Last week, the Office of Community Engagement hosted our annual celebration of active citizenship. We invite all students, faculty, staff, and community partners to come together in recognition of the important work of the past year. No blog post can encapsulate the many things to be celebrated, so I am just going to highlight four of the students who were recognized and what active citizenship means to their William & Mary story.
Torie Dunlap shows up time again for her many communities. Since her first day in 7 Generations, she has committed herself to growing her active citizenship, going from participant to leader in both Branch Out Alternative Breaks and Griffin School Partnerships.
“I strive to not just give everyone a seat at the table, but also hand them megaphones to let their voices be heard loud and clear. My experiences at William & Mary and with the Office of Community Engagement have taught me that active citizenship is not a badge of honor to be worn or a box to be checked, but a never-ending process of learning, growing, and acting. I know that I am leaving college as a truer version of myself than when I arrived: an active citizen committed to celebrating community and striving for justice.”
Jennie Cuddeback, President of W&M Circle K International
“Active citizenship is not a box to be checked with meaningless service projects. It cannot be achieved with an attitude of self-promotion or superiority. It’s about truly engaging with people and tackling real systemic issues, one person and one shared moment at a time. I am proud to call William & Mary home because our campus is built on a strong understanding of community and selflessness, and I am thankful that my time here will inspire my call to serve for years to come.”
Aria Troupe is a student coordinator of Branch Out Alternative Breaks and a member of MANOS, a community-based research team partnered with a rural community in Nicaragua.
“I’ve spent this year re-evaluating my priorities and life trajectory. While I’m still an international relations major, and the major has given me an incredible understanding of the intricacies of society, I’m not planning on doing international work post-grad. Rather, Branch Out has connected me with my life-goals as an active citizen. This summer I will be interning at OAR of Richmond working in their Violent & Serious Offender and Substance Use Offender programs, a nonprofit that operates in the Richmond area as a resource for people who are or were previously incarcerated. I believe this is a social justice issue and community that is most often, and too often, left out of discussions on social justice.”
Abby Fitzsimmons has, in her first year, canvassed for a local candidate, participated in the Aim 4 civic leadership program, joined HOPE, volunteered weekly with Greater City and Griffin School Partnerships, and participated in an alternative break.
“I do not exaggerate when I state that I have truly enjoyed every single one of my service experiences over the past seven months, and I am glad that I have had the chance to get involved—such opportunities are not afforded to everyone. Everyday I strive to ensure that both the people I’m working with and the people I work with and the people I serve feel valued, validated, and feel heard.”