Gabrielle Monteiro received the 2015 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows Award for her commitment to community engagement.
Year: Class of 2017
Major: Political Science
Hometown: New Bedford, MA
Service: President - Hunger Initiative, Coordinator of Volunteers - SouthCoast Serves
Award: 2015 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows Award
Internships: Clean Energy Center, Green Navigators, New Bedford Office of Planning, Housing & Community Development
Next steps: Career in sustainable urban planning
Advocacy for community engagement
Through volunteering with the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ), I learned the best way to create change is to be self-aware of your political power. CSJ is a non-profit dedicated to educating lower income families in the SouthCoast to become politically involved.
As someone from a lower middle class family, I’m a strong advocate for community and political engagement. I knew political science would teach me the negotiation, problem solving, and group dynamic skills to do so effectively.
Inspired to transfer to UMassD
I earned my associate degree from Bristol Community College through MassTransfer. The state guarantees a full transfer of courses and credits with the program.
I volunteered with AmeriCorps after getting my degree, which is necessary to participate in the program. I’d always planned on going on to a four-year institution, but because AmeriCorps is a full-time job, I took the year off.
While serving for AmeriCorps, I was hosted through Social Capital Inc. to work with SouthCoast Serves, a non-profit collaborative through the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement.
I worked with 50 community groups to encourage volunteerism and civic engagement within the region. This included organizing events, recruiting volunteers, and working closely with UMass Dartmouth student leaders.
Volunteering alongside these active students, I was inspired to pursue my bachelor’s degree in political science at UMassD.
Internship with the Clean Energy Center
I became aware of the socio-economic disparities in relation to the environment through my activism. This knowledge ultimately led to my interest in sustainability with the goal of improving the quality of life by educating the public on current issues and potential solutions.
Taking a political approach with CSJ, I began participating in the Clean Water Act campaign, leading to my involvement at the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance. I was a lead intern with the SouthCoast Energy Challenge through the Clean Energy Center.
The internship took an educational approach. Interns had an obtainable goal of reducing carbon emissions for the SouthCoast region through NSTAR energy assessments for panels.
There I solidified and began preaching my environmental/sustainability values. I came to the realization that having a political background with a minor in sustainability would benefit my overall interest in environmental policy and sustainable urban development.
I also recently completed an internship with the New Bedford Office of Planning, Housing and Community Development. I very much enjoyed the work and am exploring work similar to this, locally.
Food security for students
The Hunger Initiative branched off a food injustice campaign I worked on as an AmeriCorps member. We organized panel discussions and documentary screenings regarding food insecurity and hunger in the U.S.
A group of students formed to “Revolutionize Hunger Relief” by coming up with creative ways to address the issue of hunger. As president of the group, I’ve worked with the Students Helping Students group to establish two food pantries dedicated to the serving students.
In addition, we’ve developed an on-campus permaculture garden with UMD Grows. The education of self-sustaining farming and nutrition is a long-term solution. The experience has allowed us to become a driving force behind the emergence of agricultural presence at UMassD.
This provides important knowledge about food security in our region, and we are building social capacity and encouraging community engagement through these efforts.
Sustainability on campus
As a Green Navigator project leader, I became connected to many resources regarding sustainability on campus by learning about the great things other students were doing.
I’ve learned logistical skills such as event promoting, time management, and networking. I’ve also gained experience in grant writing, management, and working independently—all of which will benefit me in my future career.
Career in sustainable urban planning
I see myself working with diverse populations, helping to improve quality of life economically and socially. I’d like to apply my skill sets to sustainable urban planning.
Through this, I can be involved in a multifaceted career that includes community development, environmental and historical preservation, and city planning/management.