Michael Gonzales - Howard Community College

M. Gonzales Freetown Farm

As an engineering student, Michael describes his academic and career aspirations in terms of designing systems that can help create more meaningful lives for individuals and more just communities. One of the most mature expressions of these goals to date is Michael’s capstone project … which hypothesizes that environmental volunteerism can help to improve problem-solving abilities, time management, and study habits among young adults. …Michael has brought to his many activities outside the classroom the same zeal and ethos of service that characterize his capstone project.

-Dr. Daria J. Willis
President, Howard Community College

I believe this program is an incredible opportunity to grow as an active leader in my community, to deepen my understanding of the social issues in which I aim make a positive impact, and to collaborate with other civic-minded individuals. Leadership growth has drawn my attention ever since I joined a group called the Lutheran Youth Organization. After creating service and advocacy projects, I realized that I am inspired to make a positive change in the world one conversation at a time.

For my capstone project this year, I am studying the effects of environmental volunteerism on social health. While volunteering at a community-inspiring non-profit organization, I see ways for environmental change to occur at the most basic level like home gardening as well as breaking circumstantial barriers for individuals to be able to participate in volunteering.

I am also a learner in that when I meet new people, I tend to ask questions about their stories and dive deeper into the problems that they face. By learning their background and experience, I get a better sense of who they are, the dreams that they have, and the struggles that they face. There is a lot of fulfillment for me when I can point someone in a direction or give them information to help them succeed. As an orientation leader, I do this every day by teaching
students the resources and opportunities on campus.

This Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellowship is a great opportunity for me to further explore my leadership skills by having meaningful conversations about injustices in the community and discuss ways to implement systematic changes in the community one step at a time. I will be able to expand my understanding of inequalities, advocate for those struggling within my community and nation, and create programs that encourage positive change and awareness. Other enthusiastic fellowship students will teach me ways that they implement change, and I will be able to encourage them to become more thoughtful citizens.

Michael Gonzales

2022-23 Mid-Atlantic Civic Fellow