Civic Engagement Pathway Program

The Civic Engagement Pathway Program introduces new students to a wide range of opportunities in Tacoma, supporting their transition to college and the Puget Sound campus, and building a community of support in their Pathway cohort. Not only do students learn about Tacoma and the Puget Sound community, but Pathway members are equipped to better understand themselves in the context of an evolving world and how they can be part of making the world a more equitable and just place. The Civic Engagement Pathway Program is a two-year, cohort-based, academic and co-curricular program for students who are in the first generation in their families to go to college and/or students who have been historically underrepresented at US institutions of higher education. Pathways creates a supportive and thought-provoking community for Pathways members and is designed to build on the unique skill sets and contributions of students in the program. Through experiential learning courses, volunteering, and field trips, students are prepared for their summer internship following their sophomore year. During this summer internship, students apply community and civic engagement practices and theory, while gaining job experience in a field of their interest. 

In the Civic Engagement Pathway Program, you will:

  • Develop community with a cohort of students who share similar interests.
  • Visit a variety of locations and community partners throughout Tacoma on class field trips.
  • Gain an understanding of self, identity, positionality, and ethical civic engagement.
  • Connect with the Tacoma community through civic opportunities, service-learning, and Loggers in Tacoma activities.
  • Engage topics of race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, etc. 
  • Attend on- and off-campus lectures and reflection with your cohort.
  • Use the Collins Library Markerspace to create artistic, visual representations of your learning and experience.
  • Be mentored by older students to support you as you transition to college.
  • Apply your learning to a career path through a summer internship following your sophomore year.
  • Practice civic discourse.
  • Receive a full unit of credit by the time of program completion.

When selected for the Pathway Program, students will automatically be enrolled in the first-year, quarter credit course, Community and the Self (EXLN 106). Cohort students will complete a total of four quarter-credit classes together over their first two years, culminating with the RISE summer internship program at the end of their sophomore year.

Student Experiences

“I felt like it would be a great way for me to become engaged with the broader Tacoma community at the very onset of my college career. Moreover, I thought this would be a good opportunity to meet other people who are interested in social justice and thoughtful civic engagement.” - Maya Horten '22

“I like community organizing and I think identity groups are really important to me in my life; having a space for activism and learning about activism is important.”​ - Adreanna Thompson-Paschetto, '21

“I would say I learned the most about exploring my biases from where I stand in the world and also exploring my identity more in the class; where I fall in society and how I can improve the way I act in situations of bias and discrimination. I learned about how I can try to help in situations where [bias] is happening." - Tessa Paulson-Palmer, '21

Program Logistics

The Pathway Program spans the first four semesters of a students' time on campus.  The first semester, admitted students are automatically enrolled in EXLN 106:  Community and the Self which meets twice a week.  As a cohort, students participate in a cohort retreat at the beginning of the first two semesters as well as off-campus excursions related to civic engagement and course content.  Students will also be connected to community partner organizations to volunteer at once a week.  Transportation support can be provided as needed.  Through ePortfolio reflections, students will connect course content and off-campus engagement.  Through collaboration with the RISE program, students will be helped in developing their resume, cover letters, and interview skills to land a summer internship following their sophomore year.

How to Apply

Eligible incoming first-year students may apply to the Civic Engagement Pathway Program upon completion of their application to attend the University of Puget Sound. Eligible students are students who identify as first-generation college students (students whose parents or guardians did not attend and complete college at a 4-year college) and students from minoritized backgrounds. Incoming first-year students are encouraged to apply here.