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“Civic engagement is a life-changing experience. It will change your studies. It will change your career choice. It will change who you are—and all for the better.”
Colin Sheehan
Political Science & Law
Rutgers University–Camden

Colin's Story

Before Colin Sheehan began studying political science in the Honors College at Rutgers University–Camden, he’d spent very little time in Camden. But that changed his first year when an adviser recommended he join the Civic Scholars program that gets students involved in the city. “On my very first project, we stood on a street corner and we had to ask people what their dream for Camden was,” said Sheehan, who is on track to earn his bachelor’s degree in 2018 and a law degree in 2020. “That was an eye-opening experience.”

That day was the first of many civic engagement projects in Camden for Sheehan, whose outreach has included work addressing homelessness, hunger, and education. He built on his experience to land a public policy internship in Washington on Capitol Hill for the National Network to End Domestic Violence in summer 2017. “My time in Camden has really shaped what I care about in terms of political science and also how I’m able to approach those things. I get to see a lot of socioeconomic and political issues firsthand and how they have impacted people.”

Civic Engagement & Research

Sheehan said the civic engagement opportunities at Rutgers–Camden have influenced him significantly. “Civic engagement is a life-changing experience. It will change your studies. It will change your career choice. It will change who you are—and all for the better. It will make your time here a lot more enjoyable. It gives you a commitment to the city. It makes me enjoy being in Camden a lot more.”

Sheehan also has been deeply involved in research. He worked closely with one of his professors and wrote for a blog regarding gender issues during the 2016 presidential election. He also assisted her in research for a book she was preparing for publication. “It has all been really valuable experience for me to see because I hope that in the future I will be able to do something like that,” he said.

Six Years to a Law Degree

A faculty member steered Sheehan toward the B.A./J.D. program. He finished his undergraduate work toward a political science degree in three years and will begin law school in fall 2017 as part of the dual-degree program allowing students to earn bachelor’s and law degrees in six years. Sheehan, who ultimately wants to work as a legislative aide in either the federal or a state government, plans to have his law degree in hand a few months before he turns 24. “The opportunity to do it in less time and for less money—I couldn’t really pass that up.”

Opportunities and Value

Sheehan said the cost of in-state tuition and the ease of commuting here from his home in Gibbsboro was “100 percent why” he enrolled at Rutgers–Camden. “Price was the deciding factor. I got into every other school I applied to. At the end of the day, looking at the cost, it was no competition.”

But even though the cost was less, the experience here is more than he believes he could have had at another college. “I’ve gotten opportunities at Rutgers-Camden that I would have never gotten anywhere else.”