Kent State Names College of Public Health Student Anaya Spencer as its 2023-2024 Newman Civic Fellow

Since she was little, Anaya Spencer has experienced the value of the community.

Like her grandmother, who ran a home daycare in the inner city of Cleveland, and her mother, a nurse and community health worker, she has devoted herself to serving communities that face injustices. Her commitment has led her to serve on the executive board of multiple student organizations, and to educate community members about social issues. Now, following her family legacy, Spencer will pursue her passion for championing Black maternal and infant health and equity as Kent State University’s 2023-2024 Newman Civic Fellow.

Photo of Anaya Spencer

The Newman Civic Fellowship is hosted by Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities working to advance the public purposes of higher education. The fellowship is a year-long program that provides students, who are nominated for the opportunity by their university president, with training and resources that help them develop strategies for social change.

Spencer, a junior public health major with a concentration in community outreach and development and a minor in Africana studies, is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority inc., an executive board member for Black United Students (BUS), a research assistant for the Department of Psychology’s Program for Research on Anxiety Disorders among African Americans (PRADAA), and a McNair scholar.

During her fellowship, Spencer will focus on empowering the local community, by educating about disparities in Black maternal and infant health and collaborating with other community organizations to bridge the gap for Black mothers and infants. “The Newman Civic Fellowship is a great opportunity to bring light to the Black mothers’ experiences before, during, and after pregnancy using this platform,” said Spencer.

“This fellowship will allow me to use my knowledge and experiences to pour into the community and provide advocacy and education and develop solutions that can help lower the rates of this disparity,” Spencer continued.

“My passion developed with many of my personal life experiences and during the summer of 2022, when I interned for the Cleveland Clinic via the Undergraduate Administrative Internship Program,” Spencer explained. “While I worked on several projects throughout the summer, partnering with a black owned nonprofit called My Kota Bear, touched my heart the most. Our collaboration allowed us to be of resource to local families by hosting a community baby shower. The positive impact on moms and their families was clear, and so was my calling,” added Spencer. “I am excited to connect with the others on and off campus to create a plan and see other positive shifts in the local community,” she said.

Spencer will work alongside other 153 student civic leaders from 38 states who were honored to be part of the 2022-2023 Newman Civic Fellowship cohort. Fellows will meet monthly to participate in virtual training and networking opportunities, and to build the skills and the connections necessary for creating a large-scale change in their communities. “As the Newman Civic Fellow, I hope to come in with an open mind and remember the ultimate goal of advocacy and making a truly positive impact,” Spencer added.

While Campus Compact has nationally supported students’ empowerment with the Newman Civic Fellowship since 2011, this is the third year that Kent State University President Todd Diacon has nominated a Newman Civic Fellow. “For Kent State, this is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate all our students that stand out for their commitment to civic and community engagement,” said Craig Berger, Community Engaged Learning’s Associate Director who coordinated the selection process. “At Kent State, we do not only support the fellowship awardee, but all the students who are making a tremendous difference in their community, like Anaya Spencer,” he continued. 

The Fellowship is a big step toward Spencer’s future. After graduating, she plans to attend graduate school and continue advocating for Black maternal and infant health. “After receiving my bachelors, I will be pursuing my master’s degree while working as an educator and continuing advocating for the health of Black moms and children,” Spencer concluded.

For more information on the Newman Civic Fellowship at Kent State, please visit

To read Anaya Spencer’s Fellowship profile, please visit

For the full list of the 2023-2024 Fellowship cohort, please visit

POSTED: Thursday, May 11, 2023 10:29 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 18, 2023 10:59 AM