Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Announced as 2021 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Award Winner

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi received the Bronze Seal Award as part of the ALL IN-Campus Democracy Challenge, a nationwide contest that empowers colleges and universities to achieve excellence in nonpartisan student democratic engagement. The Democracy Fellows from the Campus Vote Project at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi earn the bronze-level seal due to their work related to the 2020 presidential campaign cycle. Bronze recognizes campuses with student voting rates between of 49.5 to 59.4 percent elections. This marks an increase on campus from 38.5% in 2016 to 56.7% in 2020.

Dr. Sanne Rijkhoff, TAMU-CC Assistant Professor of Political Science, is the coordinator for the Democracy Fellowship, a civic nonpartisan fellowship at TAMU-CC. Beginning in July 2020, she and then fellows wrote a voter engagement plan, organized voter registration and education activities, held debate watch parties, and distributed over 600 safe voting kits that included information about the local, state, and federal elections and a mask and hand sanitizer to make everyone able and comfortable voting in person.  

“I am passionate about civic awareness, democratic engagement, and political inclusion. The Fellows are an integral part of carrying out voter engagement and student empowerment and do so with a lot of enthusiasm,” Rijkhoff said. “I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Democracy Fellows, and it is my aim to keep encouraging Islanders to become involved and vote.”

Colleen Grace, political science major and member of the democracy fellowship, says her time as a democracy fellow has been a pillar of her Islander Impact.

“I really do feel that we made an impact on the voter turnout at our campus,” Grace said. “We loved those brief moments taken to explain – peer to peer – why it’s important to vote, or answering classmates’ questions. Dr. Rijkhoff supported us at every turn, offered suggestions when necessary, and fostered our development into effective leaders, both on and off-campus.”

Anthony Ortiz ’21 says the fellowship not only provided an opportunity for him to engage with current students but a chance to impact future Islanders as well.

“This achievement is important because we are the future, and we have the chance to make an impact,” Ortiz said. “The fellowship not only gave me the opportunity to learn about ways to get my fellow peers civically engaged in both local and federal elections, but also the chance to establish a coalition for future Islanders to increase our student body civic engagement.”

TAMU-CC is currently looking for students who want to become a Democracy Fellow in 2022. The position includes a $1,200 stipend. Interested students should email sanne.rijkhoff@tamucc.edu or visit https://www.campusvoteproject.org/democracy-fellows.