As soon as Bri Youn stepped foot on the IUPUI campus, her work ethic was evident, and her passion was palpable.
“I had the heart for creating change, but I didn’t have the how,” she explains. “The O’Neill School helped me learn how to translate my passion into power and purpose.”
Bri is part of O’Neill’s Accelerated Master’s Program, working on both her bachelor’s degree in Public Management and her MPA in Policy Analysis. She’s balanced the rigorous program while working in O’Neill IUPUI’s Development Office, participating in faculty research opportunities, and managing her own family.
In short, Bri is busy.
But she’s kept community engagement as a top priority—especially when it comes to ensuring students’ voices are heard.
“I am a big advocate for education and uplifting student voices, which is why most of my civic engagement happens here on campus,” she explains.
Bri helped establish O’Neill’s newest student group—the Students for Equity in Public Affairs (SEPA Indy) —in 2022. She’s part of the O’Neill Student Council leadership team, served on the Action Advocates committee for Women4Change at IUPUI, has created book clubs and hosted conversations on social issues, and even serves as a mentor for undergraduate students.
When Bri sees a need, she finds a way to address it.
“I was always taught that if something isn’t right, change it,” she says. “Civic engagement gives people a platform to do that. It opens the door to collaboration and innovation by creating a sense of connectedness and understanding.”
Her actions have echoed across campus. As a result, IUPUI chose Bri to be among 25 students to receive the William M. Plater Medallion for Civic Engagement, an honor reserved for graduating students who’ve shown an outstanding commitment to serving others.
“I was shocked,” Bri admits. “This is by far the most meaningful award I have received at IUPUI because it recognizes so much more than my accomplishments. It celebrates every person who amplified my voice and gave me a platform to do the same for others.”
Bri says the award not only serves as recognition of her past work, but also provides motivation for her future work. She hopes to complete her MPA in 2023 and go on to use her data and research skills in organizations that will have a positive impact on the world.
But she doesn’t want to leave her campus community without a call to action. That’s why she’s encouraging other students to do the work to create safe and sustainable communities wherever they may go.
“It’s imperative for all of us that students get involved in their communities,” she says. “Combining our unique abilities, perspectives, and experiences means we can make institutional impact. Your voice doesn’t always have to be the loudest or the most popular to be meaningful.”