After publication of this article, Kate McDaid learned she was the recipient of a 2022 Newman Civic Fellowship. Joining a cohort of nearly 200 college students across the country, McDaid will have the chance to engage in a yearlong program featuring virtual learning and networking opportunities designed to provide personal, professional and civic growth. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities. Callie Jordan ’23 was a Newman Civic Fellowship recipient last year. Learn more at Campus Compact.
Kate McDaid came to the University of Mary Washington to make a difference. Her classmates would show her the way.
Inspired by her fellow students’ strong sense of service, McDaid followed suit. The UMW junior found purpose by getting involved – and secured an internship with a nonprofit that encourages civic engagement among students. Now, while the philosophy major earns her own college degree, she’s working to pass legislation to help others make the most of theirs.
At Virginia 21, McDaid has gained insight into the inner workings of state government, zeroing in on a bill that would ensure college graduates can receive their transcripts and diplomas, even if they still owe a debt to their institution.
“Giving young people access to these documents will help them reap the benefits of their education,” said McDaid, who has friends working several jobs but still needed loans. “This will help them secure employment so they can pay back the funds they borrowed.”
McDaid, who hails from Williamsburg, Virginia, wasn’t always politically active. But when she learned about Mary Washington from her college counselor, the University’s focus on service and citizenship won her vote.
“Seeing my peers who were so committed to Community Outreach and Resources inspired me to want to be like them,” said McDaid, who serves on COAR’s council and participates in service projects through UMW’s Center for Community Engagement.
She also joined UMW Votes, Young Democrats and People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual Minorities (PRISM), and recently became the associate director of Bookmobile Fredericksburg, which a fellow student launched last summer. “I’ve found a community that was welcoming and has given me opportunities to excel,” she said.
At UMW, McDaid is minoring in practical ethics and social justice. She said that courses she’s taken with Professor Emeritus Craig Vasey and Professor Jason Hayob-Matzke have taught her how to think critically, make a persuasive argument and explore the kinds of ethical dilemmas she may encounter in government.
“Kate asks thoughtful questions, makes interesting connections and analogies, and sets her goals high,” said Hayob-Matzke, who serves as her advisor. “Her persistence leads to success and sets a good example for the rest of us.”
Now, McDaid is putting her skills to work at Virginia 21, where she started last spring as a student advocate and moved up to a leadership position within a few months, before beginning her internship. She researches bills that impact college students, tracks legislation through the General Assembly, strategizes with staff and lobbyists, and meets with legislative assistants to state senators and delegates.
“It’s been great being part of that inner circle and watching how fast-paced things can be,” said McDaid, who anticipates that the legislation will get through this session.
Meanwhile, the experiences she’s getting at UMW and through the Virginia 21 internship are preparing her for a master’s degree in public policy and perhaps a law degree, said McDaid, who aspires to keep working in the nonprofit sector. “My studies and service have given me the chance to explore careers where I can help pass fair legislation that gives people the benefits everyone deserves.”