Connecting With the Community: Reimagining Citizenship

Before Eric Poon joined the innovative Reimagining Citizenship program through Dominican and the City of Novato, he volunteered for a three-month service trip to Mexico, Peru, and Argentina and was inspired to help others.

“Before I came back from my trip, Dominican was at the top of my list of universities I wanted to attend.  I had just started the process of applying to Dominican when a friend of mine, a Dominican alumna, saw an article in the Marin IJ written about the Reimagining Citizenship Program,” Eric says. “She sent me the article, and I knew that this is what I was looking for.  It involved my city, volunteering, and the school that I wanted to attend.”

Eric, a business major, along with Novato High School graduates Scherina Chi, Fernando Flores Rugerio, and Cece Trifosa and San Marin High School graduate Jennifer Cortez were recognized on June 26 at a Reimagining Citizenship Scholars Award Ceremony at Novato City Hall. Dominican President Mary Marcy and Novato Mayor Josh Fryday presented the awards to the students.

The Reimagining Citizenship scholarship program allows undergraduate students to work with the City of Novato while earning a degree from Dominican. Dominican will provide each qualified Reimagining Citizenship Scholar with up to $100,000 in scholarship funding over four years. The City of Novato will provide a $10,000 stipend for internships to be completed over two sequential summers.


The program is open to high school students who are residents of Novato. Students attending any public, private, or home school program are eligible to apply. Students in any major can participate in the program. The internship component will begin this summer. The initial cohort will enter Dominican University as freshmen in fall 2018.

“It is an honor that we get to be the first students to pioneer the Reimagining Citizenship program,” says Scherina Chi, who plans to major in Biology at Dominican. “It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about local government and develop better and more professional communication skills all within your hometown. It’s not common to find such a hands-on learning experience like this.”

The students and the City of Novato are in the process of assigning roles for student internships. Fernando Flores, who intends to be a pre-med Biology major at Dominican, would like to serve in central administration communications, public works, parks recreation, or community services.

“I like to step out of my comfort zone, and this is one of those moments where I take the opportunity to do so. Since I have never done something like this, I think it will be an exciting experience,” Fernando says.

“I thought that this internship would be a great kick-start into community work and collaboration, and in helping me learn more about modern democracy,” says Cece, who will major in History at Dominican. “As a resident of Novato almost my entire life, I felt that attending a highly-regarded college in the area would help further my education and help me get acclimated to college life, while also helping improve my community along the way.”

The incoming students will choose from more than 30 majors. Each student also will receive credit toward Dominican’s minor in Community Action and Social Change. The minor provides students from all disciplines and interests a path toward deeper understanding of issues affecting communities and the nation.

  1. The program aligns with Dominican’s distinctive commitment to the Dominican Experience, a rich set of inter-connected experiences designed to enhance student learning and success in college and beyond in  today’s complex, changing, and diverse world.

“I’ve always been the type of person who wants to do more. Learning about how students were going to have the opportunity to become more engaged within the community really inspired me to want to be involved in this program, as well as to attend Dominican,” says Jennifer Cortez, who will major in Biology. “Having an opportunity to attend Dominican and study there is something I have always wanted to achieve. And now being able to get involved within the City of Novato and attend Dominican this fall is something that I am very grateful for.”


Photo posted with permission of Marin IJ

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