SPRINGVILLE—Amber Thiel, a Springville native, has been named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow. Thiel, a sophomore marketing major, is one of 273 students in the country to receive the award.
The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year fellowship for community-committed college students from Campus Compact member institutions. The fellowship honors the late Dr. Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders and a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education.
In the spirit of Dr. Newman’s leadership, Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors are annually invited to nominate one community-committed student from their institution for the fellowship. These nominees are individuals who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country and abroad.
Thiel was nominated by the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University.
“Amber has an outstanding level of maturity, an unending enthusiasm for service and a deep commitment to wanting to see change in the world,” said Maher. “In her brief time on campus, Amber has already made significant contributions to the campus and the Niagara Falls community. She represents the core values and mission of Niagara University, namely to serve those who are most in need.”
Upon being accepted to Niagara University, Thiel signed up for the Niagara Plunge, a three-day pre-orientation program for first-year students that immerses them in the university’s Catholic and Vincentian identity and mission. Thiel also participated in several week-long immersive service trips, working alongside other volunteers at food banks, homeless shelters, community gardens and after-school programs.
Thiel’s focus has been on addressing hunger and food insecurity, which impacts more than 42 million Americans, including 13 million children, according to a 2015 USDA study. She is the president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a student-run group that oversees a soup kitchen in Niagara Falls every Thursday night. The students prepare the meals and then serve guests, restaurant style, to bring some normalcy to the guests’ lives.
“Through the society, I learned about the economy in Niagara Falls and the issues that are a part of the residents’ lives. After my first year in the group, I decided I wanted to do more in the society, so I became president,” said Thiel. “Now the society has gone on to make our kitchen a more welcoming place for the community. We have adopted a family during Christmas and raised money for Summit Life Crisis Pregnancy Outreach Center. One of my goals as president was to build a better connection with the national society, which we have accomplished. This has opened up more projects for the society that I cannot wait to see come into fruition.”
Thiel’s volunteer and leadership commitments are extensive, as she regularly serves several different local community organizations, in addition to volunteering in leadership positions for numerous NU clubs and organizations, such as the Business Organizational Leadership Development club, NUMA (the student marketing association) and the Late Nite Niagara committee, which hosts free events for NU students to have a safe place to interact. She also works in the NU athletics department and is a tour guide for prospective NU students and their families.
Academically, Thiel is near the top of her class, having achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.80. She is a business major with a focus in food marketing and consumer packaged goods; she also maintains a minor in sports management.