Atticus Rice
Atticus Rice (David Sinclair photo)

Atticus Rice "practically grew up outside," running, hiking and biking. His love of nature has continued into adulthood — in January, the McDaniel College junior traveled to the Peruvian Amazon for Jan Term — but these days his focus is a future in public service or politics.

Rice, of Portland, Oregon, is majoring in Communication and political science with a minor in journalism and new media. On campus he is a writer and editor for the McDaniel Free Press student newspaper, he leads the McDaniel ultimate Frisbee club and is president of the Honors Program, as well as co-president of the McDaniel delegation to the Maryland Student Legislature, according to a news release from the college. He has also served on the college's honor and conduct board and has worked for the Office of Student Engagement, as the annual giving phone center supervisor for institutional advancement and as a research assistant in the English department, according to the release.


Rice is president of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) national service fraternity. In his sophomore year, he traveled to West Virginia over spring break with other McDaniel students to work on community outreach projects. And as a junior, he applied and was awarded a Griswold-Zepp Award from the college to organize an alternative spring break experience for APO members. The group volunteered with various nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Carroll County Food Sunday and Carroll Hospital, according to the release.

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Most recently, Rice was named a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow, which, according to the fellowship's website, is "a one-year fellowship experience for community-committed students from Campus Compact member institutions that supports students' personal, professional, and civic development." The Times caught up with Rice to talk about his most recent award.

Q: How does it feel to be named a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow? What will this fellowship help you do?

A: It's an incredible honor. Once I knew the college was nominating me for the honor and all of the nomination materials were in, waiting to hear back — and knowing the exact date was over a month away — was probably the most nerve-wracking experience since waiting to hear back from colleges as a high school senior. Two years ago one of my mentors and someone who I look up to with all I've got, Samantha Yates, received the honor at McDaniel and hearing her speak about why she does what she does really made me think about how we live and give back to our communities. While I have to admit that the Newman has been at the back of my mind ever since, it feels really great to be recognized by the college that has truly helped shape who I am, provided me with so many great opportunities, and introduced me to so many incredible people like Sam.

One of the stated goals of the Newman is to provide learning opportunities focused on the skills we need in order to serve as agents of change in our communities. Part of what excites and interests me about this fellowship is the opportunity to get more experience and training in addressing public problems and issues plaguing our communities. I hope that the fellowship will provide me with these skills and experiences as well as push me to better myself and those around for the benefit of serving the communities that help shape who we are.

Q: Tell me about your work in the alternative spring break experience? Why did you want to help organize it? What do you think it taught you?

A: This was my second year participating in an alternative spring break experience, but my first year taking a leadership role. Last spring a group of us traveled to Gary, West Virginia, thanks to the leadership of one of my incredible service fraternity brothers and it was an incredible experience. While we weren't able to replicate the trip, I wanted to be able to give the campus an opportunity to put some of their spare time to good use and connect with one another and our community while giving back. Inspiring leadership and friendship through service has become such an important pillar in my life (and happens to be one of the core values of the service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, that has come to shape so much of who I am) and being able to facilitate that experience for others is truly a blessing. Beyond working with others and begging people here and there for various things, organizing this experience has taught me the importance of engaging with one another and giving back in whatever capacity you can.

Q: Why do you think giving back to the community is so important? In what ways do you work to give back?

A: Even if it's just a little at a time, it's so important to give what we can because a culture of giving is what drives community. Our word would be a very different place without those who step up and give back, so I believe it's our duty to do what we can and inspire those around us to do the same. While we don't necessarily realize it, we take and learn so much from our community, so when we get the chance, it's nice to turn around and put something back in.

While I hope to be able to give back on a more public and professional level one day, I do what I can while in school. I joined Alpha Phi Omega during my first year on campus and was immediately surrounded by leaders who cared and wanted to give back. Through the service fraternity I have become connected with various nonprofits and groups throughout Carroll County which has been incredible. I have had the opportunities to work with children at the Boys and Girls Club and at the Arts Council; provide support to Carroll County Food Sunday, the ARC of Carroll County, and [Human Services Program of Carroll County]; work with the Red Cross and the American Cancer Society; and connect with many other local groups. Beyond on-the-ground volunteer work, putting together programs like the alternative spring break and other leadership and service-based opportunities has been one of the most rewarding ways to give back because it's allowed me to put a lot in from behind the scenes and be able to see direct impacts as they unfold before me.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduation?

A: Plans keep changing, but I would like to eventually pursue a graduate-level degree within Communication, Political Science, Public Policy, or Education. I don't yet know if that will come in the form of law school, a Political Communication Ph. D., or a master's or Fulbright program in one of those fields, but I'm determined to make it happen and have no doubt that it will. I've got an incredible network of supportive professors, mentors, and friends and know that they'll all come together to help me achieve what I set my mind to.