Alexis Tatum, The Univerity of Texas at Austin
I loved my time as a Texas Civic Ambassador because the program helped me to understand civic engagement deeply and see it practiced in several different ways. Throughout the year, I got to witness exemplary leadership on other Texas campuses from my fellow TCAs and receive support in preparing my own civic project from the Annette Strauss Institute. Sadly, I was unable to execute my civic project that was scheduled for the Spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am still incredibly grateful for the experience of researching and practicing for my presentation because I gained a vital understanding of what it means to practice civic engagement in my community with my personal experiences and education. I came into the programming feeling unconfident in civic and political engagement because I studied journalism, where objectivity and non-bias is vital. Through Texas Civic Ambassadors, I learned that civic engagement doesn’t have to be choosing a political party to represent or one singular cause to take up. Civic engagement means investing in your community and its needs; it means educating yourself and others so that we all can advocate for ourselves and others with understanding and consideration.
One important thing about TCA that I don’t think is spoken about enough is the enthusiasm. Everyone in the program loves civic engagement, but the staff and associated leaders really pushed us to understand what it looked like in our everyday lives and how powerful it is to share enthusiasm about civic engagement! We didn’t just learn about it; we learned why it was important and how to share that enthusiasm with others.
I am so thankful for this program, the people I met and the opportunities that opened up because of it. My only regret is that I couldn’t finish out the year with my cohort.