Community engagement is the lesson plan for SPEA students — and David Lewis has taken his plan to the streets.
Lewis, is one of four SPEA students to earn the prestigious William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion. The award recognizes IUPUI students who demonstrate a commitment to their communities. The medallion is named in honor of IUPUI’s former Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculties, who was a strong advocate of civic engagement during his career.
“I was astonished that someone recognized the work I was doing in various communities,” Lewis says. “I intentionally try to work behind the scenes to push the overall goals of an organization and support its efforts. I truly view myself as another member of that community, not as being at the forefront of the group.”
Originally from Merrillville, Lewis says being the oldest of four boys helped him learn to look for the humanity in others.
“I’m truly passionate about bringing like-minded individuals together to change this world,” Lewis says. “This world should be a haven for everyone, regardless of their differences.”
Lewis’ passion for community prompted him to travel to Indianapolis to pursue his degree in public affairs at SPEA.
“I was searching for a program that would give me a taste of not only the policy process, but also the interaction of individuals with nonprofits and businesses,” he says. “I see my SPEA degree as a mixture of the business program and the political science program in one.”
His academic plan has allowed him to maintain the best of both worlds while graduating from college in three years and continuing his commitment to community service.
“Many of my classes in SPEA have stressed the importance of civic engagement in the context of public policy and public service,” Lewis says. “The political action and civic engagement course provided a wonderful opportunity to participate in weekly civic engagement. Whether I was in a community discussion about immigration rights or learning about Indiana’s redistricting process, the experiences showed me the importance of being involved in a community.”
Lewis stresses that other students should understand that helping the community also helps them in return.
“By understanding their passions and desires, they can use that energy to create communities that are assets not only to those they serve, but also to themselves,” he says. “They also will experience a sense of joy and fulfillment just by giving to others. It is truly one of the greatest blessings we have in life.”
Lewis plans to intern at a corporate law firm in Chicago to gain a better understanding of his career path. This fall, he also plans to continue his education through a juris doctor in law and master in public policy joint degree program.
“Civic engagement has taught me the importance of public service” he says. “It shows me that no matter what career on which I embark, I can always be involved in a community.”
Lewis and other Plater Medallion recipients will be honored at a campus-wide reception on Tuesday, April 10.