I am pleased to nominate Urban Stewart, a remarkable student at Arizona State University who has overcome extraordinary challenges to pursue his education and elevate those around him. Urban left school after 4th grade in order to work full-time and, despite overwhelming obstacles, ultimately completed his GED and went on to obtain his associate's degree. Urban is now pursuing dual bachelor's degrees in Global Politics and Business Management from the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU. In addition to relentlessly pursuing his own education, Urban has dedicated his life to advancing political participation and civic engagement, particularly among the millennial generation of which he is a part.
Recognizing that many of his peers were not engaged in democratic processes or even aware of many public issues which impact them directly, Urban created a social venture called MyGovUSA.org - an interactive social media platform that empowers users to vote on and share information about state level policy issues. Additionally, Urban assembled a coalition of partner organizations throughout ASU to collaboratively organize a university-wide student-led Civic Engagement Summit this Spring. The event will engage over 300 students in a day-long dialogue-based experience designed to promote a peer culture of civic engagement on campus and invite students to make personal commitments to action.
Urban's pledge to help others develop their civic identities and deepen their confidence in our democracy is timely and urgently needed as partisan politics increasingly alienate our citizenry from fulfilling their civic obligations. Urban's passion and leadership has the potential to influence thousands of students and young people at ASU, in our community, and beyond.
John F Kennedy once said, "Political action is the highest responsibility of a citizen." Growing up in a rural town in northern Arizona, the "help your neighbor" mindset was instilled in me. From my earliest memories, I can remember the whole family getting up early just to weed the front yard of a neighbor or making dinner for another family in need. Doing acts of service for my fellow man was just a way of life.
Despite moving away from home, I kept my drive for service. I soon was faced with the challenge of doing this in the political landscape when I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I started to see so many of my peers had no clue of the importance of being involved in their communities, or felt that they couldn't make a change. Seeing the divide between youth and our civic leaders created a fire within me. I made it my mission to educate myself so that I could educate those around me. I created the vision for MyGovUSA with the support of several incredible individuals.
Currently, with assistance from other student leaders and amazing ASU faculty, we are organizing a Civic Engagement Summit. Our goal is to create a strong network between all the ASU organizations and individuals working in Civic Engagement in order to create long-term solutions, and also to provide over 300 students the opportunity to learn how to get involved in their community and take action now to solve the challenges we currently face.