Virginia State Capitol

Advancing a culture of civic engagement

Ever since she was inspired as a young teen at a career fair, alumna Alicia Jiggetts has wanted to pursue a career in law. But it wasn’t until her time at Richmond that she really connected that passion with the desire to help people through public policy and civic engagement.

At Richmond, Jiggetts was a Bonner Scholar with the Center for Civic Engagement, which meant she interned 10 hours a week for a nonprofit, school, or government agency as part of her scholarship. Her internships ran the gamut of social justice — from felon disenfranchisement and probation to unemployment and poverty. She was also a member of the WILL* program, where she explored her identity as a black woman, and served as editor of RVAGOV, a student-run website that covered local city council and school board meetings.

What’s the difference between volunteering and civic engagement? I distinguish the two. I’m not a volunteer; I’m civically engaged. Anything where you’re recognizing yourself as a member of the community is civic engagement.

—Alicia Jiggetts

All that experience taught Jiggetts to become hyper-aware of issues facing the city, from housing to education to transportation. And it led her to earn a Newman Civic Fellowship, a first for any UR student. As a Newman Fellow, Jiggetts was able to take what she learned in the city and apply it toward a broader scale, sharing her knowledge on topics like understanding college student apathy toward voting and getting people engaged. She was even featured on the organization’s podcast discussing campuses and their communities.

Along the way, Jiggetts began herself asking how to create a sustainable culture of civic engagement — not just at UR, but nationwide. To her, civic engagement happens when you recognize yourself as part of the community. Using that idea of what civic engagement really means and what it can do — and through avenues like the podcast — Jiggetts hopes to spread the culture of engagement within colleges and the communities around them.


Alicia Jiggetts graduated from Richmond in 2019 with majors in criminal justice and political science, as well as minors in women, gender, and sexuality studies; and law and the liberal arts. She is currently attending University of Maryland's Francis King Carey School of Law.

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