Amber Thiel, '19

Amber Thiel, a sophomore marketing major at Niagara University, has been named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact for demonstrating outstanding leadership and civic engagement. The Springville native is among 273 students in the country – 23 from New York – to receive the award.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of almost 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to advancing the civic purposes of higher education.

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 Father 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. Also during her freshman year, Thiel 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 since that time 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,” said Thiel. “After my first year in the group, I decided I wanted to do more in the society, so I became president. 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 (to date) 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 sport management.

The Newman Civic Fellow award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Through service, research and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.

Previous Niagara University students who have been named Newman Civic Fellows include Megan Rogers, ’18, James Mackey, ’16, and Crystal Lorenzo, ’15.

The 2017 Newman Civic Fellows will be the first cohort to benefit from a completely re-designed fellowship experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides students with access to exclusive scholarship and postgraduate opportunities.

“The cultivation of community-committed leaders has never been more crucial,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “We rebuilt the Newman Civic Fellowship experience because our country needs more people who know how to bring communities together for positive change. We are thrilled to welcome this group of 273 exemplary students as the first cohort to participate in this new model.”

The Newman Civic Fellows awards are made possible through the support of the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation. A full list of the 2017 Newman Civic Fellows is available on