Gephardt Institute selects first Civic Scholars

Program designed to prepare the next civic leaders

The Gephardt Institute for Public Service at Washington University in St. Louis has selected seven juniors for the inaugural cohort of the Civic Scholars Program.

The students were chosen from a competitive pool for their outstanding qualifications and exemplary dedication to community engagement.

Civic Scholars will enroll in two years of academic course work related to civic leadership and receive mentorship to prepare them for a life dedicated to public service.

Each student will receive a scholarship of $5,000 to support a substantial civic project or internship during the summer after junior year.

“I applied to the Civic Scholars Program so I could connect to others thinking about entrepreneurial solutions to the issues facing the St. Louis community and beyond,” says Madeline Polk, a Civic Scholar and a junior in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

“I could not be more thrilled to tap into the collective genius of my peers and create impactful initiatives for the next few years and after.”

Civic Scholar Peter Birke, a junior in Arts & Sciences, shares Polk’s enthusiasm.

“I am excited to embark on the Civic Scholars experience due to its collaborative structure that combines intellectual pursuits with a strong sense of social action,” he says.

“I am really looking forward to the opportunity to partner with and learn from such a thoughtful and passionate group of peers.”

The Civic Scholars Program is part of Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University. For more information, contact Jennifer Harpring, program manager, at (314) 935-8182 or

The inaugural Civic Scholars:

Birke of Madison, Wis., is majoring in economics with a minor in public health, both in Arts & Sciences. He is interested in working with both government and nonprofit agencies to implement the federal health reform law in Missouri.

Grace Chao of Princeton, N.J., is double-majoring in anthropology and biochemistry, both in Arts & Sciences. She is interested in decreasing health disparities by researching how African-Americans perceive the health care system.

Michael Harries of Plymouth, Minn., is majoring in biology in Arts & Sciences with a minor in public health. He is interested in understanding how to maximize nonprofit structures through an internship with a leading organization.

Pia Marcus of New York, N.Y., is majoring in international studies in Arts & Sciences with a minor in public health. She is interested in implementing nutrition education in rural Africa.

Andreas Mitchell of Ellicott City, Md., is majoring in anthropology. He is interested in exploring advocacy for underrepresented populations through an internship in government or the nonprofit sector.

Polk of Nashville, Tenn., is majoring in systems engineering, with a minor in entrepreneurship. She is interested in improving the usage of bicycle infrastructure in St. Louis through a project that emphasizes bike economics, sustainability and community.

Joe Sutherland of Sarasota, Fla., is majoring in political science in Arts & Sciences with a concentration in domestic public policy. He is interested in working with local public officials and government organizations in an effort to unify and streamline local municipal institutions.