While Chardanay White’s backpack is dotted with buttons showing her civic commitment, this Montgomery County Community College student from Norristown takes her activism far beyond the words they display. Her relentless work educating young voters about the voting process has earned her the honor of Campus Compact 2018 Newman Civic Fellow.
As a Newman Civic Fellow, White joins 267 students from four-year colleges, state universities and community colleges across the country. The Fellowship is a yearlong program that recognizes and supports civic-minded students who are exploring solutions in their communities. Named in honor of Frank Newman, a Campus Compact founder, it is supported by the KPMG Foundation and by the Newman’s Own Foundation.
The College encourages participation in extracurricular activities, and White was introduced to voting registration work at one of the College’s club fairs.
Her mom inspired her interest in civic engagement, she said. “She instilled in me that voting is so important especially since women were some of the last to get voting rights — excluding Native Americans.”
On campus her main extracurricular focus is the club she founded, Next Gen Rising, a state chapter of Next Generation America, which encourages eligible youths to vote. White can often be found making arrangements for voter registration drives, from marketing the event to offering donuts.
The club ran a voter registration drive recently in advance of the April 16 voter registration deadline for the Pennsylvania state primary elections in May. She said Next Gen campus registration events result in some 15 to 20 newly registered voters.
In addition to her volunteer voting activities, White is a member of the Environmental and Sustainability, Archaeology and Anthropology, and Drama clubs, and serves in the Student Government Association as a student senator. She had the opportunity to participate in the “I Am” conference in Memphis, Tenn., commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr.
A high school class in American government at Norristown Area High School kindled White’s interest in civic engagement. She originally planned to be a political science major at a four-year college. However, after experiencing some delays with financial aid, she decided to come to Montco. In retrospect, she considers enrolling in the College a great decision.
“I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but I had very good teachers,” she said of her first semester at Central Campus in Blue Bell, where she attends. “Then, I fell in love with it. You get a good education and save money, too.”
After graduating in May with an associate’s degree in Liberal Studies, she plans to continue her education at a four-year college, attend law school and possibly relocate to Washington, D.C. This summer she plans to go door to door to encourage voting awareness. She looks forward to the Newman Civic Fellow conference in Boston in the fall.
She is passionate about new opportunities to get her message across: “Too many people don’t think their vote counts. Look at the western Pennsylvania election where 720 votes changed the result. Every vote matters. Your vote counts.”
About Montgomery County Community College
For more than 50 years, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the evolving educational needs of Montgomery County. The College’s comprehensive curriculum includes more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as customized workforce training and certifications. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning at the College’s thriving campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, at the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, and online through a robust Virtual Campus.
As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, the institution is positioned at the vanguard of national efforts to increase completion, improve learning outcomes, and remove barriers to access for students. The College also is recognized regionally and nationally for its sustainability leadership, work with military veterans, community service and service learning opportunities, and use of classroom technology. For more information, visit http://www.mc3.edu.