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ASPiRE Students Attend Active Citizens Conference

Active Citizens ConferenceOn Feb. 17, eight ASPiRE students attended the annual William & Mary Active Citizens Conference. This year's theme, "The Skills of Freedom," gave students an opportunity to think about what it means to freely assist in the liberation of communities through service. The keynote speaker was Justin Reid, a cultural preservationist and public historian of Virginia civil rights and education history and director of African American programs at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He told the story of how Virginia teenager Barbara Johns spearheaded a student strike that would lead to the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education.

Students attended workshops throughout the day led by the peers from universities across Virginia. This included a presentation by ASPiRE students Sravya Dhavala and Daniel Ruiz. Sravya and Daniel, both first-year ASPiRE students, presented about the impact of mass incarceration on communities. The interactive session was attended by nearly 50 students and included an in-depth discussion of ethical scenarios. Tyheem Thompson, another first-year student, was inspired by the presentation and what he learned. He encouraged students in attendance to put their discussion into action and encouraged them to welcome formerly incarcerated individuals back into the community.

At the conclusion of the day, ASPiRE students were re-energized to continue serving the Richmond community. Second-year ASPiRE student Kendall Leek commented that it was "nice to meet students from other universities who do not think doing service in your free time is strange."

All the students agreed that it was a Saturday well spent.