Gephardt Institute selects new cohort of Civic Scholars

The Gephardt Institute for Public Service at Washington University in St. Louis selected eight sophomores for its fourth cohort of the Civic Scholars Program. With its mission “to cultivate the next generation of civic leaders,” the program seeks students with exemplary scholarship, leadership and commitment to community engagement.

Civic Scholars 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, scholars receive a $5,000 grant to complete a civic project in the summer before their senior years. Donors to the Gephardt Institute provide part of those funds.

Class of 2016 cohort of Civic Scholars:

• Shyam Akula, of Arcadia, Calif., is majoring in biology with a neuroscience focus, in Arts & Sciences. He is interested in using analytical data and the arts to strive for educational equality.

• Kierstan Carter, of Woodbridge, N.J., is majoring in American culture studies, in Arts & Sciences. She hopes to bridge academia and community action through a focused civic engagement high school summer program.

• Cameron Kinker, of Rye, N.Y., is majoring in anthropology, in Arts & Sciences. He hopes to alleviate issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth facing homelessness.

• Jagdeesh Kottapalli, of Milpitas, Calif., is majoring in biology. He intends to work with street vendors in Hyderabad, India, to create cost-saving business models.

• Brianna McCain, of St. Louis, is double-majoring in biology and in women, gender and sexuality studies, also in Arts & Sciences. She plans to address minority underrepresentation in advanced high school classes while also addressing sexual assault.

• Nick Okafor, of Dallas, is double-majoring in mechanical engineering, in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and in sustainable development, in Arts & Sciences. He hopes to apply his academic interests to support infrastructure development in favelas, or shantytowns, in Brazil.

• Carrick Reddin, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., is double-majoring in architecture, in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, and in international and area studies, in Arts & Sciences. He hopes to engage youth in the worldwide development agenda through urban design.

• Rachel Sumption, of Redding, Calif., is majoring in the interdisciplinary project in the humanities, in Arts & Sciences. She hopes to find a way to address the perceived gulf in understanding between people from Muslim and Western backgrounds.

Having completed their first year of coursework, the Class of 2015 Civic Scholars are about to embark on their summer projects in cities ranging from St. Louis to Cochabamba, Bolivia. Their projects have been refined through a year of preparation, during which the scholars partnered with community organizations and wrote detailed proposals. They will begin their projects as soon as this semester concludes.

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