The Newman Civic Fellowship is a yearlong program that recognizes and supports community-committed students. Those selected as fellows are leaders on their campuses who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally, and internationally.
Dufresne, of Madison, Wisconsin, has devoted his time to addressing mental health and suicide prevention among Colorado Springs youth. He was part of the research team that developed an implementation plan designed to help schools understand the array of mental health resources available to them. As an intern with the Quad Innovation Partnership, a joint initiative between the four major institutions of higher ed in Colorado Springs, Dufresne worked in conjunction with Children's Hospital of Colorado to research mental health programs for implementation in Colorado elementary, middle, and high schools.
He also volunteered as a probation officer in the 4th Judicial District courthouse in Colorado Springs and has served two terms with AmeriCorps working as a program leader and tutor for a summer middle school program. Through his volunteer and community work, he has accrued over 1,000 hours of service.
“I grew up in a family that has a strong commitment to serving the community and this has rubbed off on me,” says Dufresne. “In recent years, I have attempted to understand issues related to criminal justice, mental health, and education by exposing myself as much as possible to these environments and issues.”
Dufresne says his experience working with youth and his focus on the issues facing them has sparked his interest in making education more effective.
“Though I'm keeping my future options open, one area I’m eager to explore is how we can transition from a schooling structure catering to the “average” learner to one that nurtures a variety of learning styles, allowing more students to reach their full potential,” he says.
“If we don’t nurture the potential of all of our youth, then who will lead us into tomorrow? What kind of a society will we become?”