Trevin Stevens, '24, shaking the hand of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Governor's Fellow Trevin Stevens shakes Gov. Glenn Youngkin's hand. Official photo by Christian Martinez, Office of Gov. Glenn Youngkin. 


Trevin Stevens, ’24

August 23, 2023

The statistics paint a bleak picture of the city of Petersburg, Virginia: Chronic absenteeism for public school students is 2.5 times higher than the state average. Life expectancy is 12.9 years below the state average. Homicide rates are 900 percent higher than the state average. And so on. Now many people have joined forces to build a brighter future for the city of some 33,500 residents that lies a 30-minute drive south of Richmond.

A year ago, on Aug. 22, 2022, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin launched the Partnership for Petersburg, an initiative spearheaded by state, city, nonprofit, and faith leaders with the goal of transforming Petersburg into a thriving place to live and work.

This summer, Trevin Stevens, ’24, contributed to that effort while completing his Jepson School of Leadership Studies internship as a Virginia Governor’s Fellow assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

“The Partnership for Petersburg seeks to improve public education, health care, community safety, the local economy, and community relations,” he said. “I was part of a team of four that worked on recruiting a grocery store to downtown Petersburg, currently a food desert. When people can’t get to a grocery store to buy fresh produce, they eat fast food, which lowers their life expectancy. Until the government invests in infrastructure that addresses food deserts and other issues, things will never get better.”

Stevens said he also researched successful arts revitalization initiatives in cities like Austin, Reno, and Asheville, N.C., to see if something similar might work in Petersburg.

“I looked into who funds these projects and how they are implemented,” he said. “For example, could we ease the re-entry of formerly incarcerated people by employing them to clear vacant lots in preparation for public arts projects that would beautify the city?”

The leadership studies and political science major said he also researched other Virginia cities to determine which might benefit most from similar revitalization initiatives.

“Throughout my internship, I saw people working across the aisle to get things done,” the University of Richmond senior said. “The administration of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, is collaborating with the administration of Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham, a Democrat. Building relationships is really important. It was beautiful to see the hard work in action and to know that we were having a concrete impact on a community.”

Stevens said he hopes to parlay what he learned in his internship into a career in politics. Specifically, he may focus on health care law, an interest he developed after taking Dr. Jessica Flanigan’s leadership studies class Ethical Decision Making in Health Care and several of Dr. Jennifer Bowie’s law-focused political science classes.

“Whether I’m running for office or working for an administration, I want to make a difference,” he said. “It will never be about the money. My purpose is to ensure I’m improving the lives of others.”