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Giers wins Newman Civic Fellowship

Gabie Giers ’23, a sustainability science major from Clover, South Carolina, has been named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based organization that helps universities improve community life and educate students for civic and social responsibility.

The fellowship provides Giers a year of training and networking opportunities to build personal and professional skills aimed at helping students make a difference in their communities. In addition, fellows are invited to a two-day national conference where they can learn more professional skills and get to know other fellows. The fellowship also provides pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

Giers said she is “passionate about social justice and building a more sustainable future.” She is currently in San Jose, Costa Rica, at a study away program that emphasizes sustainable science and social justice. In addition to her studies, she works with a local school where students garden. Twice a week she works in the garden with the students, and talks with them about sustainability.

Giers has first-hand experience working with communities that are most susceptible to sustainability because of policies and traditional practices.

As a member of the Shucker Leadership Institute in 2020, Giers came face to face with poverty by working with children who were homeless at the Happy Hearts Community Center in the New Washington Heights neighborhood of Greenville. She also applied for and won a $10,000 grant from Projects for Peace to create an art curriculum at Poe Mill Achievement Center, an after-school and summer program, focused on restorative justice.

She’s also witnessed the hurdles that immigrants face, the dismissive looks and belittling comments. Her mother is from Brazil, and has a dark complexion and an accent.

“I grew up hearing terrible things,” Giers said. “People treat immigrants as less than people. It’s been very frustrating.”

Giers has a “passion for wanting to do what I can to hold companies and governments responsible. We need to uplift these communities so they can receive the justice they deserve and gain access to a better quality of life that those in privileged positions receive. If we don’t choose to address these issues, especially environmental ones, all of us will eventually be negatively affected and we will no longer have the privilege to ignore the reality of these consequences.”

In her personal statement for the fellowship, Giers wrote, “My education and various opportunities through Furman have exposed me to realities that greatly differ from my own and I have walked away from these experiences with a more inclusive perspective and greater understanding of social issues, as well as an increased openness to continue challenging and developing any beliefs and values I may hold.”

The Newman Civic fellowship is named in honor of Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, and is supported by the KPMG Foundation.

Last updated August 5, 2022
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Clinton Colmenares
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