Campus News

Vinson Institute expands public service with new Fellows program

Vinson Institute expands public service with new Fellows program

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government has expanded its public service program to involve UGA undergraduate students.

This is the first year of the Vinson Institute Fellows Program, which provides high-achieving undergraduate students with insights into careers in public service. Students also gain valuable, real-world experience working with and studying state and local governments.

For spring semester, four undergraduate students began work with the institute in January as interns. Elizabeth Allen, Catherine Mencher, Shayna Pollock and Matthew Sellers will assist faculty-mentors with the institute’s training, technical assistance and research activities.

For the selection of this semester’s class of interns, the Fellows Program, in cooperation with the university’s Honors Program, developed a partnership with the UGA chapter of the Roosevelt Institution, a nationwide network of student think tanks. The Fellows Program reserved a few of its positions for top-performing students from the fall Roosevelt Scholars course.

“Engaging UGA’s undergraduate students through the Vinson Institute Fellows Program has been a mutually beneficial experience,” said Steve Wrigley, institute director. “We hope that the program is an educational introduction to the inner workings of state and local government for the students and that they contemplate jobs in this area. We at the institute have gained a great deal from the new and interesting perspectives that the students bring to the table.”

The Vinson Fellow’s placements within the institute align with their academic areas of study. Allen is working in the institute’s International Center and its director, Rusty Brooks. Mencher is assisting Warren Brown, director of the Applied Demography Program, in studying the outlook for aging populations.

Pollock is interning in the institute’s Environmental Policy Program with director Rob McDowell.

Sellers is paired with faculty-mentor Harry Hayes to help with work on city and county ­consolidation studies.

The current class of Vinson Fellows is the second group to go through the program. The inaugural class, which included students Andrew Laarhoven, Lauren Pinson, and Yasmin Yonis, completed the Fellows Program in December.

The program will continue to choose some members of its future spring semester cohorts from the Roosevelt Scholars course. For the fall class, the program will select all candidates from the general student body.

The Vinson Institute also seeks to engage graduate students as a cosponsor of UGA’s Master of Public Administration program and through providing a range of assistantship opportunities.