No matter the circumstances of life, Adriana Zarate always knew she was going to college. Her parents almost mandated it.
"For them, it was our biggest goal," the University of North Georgia junior said. "They came to this country with very little education, so they wanted to make sure we had opportunities that they didn't."
Zarate is reaching those goals for her parents and herself as she pursues a degree in kinesiology with plans to become an occupational therapist. The 21-year-old Gainesville, resident also spreads the message about taking advantage of educational opportunities to new and potential UNG students through her work with orientation, the High School Equivalency Program, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and the Latino Student Association.
Based on her work and leadership, UNG Dean of Students Dr. Alyson Paul nominated Zarate for a Newman Civic Fellowship.
"It was unreal in the beginning," she said. "Then when I heard I was going to a conference to meet other individuals. That made it real."
Zarate is one of 262 students named to the 2019-2020 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. The one-year experience emphasizes personal, professional and civic growth for students who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and an investment in solving public problems.
Sponsored by Campus Compact, the fellowship provides learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. The fellowship also provides students with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
Paul said she nominated Zarate because she recognizes the impact and influence of her own Hispanic culture and background.
"Adriana exhibits an attitude of gratitude, but feels compelled to help others to remove barriers to their own success as well as to recognize their own potential," Paul said.
Zarate works to help her fellow students, especially first-generation students and those of Hispanic heritage, before they enroll and during their first few semesters. As an orientation leader for the past two years, she has been a voice of encouragement to struggling students.
"No one says college is easy," Zarate said. "But I tell them (incoming students) that people are here to mentor you and lead the way. I spread that message through the Latino Student Association and through the cultural connections that we share. I tell them, 'It's OK to ask for help.'"
For more information, visit the Newman Civic Fellowship website.