Alumni Spotlight Gephardt News Gephardt Stories & Voices on Service

Notables: Joshua Aiken AB ’14 and Luka Cai ’20

News from Gephardt Institute alumni

Joshua Aiken AB ’14, an alumnus of the Civic Scholars program who was accepted as a Rhodes Scholar while a WashU senior in 2014, published an award-winning book of poetry, “to be in & of.” His poetry dives into the perils and contradiction of how Black life is grieved in American society and presses on the narratives of what it means to mourn, inherit, and belong. “to be in & of,” Aiken’s debut collection, was awarded the 2022 Palette Poetry Chapbook Prize. Learn more and purchase the tome here.

Luka Cai ’20 was recognized for their work in co-founding SQSH, the St. Louis Queer+ Support Helpline, by STLMade, a magazine that highlights the community and culture that make St. Louis a great place to live and work. Luka was a Fox-Clark Civic Scholar with the Gephardt Institute while at WashU, and during their Civic Summer worked with community members and organizations to establish queer-affirming support and resources for the region’s LGBTQIA+ community. Originally only a peer-support helpline, SQSH has expanded its programs and strategies to address the oppression, violence, and health disparities faced by queer St. Louisans. Today, SQSH aims to empower the St. Louis LGBTQIA+ community by building collective capacity for peer support, advocacy, storytelling, education, leadership, and systems change, centering Black and brown trans St. Louisans. Click here to read the piece, and click here to learn about SQSH’s journey.