Central student awarded national civics fellowship


Courtesy of iCivics

Junior Susan Nofal was selected to receive the prestigious Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship.

Junior Suzan Nofal was one of the 22 students selected nationwide as a member of the Inaugural Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship, a part of a broader initiative of iCivics. This is a year-long program for high school students from across the country to serve as student ambassadors for equity in civic education.  

iCivics was founded in 2009 by United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor due to her concern about a growing lack of understanding about our system and government and the disengagement that results. Her goal was to transform civic education for every student in America with innovative resources and engaging games. 

Former Supreme Court justice member Sandra Day O’Connor. (Courtesy of Britannica)

The fellowship was founded in 2019 by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and is led by Amber Coleman-Morteley. It explores the challenges that civic education has when it comes to providing relevant and equitable civics. 

“Last year we flew the inaugural cohort of Equity Fellows to Washington, D.C. for a weekend of co-learning and team bonding,” Coleman-Mortley said. “Our Executive Director and iCivics staff worked with our students throughout that weekend. Student Voice and Young Invincibles led workshops on social media and advocacy.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this year’s fellows will not be able to travel but that doesn’t mean that they won’t have powerful learning opportunities.

Amber Coleman-Mortley (Courtesy of iCivics )

“We’ve already held virtual sessions and brought in education evangelist Jaime Casap, who blew our kids away,” Coleman-Mortley said. “Understanding how COVID-19 has been such a bummer for so many students, the goal this year is to work really hard at preparing these students to speak their truth and find platforms for them to shine.” 

The fellowship gives students opportunities to grow their leadership capacity and obtain media training with experts in civic engagement, advocacy, digital literacy, and social media. 

“Since we are on Zoom right now we always have round table discussions and talk about how we can improve civic education so that it is accessible to American kids everywhere,” Nofal said. “Some kids in this program don’t even have access to a civics class or education at their school so I am grateful that Central offers that to everyone.”

Nofal had the opportunity to immerse herself in a hands-on experience beyond learning about the process of how the government works in civics class with Mrs. Whitney Wilda.

“Suzan has always been really civically and socially engaged so she would stay before and after class and we would just talk politics and about current events,” Wilda said. “I was happy to be able to provide the teacher recommendation for her to reach one of her goals.” 

Susan is passionate about prison reform, healthcare, immigration, and food insecurity.

“I decided to join the fellowship because of my love and passion for community service. I believe I can make a difference locally and make a change on a national scale,” Nofal said. “I want to run for public office in the future and I’m doing everything I can as a high school student to make sure Americans of all backgrounds are civically aware and are responsible citizens.”