Last week, 18 inspiring student leaders representing 11 campuses across North Carolina graduated from the inaugural cohort of Citizen Redefined Camp, a civic leadership experience where they explored what it means to boldly show up for their campuses and communities as civic leaders. Over the course of the four-day camp, these students came together to ask themselves, “What does it mean to be a powerful, responsible citizen? And how can I be active in the process of creating the America that I want to see?”


Citizen Redefined Camp was an outgrowth of NCCE’s ongoing partnership with the national civic organization, Citizen University (CU), who designed the highly-immersive Citizen Redefined curriculum. In February & December 2023 NCCE hosted the CU staff for two train-the-trainer sessions where campus administrators learned the Citizen Redefined curriculum to take back their campus for implementation. Through the Camp, NCCE was excited to implement the curriculum in a unique setting which involved students representing campuses statewide.


CU’s mission is to build a culture of powerful, responsible citizenship across the country. They design gatherings, rituals, and workshops for people who are searching for new ways to strengthen civic culture in their towns. Through their programs, they spark new ways of thinking about citizenship, deepen the resolve to take responsibility, and rekindle faith in our democracy and one another.


Returning from an exciting Welcome Dinner, Citizen Redefined Camp participants kicked off their week of learning by reflecting inward to first make sense of their own civic beliefs, stories, and strengths. They practiced skills in communication and critical analysis, and thoughtfully unpacked the worldviews they carry with them.  


Once they laid the foundation for a deeper understanding of themselves, they broadened their perspectives to consider the role they play as citizens within our national fabric. Through hands-on activities and eye-opening discussions, participants were challenged to bring to light aspects of our collective civic life while reflecting on their own moral character. 


During a session on reading and practicing power, students’ creative talents were put on display through a series of musical and theatrical performances (hint: they involved barnyard animals!).


After days spent becoming equipped with leadership skills and forming new perspectives on what it means to work together and serve as citizens, the students were ready to claim their place in our nation’s civic life. 

The final day of camp, the Civic Confirmation Ceremony, was met with a unique mixture of emotion, pride, and hope for the future of our nation.

To mark their graduation into a new phase of citizenship, each of the 18 students spent time preparing a public declaration of their renewed civic identity: a statement of how they will commit to showing up for their campus, community, and country as a citizen. Poetry, personal stories, drama, music, and digital arts all graced the ceremony with meaning. Students shared their declarations with their cohort, mentors, and invited guests before concluding with a farewell reception.

North Carolina Campus Engagement would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the each of the powerful student leaders who had the courage to participate, the mentors who supported their experience, and to Citizen University for their inspiring leadership into a national movement towards celebrated, hopeful citizenship. A special thank you to Sarah Smith, Assistant Director of Civic Engagement at the UNC-Chapel Hill Campus Y for serving as a guest facilitator.