Gephardt Institute selects new cohort of Civic Scholars, inaugural cohort graduates

The Gephardt Institute for Public Service has selected eight sophomores for its third cohort of the Civic Scholars Program. With its mission “to cultivate the next generation of civic leaders,” this program seeks students with exemplary scholarship, leadership and commitment to community engagement.

The new Civic Scholars will enroll in two years of academic coursework related to civic leadership and receive mentorship to prepare them for a life dedicated to public service. Additionally, the scholars are provided a $5,000 grant to carry out a civic project in the summer between their junior and senior years. These funds are provided in part by donors to the university’s scholarship campaign, “Opening Doors to the Future.”

Class of 2015 cohort of Civic Scholars:

Victoria (Tori) Bawel of Jasper, Ind., is majoring
in biochemistry in Arts & Sciences. She is interested in poverty
alleviation through science and medicine.

Madeleine Balchan of Springfield, Ohio, is studying
systems science and engineering in the School of Engineering. She hopes
to use system dynamics tools to examine the domestic food system.

Rachel (Rori) Bridge of Westborough, Mass, is double
majoring in global health and the environment and African and African
American studies with a minor in Swahili, in Arts & Sciences. She
plans to work in public health with a non-governmental organization in

Anirudh (Raja) Krishna of Solon, Ohio, is studying
economics, international and area studies, and Chinese, in Arts &
Sciences. He is interested in building social bridges through digital
literacy in St. Louis or a civic engagement program for students in New

Elliot Louthen of Riverside, Ill., is majoring in
political science with a minor in religion and politics, in Arts &
Sciences. He hopes to carry on his father’s work in community
development by utilizing economic redevelopment to revitalize overlooked

Reuben Riggs of Nacogdoches, Texas, is majoring in
anthropology and African American Studies, in Arts & Sciences. He is
interested in social justice and plans to address the stigma around
mass incarceration.

Seiko Shastri of Moorhead, Minn., is double majoring
in international and area studies and Spanish, in Arts & Sciences.
She hopes to promote intercultural dialogue on immigrant and refugee

Jason Silberman of Lincolnwood, Ill., is majoring in
philosophy-neuroscience-psychology and anthropology, both in Arts &
Sciences. He is interested in improving health care for individuals
with developmental disabilities.

Junior Civic Scholars embark on summer projects

Having completed their first year of coursework, the seven junior Civic Scholars are about to embark on their summer projects in cities ranging from St. Louis to Berlin. Their projects have been refined through a year of preparation, during which they have partnered with community organizations, written detailed proposals, and conducted workshops with campus partners. They will begin their projects with $5,000 in grant funding as soon as this spring semester concludes.

Inaugural cohort to graduate

As their second year in the program comes to a close, the inaugural cohort of five Civic Scholars is preparing to graduate. Their post-graduation plans include Teach for America, Harvard Medical School and the New York City Urban Fellows Program.

“The Civic Scholars Program helped me decide to pursue a career in medicine and identify ways to be a civic leader in that field,” said senior Andreas Mitchell, who, with fellow Civic Scholar Grace Chao, has been admitted to Harvard Medical School.

Through the program, the senior cohort has met with White House officials in Washington, D.C., planned a service project with a high school in the Mississippi Delta, and successfully carried out individual projects across the country and internationally.

Students interested in the Civic Scholars Program can apply in the spring of their sophomore year. For more information, contact Jenni Harpring, program manager, at (314) 935-8182 or