WP Sophomore Rebecca Gilliland Wins New Jersey’s 2021 ‘Changebuilder Scholar Award’ for Civic Engagement

Rebecca Gilliland

William Paterson University sophomore Rebecca Gilliland ‘23, an Honors College student majoring in psychology, is one of six recipients to receive the 2021 Changebuilder Scholars Award through New Jersey Campus Compact for her outstanding civic engagement – one of the core values of the University.

“Rebecca is clearly a skilled project leader and resilience builder, based on her demonstrated accomplishments in creating a Covid-safety team, by revitalizing the campus food garden so as to add fresh produce to WP’s impressive and growing food pantry, and by being a Peer Leader in the Will Power class,” the New Jersey Campus Compact states in its award announcement.

Gilliland collected nonperishable foods and donated them to the pantry in addition to volunteering at the pantry for a month, where she packaged individual orders for students and distributed them. “Through completing this project, I have become passionate about food insecurity and more so about social justice overall, says Gilliland.

She is also involved in starting a COVID-19 safety team that will go around and ensure that everyone on campus is being safe through the proper use of equipment, such as wipes and hand sanitizer stations.

In addition, she relaunched the “Her Campus WPUNJ” club, an online media hub for students, serving as president and working to rebuild the chapter. “I have been trying to cultivate the organization into an inclusive safe space/community for students, to express themselves especially through writing.” For Women’s history month, the club co-hosted the event “Women in Business,” a panel on owning a small business, where women business owners shared their experiences.

Gilliland is also a member of the Theta Phi Alpha sorority, serving as its scholarship chairperson and National Panhellenic Council representative and community service chairperson.

“All of my civic engagement work ties into my passion for helping others and my interest in social justice,” says Gilliland, who has minors in sociology and criminal justice. “My club involvement and civic engagement has really shaped my college experience so far and will continue to do so.”

William Paterson is one of the founding members of Campus Compact New Jersey, the statewide affiliate of the national Campus Compact that promotes public and community service to develop students' citizenship skills. In addition, William Paterson is the first public college or university in New Jersey with a civic engagement requirement as part of its core curriculum.