Gephardt News

Institute celebrates 2023 graduates and wraps up school year

On Monday, May 1, students gathered with Gephardt Institute staff on the Stix House patio for our Year-End Celebration, which brought together the whole Gephardt community of changemakers.  

The celebration recognized all students who have participated in Gephardt Institute programming over the course of their time at WashU, and honored our 2023 graduates. Whether they were in a Civic Leadership Program, served on our student staff or as a WashU Votes volunteer, or participated in events such as Civic Café, all the Gephardt affiliated students were celebrated at this new annual tradition.  

After brief remarks, each graduate shared an insight for younger students in the crowd.  

“My advice would be to always be teachable. You’d be surprised how much you can learn by coming into every experience, hoping to learn something from the people around you, from the experience itself, and to learn something about yourself. So always be teachable,” said St. Louis Fellow alum, Aaliyah Allen.  

Graduating Civic Scholar, Kayla Arenschield suggested, “My advice would be to be kind to yourself and the people around you. Give yourself grace when you need it and they will give it back to you.” 

The graduating students were then given graduation cords and presented with a specially curated gift bag. “Inside you’ll find seeds so you remember your roots, a sticker so you can represent St. Louis with pride, a local treat to nourish your growth, and custom postcards so you can tell us where you bloom,” Student Engagement Specialist Sophie Devincenti said of the gifts. 

In addition to the ceremony, students and graduates enjoyed lawn games, local food, mocktails, and each other’s company. Post-graduation plans were casually discussed, and included various civic pathways such as pursuing an MSW at the Brown School, teaching high school math in Boston, and taking a gap year back home to figure out what comes next.  

Graduate Ranen Miao captured the collaborative spirit of the event in his advice. “Remember that all of our destinies are intertwined because I think sometimes it’s easy to forget how interconnected we all are,” he said.