Ian Hopkins ’25 awarded Newman Civic Fellowship to explore using film for social change
For Ian Hopkins ’25, the journey to becoming a Newman Fellow began with the Posse Scholars program, which connected him with eight other Chicago area students bound for Conn even before the start of their first year.
“When I got to Conn, I already had a very strong support network,” he explained. “Then you have a lot of resources and people who are willing to help you out; people here to support you. My Posse mentor, Professor Marc Forster, he’s written a lot of recommendation letters for me. It’s really beneficial,” said Hopkins.
Since arriving at Conn, Hopkins’s network of support has grown. During the summer of 2022, the film studies major met and worked with Professor Jefferson Singer on the Voices Across Generations program, a two-week workshop that paired older and younger New London residents in discussions of discrimination and culminated in a series of stories and poems.
After that experience, Singer wrote a recommendation for Hopkins to Campus Compact, the institution that oversees the Newman Civic Fellowship, a year-long program that recognizes and supports student public problem solvers. Throughout the fellowship year, Campus Compact provides fellows with opportunities to nurture their assets and help them develop strategies for social change, creating a network of connected and engaged student leaders who can support one another in making positive change.
Professor Ronald Flores, the faculty director of the College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, also recommended Hopkins for the fellowship, and President Katherine Bergeron contributed the final recommendation letter.
“Ian Hopkins, a second-year student at Connecticut College, channels artistic practice to address issues of race, representation and social justice on his campus and in the New London community,” Bergeron wrote, citing Hopkins’ participation in both Voices Across Generations and Your Voice Counts, an initiative aimed at developing communication and conflict-management skills among local youth.
With the fellowship now awarded, Hopkins is excited to see how it will further guide his future.
“In high school, I was like, ‘What do I want to do?’ Then, over the summer, I worked on a documentary about AAVE—African American Vernacular English—and thought, ‘Oh, this is really dope.’ I did a video before because it was fun, but then when I added a community engagement aspect to it, an educational aspect to it, ‘Oh, this is something I would like to pursue.’”
As for how the Newman Civic Fellowship will connect with Hopkins’ passion for using filmmaking to fuel social change, the sophomore immediately points to how it promotes connecting and learning from other passionate students.
“It’s about learning from so many people who are also civically engaged, you know because every school has a collection of people who want to do civic engagement and have a passion for it. When you’re in an environment with that many people who are passionate about something, it motivates you.”
Hopkins adds that he is very grateful for the fellowship and the opportunities it will provide.
“I want to just be able to get as much knowledge and information as I can, because opportunities like this don’t come often. So you have to really take advantage of it. Just build. Just build and network.”
Connecticut College offers a wide range of fellowship opportunities for students and recent graduates. For more information, visit The Walter Commons or email email@example.com.