Toyosi Akanji named 2018 Newman Civic Fellow
Toyosi Akanji ’19, a first-generation Nigerian-American student from Cranston, Rhode Island, has been honored as a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, the Boston-based nonprofit organization supporting civic engagement on college campuses throughout the country.
As a fellowship recipient, Akanji will participate in a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including attending the national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.
A chemistry major at Salve, Akanji is an AIM Scholar and a Nuala Pell Fellow who focuses her service efforts on racial equity, educational access and health equity.
“Toyosi is a motivated and respected campus leader who works with student organizations such as the Multicultural Student Organization, the Black Student Union, and in our Student Government to help advocate for social justice and democratic participation,” said President Jane Gerety, RSM.
At Salve, Akanji helped spearhead the creation of the Black Student Union and now serves as president of the organization. She works to raise awareness to issues such as poverty on campus, college access and general awareness of the causes and consequences of racial inequities in the local community.
“I care about social justice issues because I care about people, about the world, and make a conscious effort to make a positive impact,” Akanji said. “I realized that I can make an impact in my community by serving it and using my God-given talents to help those in need.”
An advocate for marginalized people, Akanji has focused specifically on impoverished women and children of color through her community service work in low-income housing and through a mission trip to Haiti.
“Those experiences made me realize that I don’t have to be exceptional or really special to make an impact,” she said. “I realized that there was a problem with the distribution of wealth, and how many people are denied basic human rights like quality health care and quality education simply because they cannot afford to break the cycle of poverty in their family. I believe the best strategies for advocating for marginalized groups is to use my privilege to speak up for them and against the problems that plague our communities. I can use my voice to talk to people and inspire them to work for the people rather than themselves.”