Invest In Me

Community committed

Scholarship helps graduate student take her commitment to her community projects to a new level

Amelie Rives (M.U.R.P.’21/GPA) came to the VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs with a passion for intentional community engagement. She was drawn to the school by its prestigious Graduate Scholars Fellowship program, where she knew she would have access to career-focused mentoring and experiential learning opportunities.

“The Wilder Fellowship had everything I was looking for in a graduate program,” Rives says. “You get hands-on experience practicing what you hope to do in your career, and I know that’s how I learn best.”

Wilder Fellows receive one year of tuition assistance, as well as a stipend during the academic year, in exchange for professional service assisting with special projects and providing program support to organizations that advance the public good. During her fellowship, Rives earned her master’s in urban and regional planning, while gaining valuable experience working with the VCU RVA Eviction Lab and Virginia Community Capital, where much of her work focused on inequity issues and community revitalization.

“Whether you’re a planner, a nonprofit professional or a corporate business developer, you need to intentionally and carefully engage community members,” Rives says. “My approach is to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table from the get-go. It’s important to make sure that community voices are central in changing the community.”

Rives’ dedication to her community projects earned her an additional scholarship from the Morton B. Gulak Associate Professor Emeritus Fund. The scholarship, paired with the financial support she received through the Graduate Scholars Fellowship, elevated her capstone project and gave her a sense of financial security that allowed her to take her commitment to her community projects to a new level.

“I was able to make a donation to extend my support for Virginia Community Voice, an organization I had collaborated with during my time with the Eviction Lab,” Rives says. “It was really important to me to value their time and the work they do with funding they can use however it’s needed. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to make that donation without my scholarship.”

Rives is thankful for the experiences she had as a Wilder Fellow and how they prepared her for an impactful and fulfilling career.

“The work we do in communities is change-making,” she says, “and I feel grateful that I get to do it.”