Citizen Scholars Program Graduates Its First Students

The Citizen Scholars program, which launched in Fall 2016 to prepare the next generation of diverse, high-achieving, and engaged citizen leaders, has graduated its first three students.

A collaboration between all departments within the College of Arts & Letters, the Citizen Scholars program aims to help undergraduate students identify and achieve their goals while preparing them for meaningful careers and leadership roles in this complex and interconnected 21st-century world.

“Our students are highly motivated and successful as scholars and in their contributions to the communities they work with,” said Sandra Logan, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Citizen Scholars program. “Our first three graduates all completed their B.A. degrees in three years while combining their academic work with co-curricular activities that mobilized their skills, knowledge, and creative energy for positive social change.”

The first students to graduate from the program include:

  • Abigail Crick, B.A. in English and a minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • Christian Keathley, B.A. in Humanities Prelaw and a minor in Religious Studies
  • Allison Steffen, B.A. in Apparel and Textile Design and a minor in Graphic Design

“These students put into perspective what the Citizen Scholars program makes possible,” said Logan, who has been the Citizen Scholars Director since the program first began three years ago. “By helping students explore broadly to discover their passions, immerse themselves deeply in projects that feed to those passions, and put those passions to work in the world while they’re here at MSU, we transform their sense of their own potential and intensify their commitment to creating a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society.”

The Citizen Scholars program cultivates commitments to diversity, inclusiveness, social justice, and the positive transformation of self and society. Citizen Scholars also gain experience in high-impact learning environments such as study abroad, study away, internships, service learning in the community, and civic interactions. Students who complete the program receive a $5,000 scholarship to be used for study abroad, study away, undergraduate research, internships, or other enrichment opportunities.

We’re incredibly proud of how they’ve taken up the challenge of meeting program requirements while constantly pushing themselves to higher academic achievement, and while also reaching out to their peers at MSU, and to the communities they serve.

Dr. Sandra Logan, Director of the Citizen Scholars Program

“One of the most important aspects of the program is the supportive community we foster, which includes not only our advising and mentoring, but students mentoring each other as well. As they build the capacity for their own success, our students become both resources and role models for other students in the program,” Logan said. “We’re incredibly proud of how they’ve taken up the challenge of meeting program requirements while constantly pushing themselves to higher academic achievement, and while also reaching out to their peers at MSU, and to the communities they serve.”

While the Citizen Scholars program plans to continue to pursue the core mission of recruiting, supporting, and retaining students who have indicators of high promise, but who need additional encouragement and guidance to reach their potential, Logan says, it will look to expand the scope of its positive impact as the program grows and changes.

“Over the next few years, we’ll be working to raise awareness and recruit students who might not recognize the possibilities this program opens up for them. That has to be coupled with effective efforts to ensure that they have the guidance they need to succeed,” Logan said. “These are some of our major commitments for the next phase of the program.”

Abigail Crick

Crick was accepted into a number of prestigious law schools and has chosen to attend, on a full scholarship, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, which has a highly respected Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program and where she will have the opportunity to study law that affects Native Americans and work directly with Indigenous communities to improve their access to justice. Crick would like to become a legal advocate for Indigenous rights.

Photo of girl with short brown hair smiling wearing a black turtleneck
Abigail Crick

She used the funding she received from the Citizen Scholars program to complete a legal internship with Whitman Family Law and Conservation Partners in Traverse City, Michigan.

“I'm not entirely sure I could have funded some of the most impactful experiences of my college career without the funding support Citizen Scholars offers its students,” Crick said. “Thanks to the program scholarship, I was able to take a summer off work to pursue a legal internship where I was directly involved with Native American and Indigenous rights.”

During her time at MSU, Crick expanded upon her passion for poetry and Indigenous rights and completed two research projects related to those interests. She also connected with like-minded professionals through the Citizen Scholars program.

“The Citizen Scholars program has been an incredible source of community,” Crick said. “The program has connected me with incredible friends, fantastic academic peers, and helped myself and others to achieve the goals we set for ourselves and as a community of scholars.”

Christian Keathley

This summer, Keathley is traveling to Greece to study law as part of a five-week study abroad trip funded by the Citizen Scholars program.

Portrait shot of a man with brown hair wearing a deep purple colored sweater and necklace
Christian Keathley

"Study abroad is something I've always wanted to do, but never expected to participate in. That is, until the Citizen Scholars program helped me both foster an interest in other cultures and provided me with the opportunity to go on a trip via scholarship funding,” Keathley said. “Now, instead of simply spending my post-grad summer working, I'll be able to trek through Greece with my peers while studying law. Not only will this be a fun experience, but will teach me a lot I wouldn't have been able to learn in the traditional classroom setting and should prove to help me with future endeavors, like law school and career placement."

When he returns from Greece, Keathley plans to attend law school at the University of Michigan where he would like to study contract law.

“The Citizen Scholars program made my time [at MSU] a lot more positive,” Keathley said. “I would very much encourage anyone who is thinking about joining the program to do so.”

Allison Steffen

Committed to sustainable fashion design and design for social justice, Steffen hopes to one day design for a sustainable clothing company.

Photo of girl with long brown hair smiling wearing a green turtleneck with a gold necklace
Allison Steffen 

“The fashion industry is one of the worst industries for the environment, but the Citizen Scholars program has given me the skills to make connections, and I am hoping to use these skills to promote change within the industry,” Steffen said.

Steffen used her Citizen Scholars funding for an internship at Adrianna Papell, a clothing company in New York City that seeks to reduce environmental damage from the fashion industry.

“The Citizen Scholars program allowed me to live in the fashion capital of the United States and experience working in the field that I am passionate about,” she said. “Working for that company was such a rewarding experience. I learned so many life and job-related skills.”

Steffen said she was initially drawn to the Citizen Scholars program because of the importance it places on making an impact within your community.

“I have watched the Citizen Scholars program grow and change into a successful community of people who care about making a difference,” she said. “My biggest takeaway from having completed the program is to be engaged in your communities and with your peers and mentors.”