Gephardt News Gephardt Stories & Voices on Service St. Louis Fellowship Program

Fellows impact STL by day, build strong friendships by night

St. Louis Fellows Nitzia Davalos Reyes ’24 and Yoana Zamora Miranda ’26 hit the gym and work out together in the evenings, after spending their days in respective internships at St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and the WashU Immigration Law Clinic.

What are Gephardt Institute’s Civic Scholars and Fellows doing in the evening when they’re not actively pursuing community and social impact? The answers are every bit as interesting and diverse as the students who offer them.  

For Demarion Delaney, a St. Louis Fellow, time away from work means time working on the “two man whole.” it’s a skating move which is a subset of a St. Louis skate style known as “crazy leg.” 

Delaney explained that while he has only been skating intentionally for about a year, he finds the sport to be an artistic outlet; a way to express himself and decompress. To Delaney, skating is so much more than a means to be active several times a week, and it operates as a cultural homecoming. 

“It makes me feel immersed within the St. Louis community. Skate culture in St. Louis embodies Black culture and makes me feel at home,” he said. 

Delaney’s favorite skate spots include Skate King, Coachlite, and the Dellwood Community Center. 

“Skate King and Coachlite have adult-only sessions where you see many people that are extremely talented and experienced skaters. Some of the best skaters there are over 50 years old,” said Delaney. 

Delaney knows the importance of learning and growing from the community, as he works for the labor and civil rights-oriented nonprofit Bread and Roses through his St. Louis Fellowship. The organization, he explained, has a series of artist-led workshops for St. Louis youth that uses the arts to facilitate a collaborative and comprehensive learning environment. For Delaney, work at Bread and Roses is often split between the main office and partner sites such as libraries and community centers around the city. 

In a similar pursuit, Civic Scholar Alex Shing spends his summer learning about environmental justice from a governmental standpoint. This includes working with the Environmental Protection Agency  in the hopes of establishing an Environmental Justice Academy in the East St. Louis community. Shing’s appreciation and love for the St. Louis environment does not end there, though. When he isn’t working with local stakeholders, Shing explores Forest Park to admire the fireflies’ light. Shing uses this time in the park to center himself and connect with the surroundings he strives to protect during the day. 

Alex Shing enjoys spending his evenings in Forest Park, where he practices mindfulness after his days spent interning at the EPA as a St. Louis Fellow.

“Outside of summer work, I want to change my mindset about being physically alone. I want to find peace and enjoyment in solitude,” said Shing. 

Civic Scholar Sylvie Raymond enjoys exploring features of the natural St. Louis environment, such as local pools and lakes. When she isn’t managing communications for The Luminary—an arts-based non-profit on Cherokee Street—Raymond is tending to a plot at her local garden. While she enjoys relaxing in nature and taking yoga classes, Raymond continues to learn in her time away from work. She is pursuing an English thesis next year and confessed that she spends a lot of her free time reading and researching to make progress on the project. 

Raymond isn’t the only Gephardt student with a green thumb. Yoana Zamora Miranda, a St. Louis Fellow, takes up gardening in her free time to support her love of cooking. Zamora Miranda grows herbs such as parsley and basil to use when making dinners with her roommate. She and her roommate come from differing cultures—Cuban and Vietnamese, respectively—and spend most nights delving into and sharing their cuisines with one another. For example, Zamora Miranda shared her family’s recipe of torrejas which, she said, is like French toast with cinnamon, marinated in syrup. 

“[The recipes] were passed down to me from my family, and it was so much fun to have her learn with me and for us to be able to share it with our friends afterwards,” she said. 

Zamora Miranda’s interest in other cultures is exactly what inspires her to work toward the goal she’s had since eighth grade: To become an immigration lawyer. As a St. Louis Fellows, she works at the Immigration Law Clinic at WashU, where she prepares clients for trials in Spanish and French.  

In addition to her heritage, Zamora Miranda embraced a new routine that includes working out at the gym with co-fellow Nitzia Davalos Reyes.  

Zamora Miranda explained that she likes to try a new machine at the gym every time, so she can learn more about the different alterations to her impending gym routine. 

Whether it’s honoring one’s heritage through the skating roots of St. Louis like Delaney, or finding a way to bring morsels of her culture to life in St. Louis like Zamora Miranda, the Civic Scholars and Fellows find time to make St. Louis their home.