La Salle student Daniel Bowers was so shocked after reading an e-mail informing him he’d been named a Newman Civic Fellow that he thought it wasn’t true. “It wasn’t until I had tons of different people—peers, professors, faculty, and staff, some of whom I didn’t even know—come up to me and congratulate me that I knew it was real,” Bowers said. “I really was in shock that I, of all people, would be rewarded for something I really love to do.”
What Bowers loves to do is serve his community, whether through outreach in La Salle’s neighborhood or service trips to Central America and the Caribbean.
The designation of Newman Civic Fellow is presented to inspiring college student leaders who have worked to find solutions for challenges facing their communities. Presented by Campus Compact, only 181 students nationwide were selected for 2013.
“I truly feel blessed to have won this award, and it means so much to me,” said Bowers, a Northeast Philadelphia native and a junior secondary education and mathematics major. “Service is who I am, and this award shows how dedicated I am to the betterment of not only our local community but also our global community.”
Bowers, who received a Community Service Scholarship to attend La Salle, coordinates the AIDS Outreach program on campus, visiting Calcutta House, an AIDS hospice, three times a week.
“All the residents there live below the poverty line, and we go there to hang out, talk to them, play games with them, and watch TV with them,” Bowers said. “Once a month, we take the residents on a ‘buddy trip’ to somewhere in the city.”
For spring break in March, Bowers coordinated a service trip for La Salle students to the Dominican Republic to build a home for a family. “More importantly, we gave the family hope,” he said. Bowers participated in a service trip there last year, and during the summer after his freshman year, he went on a service trip to Guatemala.
He also assists students who need help with their lessons at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School.
While he was a student at La Salle College High School, Bowers tutored Philadelphia schoolchildren at the Providence Center, a program run by the Sisters of the Holy Child at Julia De Burgos School, a K–8 charter school in Philadelphia’s Kensington section.
Bowers’ parish, Presentation B.V.M. in Cheltenham, did not have a Catholic Youth Organization program for high school students, so he joined one at a neighboring parish, St. Cecilia’s in Philadelphia’s Fox Chase section. There, he helped deliver meals homebound, disabled, and elderly parishioners, organized a prom for the parish’s senior citizens, delivered Easter flowers to families who had lost a loved one, performed in the parish’s Passion play, and participated in three service trips to Appalachia.
“The three years I went to Appalachia changed my life, and I knew if I had the chance to do that at La Salle, then this was the right place for me,” Bowers said.
“By doing service, I have grown so much as a person and realized what truly is important in life,” he added. “It defines who I am. I’m known on campus as the ‘service kid.’ I will do anything for anyone, and I can’t say no. One of my goals in life is to make at least one person smile every day, and it is through service that I accomplish that. Every little bit counts, and I feel like if I can help as much as I can, then it is making our world that much better.”
This is the second consecutive year that a La Salle student has been named a Newman Civic Fellow. Emily Plummer, a communication major from Tampa, Fla., received the honor in 2012.
Newman Civic Fellow awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, Ph.D., a co-founder of Campus Compact, which seeks to foster students’ involvement in public service and as democratic change-agents. Campus Compact has grown to represent more than 1,100 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. The Newman Civic Fellow awards are made possible through the generous support of the KPMG Foundation.