When Nadia Shelton was on her way home after visiting The University of Toledo four years ago, she told her parents, “It feels like home. I can see myself making a difference here.”
And she has.
From the time she set foot on campus as a freshman, Shelton has used her curiosity and passion for service to make an impact. Every organization she becomes involved in and every class she takes become opportunities to learn, hone her leadership skills, and give back.
Her interests are wide-ranging. Shelton is a prelaw communication major with a specialization in public relations and a minor in peace studies.
She has worked as the public relations director for the Residence Hall Association and an intern for the UToledo Athletics Department. As a Levis Leadership Scholar, Shelton learned what it takes to be a leader ― and to embrace UToledo’s diversity.
“It showed me that everyone is different,” said Shelton, who is from Taylor, Mich., and attended a small, Catholic high school in Detroit. “In Levis, we had people who came from little farm towns, people who were raised totally different than I was. I heard all these different opinions.”
She loves that she’s met students from Cape Verde, Nigeria and Egypt. She is grateful that the vice president of student affairs and the dean of students are African American.
“It’s important to have people who look like you in those roles,” she said.
Shelton joined Zeta Phi Beta sorority last year and was hired as the undergraduate assistant for Greek life.
“I wrote a newsletter and was in charge of social media,” she said. “It helped me build relationships with people I would have never known.”
In 2016, Shelton’s mom donated a kidney to her father, who had been on dialysis because of his diabetes. Shelton had watched how dialysis took a toll on her father. Last year, she came up with an idea for a student group that would spread awareness about kidney disease. The idea was for students to gather and make blankets for dialysis patients. They’d then drop off the blankets and stay and chat a while with patients.
COVID derailed her plans, but Shelton said she still intends to launch Cozy Chatz this year. The 20 or so students who have expressed interest in the group may have to chat and make blankets via Zoom, but Shelton is confident they can still make a difference.
Her commitment to action defines Shelton. After taking a class in peace studies, she decided to declare it as a minor.
“I learned about the injustices in the world, and it made me want to learn more about peaceful ways to handle injustice. Peace studies fits me,” she said.
In fact, she enjoyed writing all the essays in her peace studies classes because she said she “felt so strongly about what we were discussing.”
Shelton praised her professor, Dr. Dale T. Snauwaert, whose passion brought the subject to life for her. He’s one of her biggest fans, too.
“Nadia is a wonderful student. She is highly intelligent and thoughtful,” said Snauwaert, professor of social and philosophical foundations of education and peace studies. “She is very committed to understanding and transforming our world to make it more just and peaceful. I expect that she will have a very significant positive impact on the world in her life. She is exceptional.”
Shelton said her long-range plan is to start a nonprofit of some kind. She plans on going to law school, but may take a year off after graduation this spring to do community service.
Meanwhile, she’ll keep being curious and keep getting involved.
“I’m learning so much about the world, and that’s what I’m in college to do,” she said. “I know so many people who get out of college and say, ‘Dang, I wish I would have done more.’ I don’t want to say that.”