When Sandie Walker, ’05, was at UR — playing for the women’s basketball team, becoming a member of her sorority, and volunteering in the community — York, Pennsylvania, was never far from her thoughts.

“I knew that I was going to come back to York,” Walker said.

That feeling wasn’t due to a bout of homesickness; rather, Walker’s goal as a student was to help steward a brighter future for her hometown.

It’s one of the reasons that, as a talented high school student-athlete, she selected Richmond over other suitors. While she marveled at the campus upon visiting, favorably evaluated her opportunities for hoops playing time, and was enthusiastic about the overall academic environment and small class sizes, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies is what sold her on becoming a Spider.

At that time, Richmond was the only school in the nation to my knowledge that offered a major in leadership studies,” she said. “One of the main things I learned from Jepson is that change derives from when there’s a need for something. And when people have a need, they’re going to look for somebody to lead them to get to that common goal.”

After graduation, Walker harnessed the lessons she learned in the classroom to pick up the mantle of her late father, a local community activist, by starting her own nonprofit in York. That led to her serving on the city’s school board before moving on to City Council.

“I knew that I would lead somehow and be involved in my community,” said Walker, who prevailed in May’s primary election, all but assuring her a second term in office. “I didn’t necessarily think it would be in the political side.

It’s rewarding, but sometimes it’s just what I feel like I’m supposed to be doing.”