In late August, the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement welcomed ten new student staff members to the team. Mariel Ehrlich, Ebee Grellier, Carly Klinenberg, Sam Martorana, and Thwisha Sabloak are undergraduates; and Emily Anderson, Shelby Banach, Ivy Blackmore, Rachel White, and David Zhai are graduate students at Washington University. This group of highly talented and civic-minded individuals increases the institute’s capacity for engagement of other students, faculty, alumni, and partners to foster a robust university-wide civic culture and impact. Over the course of the semester, they will work with professional staff to develop quality student outreach programs, research best practices, build out a new Engage Democracy initiative, and expand the institute’s partnerships on campus and in the community.
Mariel is a senior majoring in sociology and Latin American studies at the College of Arts & Sciences. As our Student Engagement and Service Coordinator, she works with student leaders throughout WashU to build and strengthen their community service and engagement efforts. She is also a resource for any new and returning students who seek to become engaged in civic engagement activities on or off campus. “I have spent the last few years making St. Louis my home, learning about its history and getting involved in nonprofits,” she said. “I hope to connect more students with St. Louis in a meaningful way.” When asked about her St. Louis bucket list, Mariel noted that she’d like to attend a Latin dance night at a local venue.
Ebee is a sophomore majoring in education and sociology at the College of Arts & Sciences. Prior to joining the team, she participated in Leadership Through Service and as an Each One Teach One tutor. As our Civic Engagement Fund Coordinator, she will support WashU students, faculty, and staff applying for grants up to $5,000 for civic and community engagement initiatives. She looks forward to learning about the innovative projects individuals develop and to playing a role in turning project ideas into action. Ebee is also interested in going to the top of the Arch.
Carly is a senior double majoring in political science and educational studies at the College of Arts & Sciences. She served as a Leadership Through Service pre-orientation program participant and counselor, Each One Teach One tutor, and Urban Immersion trip leader with a focus on education systems in St. Louis. In her role as Alumni Civic Engagement Coordinator, Carly will work with both the Gephardt Institute and the Office of Alumni Relations to connect with alumni and parents across the country to establish civic engagement partnerships in their local communities. She is excited to create an infrastructure for alumni interested in deepening their civic and community engagement experience after graduation. She also plans to visit the Soulard Farmer’s Market this semester.
Sam is a junior studying economics and organization and strategic management at the College of Arts & Sciences and Olin Business School. As a first-year and sophomore, he was a K-12 Ambassador for the K-12 Connections program. He is now serving as our K-12 Connections Coordinator, handling recruitment and organization for elementary, middle, and high school student field trips to WashU’s campus. He also plans outreach events like STEM and literary nights in local schools. This fall, he is hoping to explore the St. Louis Art Museum and other parts of Forest Park.
Thwisha is a senior majoring in biology and minoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies and anthropology at the College of Arts & Sciences. Between her sophomore and junior years, Thwisha participated in the Goldman Fellows Program summer cohort experience. Now, she serves as the Each One Teach One: Hawthorn InvestiGirls Coordinator. Hawthorn Leadership for Girls is a local charter school, and she will work with staff to implement a tutoring program during and after classes. She will also facilitate InvestiGirls workshops, which connect WashU student groups with young women at Hawthorn as they explore and develop co-curricular interests. “I am looking forward to building strong, meaningful connections with both the staff and students at Hawthorn,” she shared. “I love our partnership and seek to enhance it to my fullest capabilities.” In her down time, Thwisha hopes to visit the City Museum.
Emily is a graduate student pursuing a joint Master of Social Work and Juris Doctor degree at the Brown School and School of Law. She serves as our Civic Engagement Education Graduate Fellow and is responsible for designing an Engage Democracy workshop series to equip WashU students with the civic skills and knowledge to be active citizens at local, state, and federal levels. She is excited to develop a new opportunity for students to engage and explore what it means to be in a democracy. Emily is from St. Louis and recalls celebrating the Cardinal’s team during their World Series wins in 2006 and 2011.
Shelby is a first-year Master of Social Work student at the Brown School with a concentration in mental health. As a Masters Research Fellow, she joins a collaborative research team that manages all research, assessment, and evaluation initiatives for the Gephardt Institute. She looks forward to doing work and meeting people outside of the Brown School, and to visiting museums in Forest Park.
Ivy has a Master in Public Policy and is pursuing a PhD in Social Work at the Brown School. As our Graduate Research Fellow for Engage Democracy, she supports both Engage Democracy and the Graduate Evaluation and Research team in the assessment and evaluation of institute programs and initiatives. She will also develop an evaluation and reporting protocol that can be used across all Gephardt Institute programs. She looks forward to applying her evaluation skills to a local context and helping to address the need for constructively engaged citizens given the current political environment. Her favorite St. Louis memories to date involve everything that Forest Park has to offer, including art, picnics, a Wilco concert, and ice skating.
Rachel is a first-year Master of Social Work student at the Brown School. As our Gephardt Fellow for Engage Democracy, she will focus on engaging with graduate students in the process of democracy, from voter registration and turnout to civic education and training. She will also support the Engage Democracy team in broader projects and planning. “One of the things that drew me to the Gephardt Institute,” she shared, “is learning under the leadership of really thoughtful, civically-minded individuals. I’m also looking forward to learning more about how my peers think about and engage in democracy, both personally and in their careers.” Rachel will visit the Botanical Garden and enjoy fall weather in the months to come.
David is a third-year law student at the School of Law. He joined our team as a Graduate Research Fellow. He is evaluating the institute’s civic engagement initiatives and will consider ways to increase engagement moving forward. David is excited to collaborate with other research fellows and staff. When asked about his favorite St. Louis memory, he shared, “It was the first time I saw the Arch. It was amazing seeing it and the city after driving for nearly 20 hours straight.”
In addition to their substantive responsibilities, the team will receive routine access to mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities. The Gephardt Institute professional staff is grateful for the energy, talent, and professionalism that our students bring each day. “We take great pride in our Gephardt Student Internship Program,” said Stephanie Kurtzman, Peter G. Sortino Director of the Gephardt Institute. “Our interns have the opportunity for hands-on learning in a professional environment that aligns with their community values, at the same time that we gain invaluable talent that helps us prepare for the academic year and advance our vision.”