UM Student with Passion for Service Named 2021 Newman Civic Fellow

University of Montana junior Mia McKinney’s passion for social justice and outstanding academic record earned her a spot on the prestigious 2021 Newman Civic Fellows cohort.

MISSOULA – University of Montana junior Mia McKinney’s passion for social justice took root at an early age when, as a high school student in Boise, she volunteered on a teen council for Planned Parenthood and founded a student club for Special Olympics.

Her interest in promoting good has expanded with her studies at UM and it, ­along with her stellar academic record, has led to her selection for the prestigious 2021 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows.

Students selected for this yearlong fellowship are leaders on their campuses who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally and internationally. The 2021 cohort comprises 212 students from 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico.

McKinney said when she learned that UM offered studies in women’s gender and sexuality she knew the University would be the place to foster her passion for advocacy while helping her earn a valuable degree.

“I believe education is one of the keys to getting to the root of many social issues,” said McKinney whose bachelor’s degree concentration includes studies in sociology, inequality and social justice, and women’s gender and sexuality, as well as a minor in nonprofit administration from UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy.

“It is through formal and informal education that I have developed an understanding of how institutions uphold inequality,” she said. “Fact-based, intersectional and accessible education allows us to change the inequality in these institutions.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship is sponsored by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit working to advance the public purposes of higher education. Each year, Fellows participate in numerous virtual training and networking opportunities to provide them with the skills and connections they need to create large-scale positive change. The cornerstone of the fellowship is the Annual Convening of Fellows, which offers intensive skill-building and networking over the course of two days. The fellowship also provides Fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

“We are proud to recognize these extraordinary student leaders and thrilled to engage with them,” said Campus Compact President Andrew Seligsohn. “The experience of the last year has driven home to all of us that we need open-minded, innovative, public-spirited thinkers and doers.”

In nominating McKinney for the fellowship, UM President Seth Bodnar noted many of her volunteer activities including facilitating the YWCA GUTS! program fostering an environment in which young girls are encouraged to explore and discover their individual strengths; her work at SEA Change, a UM program promoting a safe, empowering and career accelerating learning environment for women; her internship at the UM Women’s Resource Center, where she created a podcast dedicated to exploring women’s perspectives on social issues; and her work registering Montana residents to vote.

“Mia’s academic record, invested work as a volunteer on campus and in the community, and her complete dedication and leadership in her academic field, exemplify the outstanding student and community advocate she is,” Bodnar said.


Contact: Andrea Vernon, executive director UM Experimental Learning and Career Success, 406-243-5159,