The Citizen Alum project seeks to create networks of publicly-minded alumni, from grassroots leaders to highly visible professionals, as stewards of place. The project recognizes the value of alumni’s civic agency, diversity, wisdom and creativity—to the region and to current students.
In the words of Dr. Julie Ellison, Citizen Alum founder and national director, publicly-engaged alumni are “allies in education—crucial partners in building multigenerational communities of active citizenship and active learning.” Born at the American Democracy Project’s (ADP) June 2011 national meeting, Citizen Alum affiliated campuses across the country today are listening to alumni stories, highlighting their public achievements, organizing public service activities, and facilitating new civic action networks.
Citizen Alum at Metropolitan State University
Dr. Danielle Hinrichs course has integrated a Citizen Alum interview as an assignment in her course, WRIT 231: Focus on Community Engagement, providing a curricular model that has been adopted at several other universities across the country. The interviews serve a course goal of teaching students how to use a range of primary research sources in academic writing and, through a reflective assignment, help them illuminate and critically examine their own perspectives on civic and community engagement. To date, students have submitted 78 Citizen Alum interview transcripts, which additionally form the basis for a new dimension to Dr. Hinrichs’ scholarship and teaching practice.
Armed with a questionnaire and guidance in conducting effective interviews, students consistently report incredibly positive, sometimes transformative results from their interviews with an alum of their choice—grassroots activists, professionals in diverse fields, public officials and community “movers and shakers” of all kinds. Surveys show that students:
- deepen first-hand knowledge of public issues, fields of interest and professional pathways
- find motivation and can imagine new ways to integrate their own civic passions into their personal and professional lives
- form new relationships, often across difference in age, ethnicity and experience
- take greater pride in being part of the Metropolitan State community
Are you looking for a way to stay connected to Metropolitan State, share your story and, perhaps, cultivate a deeper civic ethos among our graduates? If you are engaged in solving public problems, personally or professionally, and are willing to devote an hour of your time to a Citizen Alum interview, please contact us and join this growing network.