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For more than 85 years, the Institute of Government has worked with public officials throughout Georgia and around the world to improve governance and people's lives. From Georgia's early days as a largely agrarian state with a modest population to its modern-day status as a national and international force in business, industry, and politics with a population of almost 10 million, the Institute has helped government leaders navigate change and forge strong directions for a better Georgia.

New Vinson Fellows Recruited from Roosevelt Institution

Posted February 5, 2010
Contact: Roger Nielsen, nielsen@uga.edu; 706.542.2524

Four University of Georgia undergraduate students began work with the Institute in January as interns in the Institute of Government Fellows Program. During the spring semester, Elizabeth Allen, Catherine Mencher, Shayna Pollock, and Matthew Sellers will assist faculty-mentors with the hands-on study, research, and outreach of the Institute.

The Institute of Government developed the Fellows Program in order to involve high-achieving undergraduate students in its work. The program offers the students perspective into careers in public service. Students also gain valuable, real world experience working with and studying local and state governments.

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 (but not all) of its positions for top-performing students from the fall Roosevelt Scholars course.

Allen, Pollock, and Sellers were the first Fellows chosen in this way, due to their outstanding participation and enthusiasm in the public policy course. Although Mencher was selected outside the Roosevelt Institute partnership, she is also active in the organization and participated in the Roosevelt Scholars course in 2008.

Elizabeth Allen, who is from Atlanta, will work in the Institute’s International Center with its director, Rusty Brooks. She will graduate from UGA in 2010 with a double major in international affairs and economics.

Catherine Mencher, another Atlanta native, will assist Warren Brown, director of the Applied Demography Program, in studying the outlook for aging populations in Georgia and the surrounding region. Mencher will graduate in May with a double major in international affairs and political science.

Shayna Pollock of Sandy Springs, Georgia, will work in the Institute’s Environmental Policy Program with its director Rob McDowell. Pollock will graduate in 2010 with two degrees: one in environmental economics and management and another in political science.

Matthew Sellers, class of 2012, has been paired with faculty-mentor Harry Hayes to help with work on city and county consolidation studies. Sellers is from Perry, Georgia, and is majoring in English with a minor in chemistry.

“Engaging UGA’s undergraduate students through the Institute of Government Fellows Program has been a mutually beneficial experience,” commented Institute Director Steve Wrigley. “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 future careers 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 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. UGA undergraduates interesting in participating in the fall 2010 cohort of the Fellow Program should contact Maggie Holmes at internships@cviog.uga.edu.

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