduate school to complete a master’s degree, or doing work in civic engagement before running for political office.
Whatever his future may entail, he strives to make a difference in his community.
At the 10th annual Call to Honor ceremony Sept. 10, 2015, Brown spoke to the Class of 2019 about respect for the greater community.
“Our commitment to respect goes beyond the walls of Elon,” Brown said. “As members of a broader society and global community, we are committed to respecting human differences and must be motivated by concern for the common good.”
Growing up, Brown encountered some rough patches, but through those hard times, people were willing to help him and his family.
Now, Brown wants to help others.
“There’s a chance to get to know people and feel for the situations and trials that they’re going through,” he said. “It’s allowing me to give back and help, so I can show people there’s still light in the world and there’s still hope, and to keep fighting until you can’t fight anymore.”