CCAC, CCAC Public Relations:
PITTSBURGH—The Community College of Allegheny County enjoys a legacy of civic engagement on the part of its students. The college received a Bronze Seal (2016) and a Gold Seal (2018) for Excellence in Student Voter Engagement from the All IN Campus Democracy Challenge for achieving student voting rates above the average. This year, CCAC President Quintin Bullock was proud to sign on to the Presidents’ Commitment to full student voter participation in the 2020 election. This commitment was bolstered by the efforts of CCAC students Madysen Kelly and Sabrina Ukasik, who were selected by the Campus Vote Project to serve as Democracy Fellows. As such, they have assisted CCAC’s Civic Engagement Coordinator and History Professor Dr. Jacqueline Cavalier with student voter registration and student voter education efforts throughout the 2020 election season.
Campus Vote Project launched the Democracy Fellowship program in 2014. Since then, CVP has graduated 186 student leaders. Democracy Fellows play a critical role in motivating their peers, faculty and administrators to take part in nonpartisan democratic engagement activities on their campuses. They talk to their peers about registering to vote, educate them on election laws and what’s on the ballot, and make sure students at their campus are ready to engage with democracy. Fellows not only engage their peers in upcoming elections, they’ve been challenged to implement programs on their campuses that will remain long after they graduate and make an impact on students for years to come.
Despite the restrictions and the inability to gather in person due to COVID-19, Kelly and Ukasik organized student activities, including a virtual “Ask All” event, in which students had the opportunity to ask any questions they may have had about the election in a relaxed environment.
“Our ‘Ask All’ event was great! We had a blast speaking with students and opening up many conversations about the election,” said Kelly.
The goal of a Democracy Fellow, according to Kelly, is to help reduce barriers to student voting and be an advocate for classmates and peers by providing them with support and information during elections. The Fellows get training from representatives of the Campus Vote Project, and they get to speak with other CVP students from around the country. Both students received a stipend of $500 for their work.
Sabrina Ukasik, a Medical Laboratory Technology major, decided to get involved in the initiative after receiving an email sent to Honors students. “The election is very important to me,” said Ukasik, of McKeesport. “It is one of the most essential days for our democracy. I would like to share my passion with others.”
“It’s a really great way to connect,” said Kelly, of Bellevue, who is majoring in Early Education and Child Development. “This is the first year I’ve been able to vote in a presidential election. I love taking action and being able to support other people. My big goal is to continue working and to build a great foundation for future fellows. I believe this is really important, and I am excited to see where this goes.”
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