Bush Students Seek to Boost Civic Engagement with Proposed Program for College Station

April 14, 2016

National Public Policy Challenge

Bush School students Allyson Bell, Will Dearmon, Priscilla Barbour, and Meghan De Amaral

A group of students from the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, have made improving civic engagement among college students the focus of a proposed program for the City of College Station. The group’s proposal, Lead CStAT (City and Students Advancing Together), seeks to promote civic engagement among off-campus Texas A&M students in College Station through community programming, voter education training, and cross-collaboration efforts among the governing body of College Station, students, and community leaders. The program provides a holistic perspective on governance and the importance of young people in both the electoral process and their community at large.

“This program would be a great opportunity for the city to engage off-campus students and integrate them into the community,” said Priscilla Barbour, a second-year Bush School student who participated in the project. Additionally, the program would promote the importance of being engaged citizens while promoting neighborly relations.”

The program was initially developed as a part of the National Public Policy Challenge, which took place in mid-March at the Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania, and was cosponsored by Governing magazine. The competition is modeled after MBA business plan competitions and invites public administration students to develop a policy proposal and civic campaign plan to better their communities. The four students—Priscilla Barbour, Allyson Bell, Meghan De Amaral, and Will Dearmon—competed against students from some of the top public policy schools in the nation, including public administration and public policy schools from the University of Georgia, NYU, Cornell, Georgetown, Columbia, Brown, and the University of Chicago.

“Participating in the National Public Policy Challenge was truly rewarding,” said Barbour. “I am excited that the Bush School was invited to attend and compete amongst the best policy schools in the country. The National Public Policy Challenge is a great opportunity for the Bush School, and I look forward to more students attending in the future.”

In early October, second-year students in the Department of Public Service and Administration were invited to try out for a place on the team; and the final group of students was selected the following week. Since late October, the group has met regularly to research the scope of the problem and put together a proposal to tackle the issue of declining civic engagement in College Station.

“The four Bush School students who put together this proposal have put a lot of hard work and research into their presentation,” said Professor Justin Bullock, the faculty advisor for the project. “They did all this while also juggling the responsibilities of capstone research projects, graduate assistant responsibilities, and the many other commitments second-year students at the Bush School have going on. I’m really impressed with their work ethic.”
Dr. Bullock says he has received a lot of support from the Bush School administration, including Dean Ryan Crocker, Executive Associate Dean Arnold Vedlitz, and Dr. Jeryl Mumpower, head of the Department of Public Service and Administration.

“The Bush School administration has been very generous in their support of the team and this endeavor,” said Bullock. “We had an excellent time participating in the National Public Policy Challenge, and we are looking forward to participating in future competitions for years to come.”

To view the group’s proposal, visit

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