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WVU student to work toward educational equity as Newman Civic Fellow

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Giana Loretta, an Honors junior triple-majoring in political science, philosophy and communication studies, is WVU's next Newman Civic Fellow.

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A West Virginia University student who witnessed under-resourcing within her public school district growing up in central West Virginia will seek solutions to these issues as the University’s next Newman Civic Fellow.

Giana Loretta, an Honors junior triple-majoring in political science, philosophy and communication studies, believes in the power of both policy and direct action. Her two-pronged project will combine policy analysis with working to provide direct resources and support for students and schools in need.

Loretta, who is passionate about equity in K-12 schools, saw educational inequity in her own experiences from an early age, noting how the unequal distribution of resources led to unequal access to opportunities and a widening achievement gap. Loretta plans to use her fellowship to advocate for education policy change. First, she plans to produce a comprehensive policy analysis around the issue of school choice. Through a formal presentation of her findings, she will provide lawmakers at the state and county level with potential remedies to educational inequities.

“As West Virginia fosters the growth of school choice, it’s imperative to understand how these policies will impact educational outcomes and ensure that they promote equity and achievement for all students,” Loretta said.

She also plans to publish her research findings in WVU’s student-led undergraduate research journal, the Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review.  

Loretta will also work to impact students directly, providing support to disadvantaged schools in the state through student mentorship and informational presentations on successfully applying to college and scholarships. She will do this leveraging her role as president of Mountaineer Mentors, a student organization that works to improve discrepancies in opportunities in higher education for West Virginia high school students.

For both aspects of her project, she will be mentored by Herschel Thomas, assistant professor of political science. Thomas is also serving as her mentor in her Honors EXCEL project, which helped provide the foundation for her Newman Civic Fellowship project.

This project is a natural next step for Loretta, who has been involved in political science research at WVU from her time with the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, to her more recent work researching how adolescents are screened and treated for opioid use. She is also heavily involved on campus, working as an intern for the West Virginia Innocence Project at the WVU College of Law, as a student ambassador and former New Student Orientation leader with WVU Admissions, a WVU Presidential Student Ambassador, a volunteer with the nonprofit Girls on the Run, and a volunteer English as a Second Language tutor for recent immigrants in the Morgantown community. She also serves as community service chair for the WVU junior honorary, Chimes.

“Giana is a dedicated, responsible and whip-smart young woman and has proven herself to be an ideal candidate for the Newman Civic Fellowship. Her passion for advancing educational opportunities in West Virginia serves to address a critical issue in our state and we are proud she is doing this work as a Mountaineer,” WVU President Gordon Gee said.

Campus Compact has named 173 student civic leaders to the 2022-2023 Newman Civic Fellows class, including students from 38 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico.

“We are proud to name such an outstanding and diverse group of students Newman Civic Fellows,” Bobbie Laur, Campus Compact president, said. “Their passion and resolve to take action on the wide range of issues challenging our neighborhoods and communities is inspiring and deeply needed. We cannot wait to engage with them through this transformative experience.”

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. Through the fellowship, which is named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities. The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

Students who are interested in applying for this or other nationally competitive scholarships can email for an appointment.



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