OSWEGO — Campus Compact recently named Ariel Gutman-Gates, a SUNY Oswego junior psychology major, one of only 262 Newman Civic Fellows nationwide for 2019-20, recognizing his passion and hard work in growing the college’s program for students who struggle with food insecurity.
College President Deborah F. Stanley nominated Gutman-Gates for the fellowship, noting his skills in community engagement and advocacy in growing SHOP, the campus food pantry.
“A relationship builder at heart, Ariel connects with community partners to expand the pantry’s ability to serve not just the campus, but the local community through food drives, Thanksgiving baskets, and clothing and toiletry giveaways,” Stanley wrote. “Ariel’s passion for serving others and tackling social problems is evident in his work and the ways he leads his peers.”
The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year leadership opportunity in civic engagement for community-committed college students from among the 1,000-plus member institutions of Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit working to advance the public purposes of higher education.
For Gutman-Gates, service, community engagement and the pursuit of social justice are all in the family, thanks to his late father, attorney Jeremiah Gutman, who was a noted civil rights activist and an original member of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and his mother, Marilyn Gates.
“The family legacy of excellence has been ingrained in me,” said Gutman-Gates, who has minors in public justice and biology and aims to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. “(Service) was very much instilled in me through my parents. Excellence was expected based on what they knew we could do.”
In high school, he brought speakers in to talk for a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and volunteered at New York City’s JCCA, an agency serving children in foster homes following abuse or neglect by their prior caretakers.
At SUNY Oswego, Gutman-Gates served as a Laker Leader captain on the New Student Orientation team; is president of Active Minds, a campus club that empowers students to speak openly about mental health to educate others and encourage help-seeking; co-founded a Girl Up chapter that organizes fundraisers for health-related needs of girls in Africa and South and Central America; served on the Student Conduct Committee on campus; and has been a peer educator through the college’s Lifestyles Center. Then came his work with the campus food pantry.
Now, as student coordinator of SHOP, Gutman-Gates manages a roster of more than 125 volunteers, handles a budget and all donations of food, toiletries and clothing, and works to expand services, such as offering school supplies to students in need.
As a volunteer for the pantry, he said, “it really hit home — I knew a lot of friends in high school who had food insecurity. SHOP felt like it was more of my interest in giving back to other people. Something about it called to me.”
Newman Civic Fellows attend an annual conference in the fall, and have access to scholarships and a network of past honorees and others focused on building campus-community partnerships to address public problems and build equitable communities.
The fellowships honor Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, who was a passionate advocate for broadening opportunities for diverse and economically challenged students to have access to a college education. He was equally passionate in his advocacy for educating students to fulfill their roles as active citizens.