Civic Scholars Program

The Civic Scholars Program provides a rigorous, in-depth curriculum for undergraduate students who exemplify future potential for civic leadership. Sophomores are selected in a competitive merit-based process and learn together through their junior and senior years. The program includes intensive coursework, leadership training, and mentorship to prepare Scholars for a life dedicated to civic and community engagement, and a scholarship of $5,000 to support a substantial civic project or internship.

Civic Scholars engage in substantive academic instruction, leadership development, skill building, and group discussion designed to support the development of their civic projects and civic vision. They also develop networking and professional skills that will prepare them for significant future civic leadership in a wide range of professions.

In the video below, Class of 2017 Civic Scholars reflect on their experiences in the classroom, St. Louis community, and beyond.

    The Gephardt Institute seeks a broad range of applicants from all backgrounds, perspectives, and schools who have varied knowledge and experience levels in civic engagement. Through this program, Scholars will:
  • Engage in substantive academic instruction, leadership development, skill building, and group discussion designed to support the development of their civic projects and civic vision. Courses throughout junior and senior years (2 hours, 2 credits each semester of junior year; 1 hour, 1 credit each semester of senior year) will include readings, guest speakers, excursions, and class discussion.
  • Network with and be mentored by prominent civic leaders in the St. Louis community and the course instructors. Scholars will also mentor the incoming cohort each year.
  • Participate in an annual retreat designed to fortify their cohort and launch them on a path of civic leadership.
  • Immerse themselves in St. Louis and Washington D.C. during organized Fall Break trips, to learn about local neighborhoods, public policy, and civic efforts to engage citizens.
  • Receive a $5,000 scholarship to be used the summer between junior and senior years for a substantial civic project of their choice, developed in consultation with their mentors. This may include an unpaid nonprofit internship, social entrepreneurship project, international service experience, or engaged research.

“The Civic Scholars Program for me has been challenging, invigorating, integral, and supportive.”

Michael Collins ’18

“The Civic Scholars Program helped me develop my social justice practice and encouraged me to become an engaged citizen, student, and friend. This learning process has happened in community with the people I’ve come to love most at WashU: fellow Civic Scholars, past and present, and my instructors.”

Maria Ruiz ’17

“The Civic Scholars Program experience has helped me to understand argument, respect, vision, and failure.”

Nick Annin ’17

Civic Scholars Cohort

  • Sophie Abo is majoring in anthropology: global health and the environment
  • Haley Allen is majoring in international and area studies, psychology
  • Nathaniel Bernstein is majoring in political science
  • Anand Chukka is majoring in anthropology: global health and the environment
  • Maddie Farrer is majoring in architecture
  • Marcellus Johnson  is majoring in architecture
  • Rhea Khanna is majoring in communication design, educational studies
  • Marissa Lerner is majoring in environmental earth science
  • Sam Messenger is majoring in economics, finance
  • Le’Aysha Pearson is majoring in elementary education and applied linguistics
  • Gabby Perez-Garcia is majoring in anthropology: global health and the environment
  • James Schisler is majoring in geophysics
  • Dan Sicorsky is majoring in international and area studies, political science
  • Meghal Sheth is majoring in anthropology: global health and the environment
  • Adis Terzic is majoring in anthropology: global health and the environment
  • Sarah Yapo is majoring in biochemistry

Andres Avalle, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from Manchester, VT, is double majoring in systems science and engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences and economics and strategy in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is interested in working with the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority to inform future legislative advocacy surrounding the use of vacant land in St. Louis.

Molly Brodsky, a Stern Family Civic Scholar from Fair Lawn, NJ, is double majoring in anthropology: global health and the environment and women, gender, and sexuality studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. She intends to facilitate activities and discussions with religious community members passionate about gender-inclusive spaces to build foundations for true openness and connection.

Caitlin Cheeseboro, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from Woodbury, MN is majoring in political science in the College of Arts & Sciences. She hopes to work with individuals re-entering the community from prison, helping meet basic needs, find employment, and maintain freedom.

Michael Collins, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from Zionsville, IN, is double majoring in chemistry and Chinese language and culture in the College of Arts & Sciences. He hopes to partner with local elementary and middle schools to develop a curriculum that focuses on positive education of gender roles and gender relations.

Claudia Evaristo, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from Athens, GA, is double majoring in anthropology and biology in the College of Arts & Sciences. She plans to work with the organization Casa de Salud to better understand how issues of domestic violence and sexual assault are impacting the Latin@ community in St. Louis.

Kielah Harbert, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from St. Louis, MO, is double majoring in African and African American studies and philosophy and minoring in education in the College of Arts & Sciences. She hopes to work with local youth, empowering them to actively participate in the transformation of their own neighborhoods.

Ishak Hossain, a Bob and Gerry Virgil Civic Scholar from Tulsa, OK, is double majoring in biology and anthropology: global health and the environment in the College of Arts & Sciences. He hopes to learn more about connecting individuals to medical care through prescription drug recycling programs.

Assiatou Jallow, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from Detroit, MI, is double majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing in the Olin School of Business. She wants to explore urban economic development and to provide business knowledge to small businesses.

Wesley Jenkins, a Seiden Family Civic Scholar from Nashville, TN, is double majoring in political science and American culture studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. He hopes to document the police’s use of Crisis Intervention Training to encourage widespread adoption of the training.

Anna Noronha, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from Lake Forest, IL, is majoring in biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and minoring in Spanish. She hopes to examine the barriers limiting access to medical services for immigrant communities in the United States.

Karthik Rohatgi, a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar from Reno, NV, is majoring in mathematics and a member of the Honors Program of Statistics in the College of Arts & Sciences. He plans to focus on issues relevant to food deserts, particularly nutrition education and access to farmers’ markets.

Nathan Stanfield, a Cantor Family Civic Scholar from Milton, MA, is majoring in architecture in the College of Arts & Sciences. He intends explore turning vacant lots into self-sustaining community gardens.

Madeline Stewart, a Dr. Margaret A. Olsen and Dr. Joseph N. Marcus Civic Scholar from Boston, MA, is majoring in chemistry and minoring in anthropology in the College of Arts & Sciences. She is interested in exploring end of life medical care.

Sarah Vaughen, a Mary and Tom Stillman Civic Scholar from Champaign, IL, is majoring in cognitive neuroscience in the College of Arts & Sciences. She is hoping to partner with Spring Initiative in Clarksdale, Mississippi, an established after-school program that provides summer activities, to address unhealthy eating habits among the students.

Cole Warner of St. Louis, MO, is majoring in American culture studies and minoring in biology and philosophy in the College of Arts & Sciences. He plans on working with the Zen Hospice Project to gain clinical and volunteer experience.

Nicholas Annin challenges how businesses and governments value natural capital. During his time as a Civic Scholar, he has gained a deeper understanding of how investment strategy can create positive impact on a macro and micro scale. Last summer he worked for Green Century Capital Management where he conducted sustainability analyses on companies within the Green Century International Index Fund in order to help market the impact the fund was creating. His dream is to help redirect the power of the financial system to fuel the growth of natural capital.

Alexandra Barrett of Laurel, MD is majoring in environmental earth science with minors in photography and African and African-American studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. She studied abroad in Tanzania, and plans to partner with residents of East St. Louis this summer to expand the urban farming movement.

Lucy Chin, a Stern Family Civic Scholar, aspires to balance scholarship and practice. Specifically, she is interested in education policy and the integration of social justice conversations into educational communities across a variety of age-groups and school types. This summer, Lucy worked on two different projects. She served as a FaciliTrainer and the Monitoring & Evaluation lead for NCCJSTL’s annual Youth Leadership Institute, Anytown, and worked as a policy research intern for the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce. In the two different positions, she learned about the variety of ways that civic agents advocate and realize thoughtful and holistic education policy/programs, thus reinforcing her interest in integrating higher-level policy work with training and practice in local communities.

Suhas Gondi, a Dr. Margaret A. Olsen and Dr. Joseph N. Marcus Civic Scholar,  aspires to be a civically and politically engaged physician who leverages public policy and innovation to reshape the American health care system. The Civic Scholars experience has been critical in preparing him to be an effective advocate for the best interests of his patients, his community, and society at large. Driven by his experiences with the uninsured and his interest in public policy, he spent his summer working on federal level health policy issues at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. As he moves towards graduation and transitions to medical school, he is excited to use this experience and the skills he developed this summer to position himself at the intersection of health care and government.

Jacob Metz, a Cantor Family Civic Scholar, aims to influence policy in the government sector. As a Civic Scholar, he hopes to learn how to foster productive relationships and sustain meaningful conversations between different community partners to inform policy. The past summer, he worked as a community organizer helping a local St. Louis community push politicians to clean up radioactive waste in the West Lake Landfill.

Yaala Muller hopes to be a connecting force, drawing inspiration from her experiences growing up in the Middle East, specifically dialogue across difference between Israelis and Palestinians. As a Civic Scholar, she hopes to continue to learn how to create a connection between seemingly disparate perspectives and experiences. This past summer, Yaala worked at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, where she served as assistant to the Executive Director. While at IMTD, she learned about what is needed to successfully run a non-profit and the importance of aligning values with structural organizational frameworks.

Sarah Nesbitt strives to be an agent of change in reproductive justice. She feels compelled to engage in crucial dialogues around environmental, economic, and racial justice insofar as they impact abortion access and reproductive health. This summer, she worked as a policy intern in the Women’s Health and Rights department of the Center for American Progress. She tracked legislative movement around reproductive health and rights, followed and analyzed the SCOTUS Whole Woman’s Health decision, and helped prepare materials for Congress and constituents. This work helped her work toward her goal of bringing medical facts, unbiased data, and authentic anecdotal evidence to the table of reproductive justice politics.

Sakura Oyama is very interested in the biological mechanisms through which social environments influence human health. She spent last summer in Washington D.C. serving as a policy intern at Genetic Alliance, a health advocacy organization focused on the intersection of genetics, genomics and public health while striving to empower patients in clinical settings.

Norah Rast, a Seiden Family Civic Scholar, aspires to be an agent for mobilizing networks of change.  As a Civic Scholar, Norah has learned about serving community needs by finding the connections between advocacy and policy-level change. This summer, Norah worked alongside a nonprofit in Cologne, Germany, providing support to refugee and migrant women as they navigated medical, legal, and governmental systems. Norah accompanied and supported individual clients in accessing necessary resources and worked on translation, grant-writing, and policy research for the organization.  Norah is planning to attend law school so she can use her experiences and insight to do advocacy and policy work within the realm of violence prevention and reproductive rights policy.

María José Ruiz, a Stern Family Civic Scholar, spent her summer working at Nurses for Newborns, a nonprofit in St. Louis whose primary goal is to offer medical services for low-income mothers and their infants. Maria worked as a community health worker and also worked as a data analyst of client satisfaction surveys. Because Nurses for Newborns understands the necessity for integrated medical and social services for holistic care, Maria’s role as a community health worker was to support Spanish-speaking mothers in navigating the healthcare system and in gaining access to resources that satisfy their living needs.

Laken Sylvander is from Saint Louis and grew up in Singapore. She has found a deep passion for working with survivors of interpersonal violence and sexual assault, and expanding access to under-researched & under-funded healing services such as art therapy for survivors. Her studies and experience have helped ensure that intersectionality is the framework at the forefront of the work she hopes to pursue in these fields.

Neena Wang grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Neena has an interest in combining photography and architecture, specifically spatial practice in global cities.  During the summer of 2016, Neena wove together her interests in civic engagement, urbanism and fine arts to make photographic montages as a form of spatial representation.  She drew up on her interests and knowledge in urban planning, architecture, community practice and photography to depict neighborhoods in New York City.


The Civic Scholars graduated cohorts remain committed to civic engagement post-graduation.

2016 Alumni

2016 Civic Scholars Cohort

Shyam Akula: MD/PhD, Harvard University
Kierstan Carter: Teach for America, St. Louis
Cameron Kinker: Program Coordinator, One Love Foundation, New York
Jagdeesh Kottapalli:
Brianna McCain: Graduate Student, Brown School of Social Work
Nick Okafor:
Carrick Reddin: Community Development Coordinator, Rise Community Development
Rachel Sumption: Fulbright Teaching Fellow, Morocco

2015 Alumni

2015 Civic Scholars Cohort

2015 Civic Scholars Cohort

Madeleine Balchan: Summer travel
Victoria (Tori) Bawel: Medical Student, Stanford Medical School
Rachel (Rori) Bridge: Global Health Corps Fellow, Uganda
Anirudh (Raja) Krishna: Teach for America, Hawaii
Elliot Louthen: FairVote Fellow
Reuben Riggs: Community Organizer, Organization for Black Struggle
Seiko Shastri: Special Projects Coordinator, Gephardt Institute
Jason Silberman: Medical Student, Weill Cornell Medical


2014 Alumni


Civic Scholars Cohort 2014

Joshua Aiken: Rhodes Scholar, England
Ayah Abo-Basha: Travel in Egypt
Hallie Dobkin: Gap year before medical school, Boston
Avi David Geller: Harvard Medical School, Boston
Tiffini Hyatt: KIPP Fellows Program, Washington D.C.
Maddie Polk: SenseCorp, St. Louis
Dylan Simonson: Equifax- Community Engagement Office, St. Louis

2013 Alumni

The Class of 2013 Civic Scholars cohort

The Class of 2013 Civic Scholars cohort

Peter Birke: Brookings Intern; Fellow, New York Urban Fellows Program
Grace Chao: White House Intern; Medical Student, Harvard Medical School
Michael Harries: Medical Student, University of Chicago Medical School
Pia Marcus: Global Health Corps Fellow, HIPS Washington, DC
Andreas Mitchell: Medical Student, Harvard Medical School


Questions? Contact LuAnn Oros, Coordinator of Civic Engagement Programs.