Faced with choosing between a full-time position in a prestigious global communications marketing firm or work with a non-profit organization, Njideka Ofoleta ’16 went with her gut and took a fellowship with the Newman’s Own Foundation. “I wanted an opportunity to give back for a year,” said Ofoleta, a Posse Foundation Scholar from Miami.
The Newman’s Own Foundation was founded in 1982 by Paul Newman as a philanthropic venture to sell Newman’s Own food products and donate all of the profits to charities that the Foundation supports. The fellowship program, launched in 2015, provides fellows with hands-on experience in the nonprofit sector.
Ofoleta will be a fellow at the Discovery Center, a non-profit diversity education program founded by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in Hartford, Ct. Its mission is to create partnerships between inner-city and suburban schools in Connecticut whereby students develop and nurture new friendships with students from communities that are different from their own.
Ofoleta, a communication and Hispanic studies concentrator at Hamilton, will be working as a digital media and community outreach fellow at the Discovery Center.
The Center is in the process of launching its first electronic registration system where parents will be able to register their children for the Discovery Center’s camp program. “I'll be going out into the community and talking to parents and stakeholders in local schools to promote the process and test its efficiency,” Ofoleta explained. “For the Digital Media part, I'll be maintaining the Discovery Center’s blog and its social media presence. I'm going to be really busy for the next year learning and experiencing a lot of new things,” she said.
Ofoleta started applying to jobs in the fall, and in the spring it came down to this fellowship and an offer to start at the global communications firm. “I said to myself, what is going to be more rewarding, a full-time position in the consumer department (of the marketing company), or a year of service where I can learn, give back and feel good about what I do? And in the end, I chose Newman’s Own. Looking back,” Ofoleta remarked, “I don’t regret that decision one bit.”
Through her fellowship, Ofoleta hopes to learn more about the role that government plays in schools and what it is doing to decrease the achievement gap in education for children from different socioeconomic backgrounds. “And then I want to learn firsthand from the kids how they feel they could be supported more,” she explained.
Although she has just completed training for her fellowship, Ofoleta already feels good about her choice. “I love the support that Newman’s Own gives its fellows. I see how much everyone at the Foundation cares about Paul’s mission and has a hands-on approach to furthering the success of the Foundation and the charities it supports,” she said. “Newman’s Own wants to see that those who they support actually feel their presence and go to extremes to make sure that they provide continuous aide as needed. Honestly, it’s motivational and inspiring.”
While at Hamilton, Ofoleta served as communications intern for the Career Center for three years, and was chair of the Voices of Color lecture series. She studied in Spain during her junior year.
Newman’s Own Fellows are selected based on demonstrated leadership skills, as well as commitment to social issues and community development. They are placed at nonprofit organizations in roles aligned with their capabilities and career interests.