Five William & Mary students participated this summer in the Virginia Governor’s Fellows Program. The program, in its 34th year, selects participants from university students across the state.
William & Mary’s fellows, Brian Crowley ’16, Joshua Fleitman ’15, Quentin Jefferies ’15, Ashley Murphy ’15, and Felix Schapiro ’15, where among 34 participants in this year’s program. Over the course of the nine-week program that ran from June 1 to July 31, participants were immersed in the day-to-day operations of state government.
“We were very fortunate to have such a large group of talented W&M students among this year’s Governor’s Fellows,” said John McGlennon, professor and chair of government. “This experience is often formative. Over the years, I have seen so many fellows from the College go on to distinguished careers which they might not have considered without this window into state policy making at the highest level.”
Fellow are placed in different positions in the Governor's Office and in various agencies throughout the executive branch in Richmond. The William & Mary fellows had assignments in departments including the offices of the Secretary of Natural Resources, Secretary of Finance and Secretary of Commerce and Trade.
Crowley was among the program’s first cohort of rising seniors to participate in the program.
“The responsibilities and experiences that I had absolutely exceeded my expectations,” said Crowley, an economics major placed with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The research that my peers and I conducted was used on many occasions to craft larger presentations.”
This year’s Governor’s Fellows class included 34 total participants, all rising seniors or recent graduates from Virginia colleges or Virginia residents enrolled in out-of-state institutions. According to the program’s website participants, are selected based on demonstrated leadership abilities as well as their commitment to excellence in academics, involvement in extracurricular activities and engagement in community service.
The program attempts to match fellows with compatible assignments according to background, interests and future goals.
“Over the course of the summer I had the chance to visit numerous state parks and forests throughout Virginia, an organic farm, a Superfund site, and a barrier-island bird nesting site, among other things. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Fleitman, who was an environmental policy major at William & Mary.
The fellowships are unpaid but many of the schools, including William & Mary, provide stipends. For William & Mary participants that stipend was $2,000 per fellow this year.
“I’m grateful to both the College of William & Mary and the Governor’s Office for the opportunity to participate in this program,” Crowley added. “I think the biggest impact will come from just the people I’ve gotten to meet and interact with. I really believe that in 20 years I’ll be able to visit Richmond and see some of these people working in state government and excelling.”
Murphy noted the number of William & Mary alumni already working in the capital.
“I did not realize how many W&M alums worked in state government before the program! Many staff in the Governor's Office have a degree from the College, and I loved connecting with alumni,” she said.
For the fellows, the experience seemed as much fun as it was a good experience.
“I am proud to be part of the long history of the Governor’s Fellows Program,” said Fleitman. “I hope my first job is this much fun!”