Cierra White ‘23 had never been to the state capitol in Richmond before this summer. But now the recent Longwood grad is getting a unique, behind-the-scenes opportunity to learn about state government while working in Gov. Glen Youngkin’s administration through the prestigious Governor’s Fellows Program.
White is among the participants selected for the program, joining some of the best and the brightest students in the commonwealth. The summer program, which runs through the end of July, offers rising college seniors, graduating seniors and graduate students from across Virginia an opportunity to gain valuable, firsthand experience working under cabinet secretaries and alongside staff in the governor’s office.
The Governor’s Fellows Program is a unique opportunity for Virginia students to experience public service first-hand and gain essential work skills for their future.Gov. Glen Youngkin Tweet This
“We are excited to welcome the next generation of leaders to kick off their careers with our administration,” Youngkin said. “The Governor’s Fellows Program is a unique opportunity for Virginia students to experience public service first-hand and gain essential work skills for their future.”
A native of Franklin, Virginia, White was a member of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars majoring in political science and sociology with a minor in history with a pre-law concentration. She plans to enter law school in the fall of 2024 and eventually aspires to become a prosecutor.
I’m really looking forward to learning directly from sources that are working in policy and doing advocacy work.Cierra White ‘23 Tweet This
“I’ve always been interested in politics because I knew I wanted to go to law school,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to learning directly from sources that are working in policy and doing advocacy work. I’ll also be interacting with people who are going to law school or have been to law school and getting advice from them. It will be a great networking experience.”
White is assigned to the office of Secretary of the Commonwealth Kay Coles James, who is part of the governor’s cabinet. Among the duties of the secretary of the commonwealth is to assist the governor in his appointments of nearly 4,000 individuals to serve on state boards and commissions. The secretary is also involved in restoration of civil rights, managing extraditions, clemency petitions, service of process, certifying notary publics, handing lobbyist registration and disclosures and conflict of interest filings.
“This is a major accomplishment for Cierra and speaks volumes about the work she’s done at Longwood and her potential,” said Dr. Scott Grether, assistant professor of sociology and White’s academic advisor. “Moreover, this is the embodiment of the university priding itself on developing good citizen leaders.”
While at Longwood, White has been an active student leader on campus, serving as an SGA senator, as a member of Mortar Board, and on the student advisory committee for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
Established in 1982 by then-Gov. Charles S. Robb, the fellows program brings exceptional students from colleges and universities across the commonwealth to Richmond for two months to work in state government. By working daily alongside policymakers, the students get to experience governance firsthand. The fellows cultivate and sharpen leadership skills by taking on a variety of tasks and projects—becoming valuable members of the team and tackling real problems. They also learn from special guest speakers from the administration. The program is open to students from Virginia universities or Virginia residents attending college outside the commonwealth.