Samuel Jacobs from Grand Valley State University is a Public Administration major. As a member of a team of students dedicated to informing the campus community on the importance of voting, Sam pushed to highlight the reasons why democracy and civic engagement are such important components of active citizenship. Sam makes an effective advocate because of his ability to meet students where they are to create meaningful connections. In the age of COVID-induced virtual connection-making, Sam took to Instagram to discuss civic issues each week with GVSU students in a segment called “Tea Time.” Each week, Sam and his team would chat with GVSU students on this platform about topics such as voting, mental health, and navigating politics. Sam’s dedication to spreading the word about voting placed him on a national platform where he spoke to celebrity Selena Gomez about voting. This interaction grasped the attention of GVSU students and got them excited to participate in the democratic process. Sam is so effective in his efforts that he was invited to present at a state-wide conference to share details about various programs that he had done with the GVSU Community Service Learning Center with students from other Michigan universities.
I have been involved with GVSU's civic engagement initiatives, and I have learned a lot about what it means to be civically engaged. I have helped lead voter registration drives and various programs that are aimed at educating students and building knowledge in how to make an impact in their community. When a person is engaged in their community as an active citizen, they encourage others to do the same, and it creates a chain reaction that helps create a community of active citizens. Being an active citizen is much more than voting, it is serving and advocating for positive change. In my opinion, a major way to addressing root causes of social issues is by cultivating and mobilizing active citizens through community programs that are both democratically engaging to the participants and volunteers, but also encouraging for them to volunteer and help address needs of their local communities. This is something I want to do as a career in city management. By doing this, I believe I could help bring about social change on both the local and national level.