Community Involvement

Sylvia Gale

Sylvia Gale, Director of University of Richmond's Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, helps students get involved and become agents of change in their new communities. She offers the following advice:

"New college students are often also becoming members of a larger community that is new to them. The first year is the perfect time to begin exploring this new place, becoming comfortable getting off campus—whether by foot, bike, car, or public transportation."

"While it’s great to get to know the major landmarks or popular destinations in your new city or community, new college students should also look for ways to experience the place more deeply. Sometimes your college’s center for civic engagement or student involvement will offer excursions to special neighborhoods, events, or community discussions. There may be opportunities to volunteer with an organization involved in issues you care about or are interested in."

"Whatever you do, look for opportunities to listen to long-time residents who know the place far better than you do. As you experience this new community, ask yourself: What is it like to live here? How do people in different parts of this place experience it differently? College is a time for discovering who you are in the world—and this includes learning how to enter any new community—as a good listener and an eager learner."

Contact Sunni Brown, director of media and public relations, at to connect with Gale.