USD Student One of First Selected as College Corps Fellow

USD Student One of First Selected as College Corps Fellow

Ashley Gonzalez grew up in San Diego’s Logan Heights neighborhood and has a deep appreciation for her community. Neighbors look out for one another and the culture is vibrant. But there is one problem that most residents in the area don’t like — the pollution.

“A lot of children are being exposed to harmful toxins,” says Gonzalez. “This can lead to health issues like asthma or cancer.”

Logan Heights sits near the Port of San Diego, which has long stood as a hub for commercial traffic including semi-trucks and cargo ships. In 1963, Interstate 5 was constructed, bisecting the communities of Logan Heights and Barrio Logan. The thousands of cars that pass through daily have also left the area with tons of diesel pollution.

Now a fourth-year at the University of San Diego, Gonzalez is looking for a solution to help her community and recently found the answer: College Corps.

The program introduced by the State of California engages students from colleges and universities across the state to solve problems in their communities by partnering with local organizations. The College Corps Fellows will receive $10,000 for completing a year of service and performing valuable work in their communities. 

“Our students will not only be able to learn what it’s like to work in sectors for social good and public service but also help defray the cost of their education,” says USD President James Harris.

USD is one of 48 California colleges and universities participating in College Corps and will primarily focus on addressing climate issues as well as K-12 education and homelessness.

“This is an opportunity for our students to make a difference in our local communities while getting the hands-on experience they need to care for our common home and tackle the urgent challenge of climate change,” adds Harris.

Gonzalez was one of the first students in the entire state to be selected as a College Corps Fellow. She is majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Business Administration and Ethnic Studies with the goal of one day working in public policy and urban planning to focus on environmental justice. 

Gonzalez has a full plate between studying, working and facilitating change both on campus and in her community. The stipend offered by College Corps will allow her to take a step back from work studies and focus more of her energy on her true passion — environmental work.

“I felt very honored and grateful for this opportunity,” says Gonzalez. “I’m excited to spend more of my energy and time, being fully present and connecting with community members to grow and flourish as a person.”

As many as 94 other USD undergraduate students will join Gonzalez in becoming College Corps Fellows and work with community partners such as the Port of San Diego, the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, San Diego Unified School District and dozens more. The students will come from different disciplines and will be placed with a community partner based on its needs.

“Whatever major you’re studying, the environment is connected to it,” says Gonzalez. “People fail to recognize that and how important it is to connect the bridges [across] disciplines to solve our impact on the environment.”

For undergraduate students who are interested in applying or have any questions, please contact College Corps Program Coordinator Alvin Seepaul at

— Kelsey Grey '15 (BA)