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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

UD political science major named Newman Civic Fellow

By Dave Larsen

University of Dayton political science major Jakob Burdick has been named a Newman Civic Fellow for his work as a voting rights and civic engagement advocate in the Dayton community.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a yearlong program that recognizes students who stand out for their leadership potential and commitment to creating positive change in communities. Burdick, from Beavercreek, Ohio, is one of 142 student civic leaders from 38 states, Washington D.C. and Mexico in the 2024-25 cohort.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to put to use classroom lessons that tie into my passion for civic engagement,” said Burdick, who will start his junior year at UD this fall. “I look forward to working with others to focus on the value of commitment to community partnerships and positive change.”

Burdick has a planned 4+1 major in political science with a master’s degree in public administration.

At the end of his first year at UD, Burdick was awarded a competitive summer internship through the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community’s Ethics and Leadership Initiative to work in the office of Dayton Mayor Jeff Mims. Burdick worked with the mayor and a senior aide to help craft the mayor’s youth commission and plan the mayor’s annual youth summit. He also attended meetings with community leaders and elected officials, and helped the community engagement staff canvass Dayton residential neighborhoods to spread awareness of the mayor’s town halls.

Burdick also participates in the Fitz Center’s Dayton Civic Scholars program, in which students make a three-year commitment to engaging and serving the Dayton community. He and his peers attend a weekly learning and leadership seminar that develops students as civic leaders by training them in reciprocal community engagement practices. Students in the program also complete 60 community engagement hours each semester supporting neighborhood associations, government organizations and nonprofit organizations.

In addition, Burdick is involved in UD Votes, a student-led initiative that encourages voter and civic engagement on campus and is connected to the larger national initiative, Vote Everywhere.

“I have long been interested in the voting process as a fundamental element of our democratic system,” Burdick said.

In a high school advanced placement U.S. government class, Burdick was surprised to learn that not every citizen has the same opportunity to cast their ballot due to such issues as polling places being changed, differing registration deadlines and different rules regarding absentee ballots.

“This lit a fire under me, inspiring me to become a voting advocate in my community,” he said. “I have focused on educating others through talks, volunteering for campaigns and going door-to-door to inform residents of upcoming elections.”

Burdick has carried this passion into his studies and co-curricular activities at UD. He plans to devote his work as a Newman Civic Fellow to this cause.

“What is remarkable about Jakob Burdick is the scope of his civic engagement work,” said Nancy McHugh, executive director of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. “From interning in the Mayor's Office, to his work with Dayton Civic Scholars, to his impact with UD Votes, Jakob models what it means to be a civically engaged person. I am excited to see how he grows even further in this work through the Newman Civic Fellowship and the even greater impact this will position him to have.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship is named for the late Frank Newman, a founder of Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities working to advance the public purposes of higher education. Each fellow is nominated by their campus president or chancellor, who is invited to select one exemplary community-committed student from their campus each year.

Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides students with learning and networking opportunities to help nurture their development as civic leaders.

The cornerstone of the fellowship is the annual Convening of Newman Civic Fellows, a three-day event that offers intensive in-person skill-building and networking. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive opportunities, including mini grants to help fund community projects, scholarships and post-graduate opportunities.

“We are honored to recognize such an outstanding group of community-committed students,” said Campus Compact President Bobbie Laur. “One of the best parts of the Newman Civic Fellowships is the richness of students’ perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds — and how these varied stories all led to their passionate engagement with the social, political and environmental issues impacting our world. These students will be the catalysts for change on many levels, and we are privileged to help empower them to create that change.”

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