Andrea Hamre, one of eight Virginia Tech graduate students recently presented a Citizen Scholar Award, said she was surrounded by role models growing up in Roseville, Minnesota.
Her parents are public school teachers and her six older siblings have chosen service-oriented careers in fields such as education, public health, and social work.
“I learned early on that when we work hard we are our best selves and, therefore, better able to help others and serve in our communities,” said Hamre, who continues her family's tradition of public service, with an emphasis on environmentalism. “A common thread in my academic, professional, and community experiences has been a desire to be an ambassador and steward of good citizenry, to deliberately model the potential we all have to improve our communities,” she said.
After graduating as co-valedictorian of her high school class, Hamre interned with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and spent the following year in Thun, Switzerland, as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.
The notion of working to benefit others was further reinforced at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a minor in economics. Hamre said she was greatly influenced by her environmental economics professor, Jon Isham, who practiced a pedagogy oriented toward service learning and the scholarship of engagement, and motivated his students to reflect on ways they could live a life of meaning in the service of others.
While attending college she served on Middlebury’s Environmental Council and led crews with the Minnesota Conservation Corps.
After graduating, Hamre moved to Washington, D.C., and served with the U.S. Department of Justice. She became an avid bicycle commuter and began volunteering with Phoenix Bikes and the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Wherever she lives, she makes it a priority to seek out ways to genuinely connect with others and meaningfully engage in community conversations. “There is always an opportunity to contribute,” said Hamre.
Virginia Tech’s university motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) continues to inspire Hamre. While earning a master’s degree in applied economics from Virginia Tech, she interned with the U.S. Department of Transportation. She is currently a doctoral student in the Planning, Governance and Globalization program and a research assistant in the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in Old Town Alexandria.
For the past three years, she has served on the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board -- a forum for citizen input on regional transportation projects and priorities. She has provided comment on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metro Momentum Plan and the draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for the National Capital Region.
In 2014, Hamre, a resident of Alexandria, was also appointed to the city of Alexandria’s task force on Parking Standards for New Development Projects. She drew upon her familiarity with the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reference data regarding household vehicle ownership and applied her study of travel behavior to the task force’s efforts to adjust parking standards.
These two experiences earned Hamre the Citizen Scholar Award from the Virginia Tech Graduate School. The award recognizes students’ efforts to combine scholarship with community engagement. Hamre was the only student from the National Capital Region included in this year’s group of eight winners.
As a bicycle enthusiast, Hamre enjoys supporting opportunities for bicycling, especially among families and women. She volunteered as an officer of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee in 2011, and since 2013, she has served as a National Capital Region representative for the university’s Bicycle Ambassador Program. This includes promoting the region’s annual Bike to Work Day, scheduled this year for Friday, May 15.
“The cool thing about Andrea,” said Kris Wernstedt, associate professor of urban affairs and planning and head of Hamre’s dissertation committee, “is that she melds a passion for what she personally thrives on, biking, with a hard nose look at what works in the policy world to promote it, and what doesn’t. And then she takes her passion and skill set out into the community to make it a better place for bicycling.”
In May, Hamre will join the Transportation Planning Section of the Virginia Department of Transportation Northern Virginia District to support Transportation Demand Management and Alternative Mode programs, including the department’s Bicycle Locker Program as well as a variety of programs relating to van pooling, teleworking, and the integration of biking and walking with transit.
“I believe in promoting choice and using resources effectively,” said Hamre. “Multimodal transportation networks offer meaningful choices, and help us meet a wide range of goals surrounding efficiency, equity, and livability.”
Hamre plans to defend her dissertation in May 2016.