Knight Named 2018 Newman Fellow
May 26, 2018
By Audrey St. Clair ’03
The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. The one-year fellowship provides training and resources that nurture students’ passions to help them develop strategies to achieve social change, preparing them for the long-term work of public problem solving and building equitable communities.
“I am extremely honored to have received the Newman fellowship, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Rollins faculty and staff, who have allowed me to grow as a leader through the Bonner Program and Democracy Project,” says Knight. “I hope this fellowship enables me to further develop my leadership abilities and connect with others passionate about making the world a better place.”
Newman Civic Fellows are nominated by college and university presidents and chancellors to acknowledge motivation and potential in public leadership.
“Skylar’s empathetic example of selfless service has helped others mobilize their dreams,” wrote Rollins President Grant Cornwell in his nomination letter. “As a member of our Bonner Leaders Program, Skylar has demonstrated his dedication to social justice, diversity, community building, spiritual exploration, civic engagement, and international perspective through his work with children experiencing physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges.”
Whether it’s working with children with motor disabilities at the Conductive Education Center of Orlando (CECO), coaching football to young adults with intellectual disabilities at the Special Olympics, or engaging with Rollins students in the democratic process, Knight’s goal is always to help others help themselves.
“Through my experiences with the Democracy Project and Bonner, I have learned that being a leader is about empowering others,” says Knight. “Having faced overwhelming adversity throughout my life, I have made it my personal mission to create positive change by advocating for oft-invisible communities that do not always have a voice.”
Knight’s fellowship will focus primarily on how colleges and universities can better engage the campus community in the political process by registering students, faculty, and staff to vote and incorporating civics into the institutions’ academic curricula.
As student coordinator of the Democracy Project, Knight has helped give Rollins students an informed voice and has provided them with educational platforms to openly discuss contemporary issues.
“I plan to utilize my story as a means by which I can promote diverse and inclusive leadership in hopes that others with their own impediments—whether it’s disabilities, refugee status, poverty, voter disenfranchisement—are driven to succeed, initiate change, and accomplish the unthinkable,” says Knight, who plans to get a master’s degree in public administration following his fellowship year. Knight’s ultimate goal is to work with a supranational organization like the EU or UN that allows him to combine his interest in politics, love of travel, and passion for service.
Knight is the fifth Rollins student to earn a Newman Civic Fellowship. Meredith Ewen ’19, Arden Baxter ’18, Raul Carril ’14 ’16MBA, and Brock Monroe ’14 also previously received the award.
A Campus Committed to Change
Rollins is one of just 42 colleges in the world to earn Ashoka U’s Changemaker Campus designation, which recognizes the leading institutions in social innovation and changemaking.