Two Virginia Tech students have been selected for the prestigious Governor’s Fellows Program, which offers a select group of outstanding and highly motivated individuals the opportunity to experience firsthand the administration of state government in Virginia.

Alex Apollonio of Moseley, Virginia, a senior double majoring in political science and history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Anjelica Smith of Chesapeake, Virginia, a graduate student in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, are spending the summer working alongside government officials in Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office and other agencies within the executive branch. 

Smith and Apollonio were among 34 Virginia students who were selected for the opportunity. Governor’s Fellows are chosen based on demonstrated excellence in academics, leadership, and service.

“Aside from the experience I hope to get, I’d like to gain as much insight as I can into what can be done at the state level to improve Americans’ lives,” Apollonio said. "It seems to me that state and local governments – though often overlooked – have the most immediate impact on the day-to-day operation of our society and, therefore, are in a particularly good position to bring about positive social change.”

Apollonio is vice president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, and is also a member of Pi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. He was elected to the Student Government Senate and will serve in that capacity during the 2015-2016 academic year.

In 2014, Apollonio got a firsthand look inside national politics when he was selected to participate in Hokies on the Hill, a program in which students work on Capitol Hill, learn about the U.S. Congress and politics, and gain real-world experience in the nation’s capital while earning class credit.

“Being able to work in Washington and meet so many truly fantastic people was a dream come true,” he said. “Even a year earlier, I never would have imagined that I’d be able to take part in something so incredible.”

Apollonio plans to continue his education at law school. “Assuming all goes well there, my next goal would be to acquire a judicial clerkship. After that, I’m not quite sure,” Apollonio said. “The idea of representing the underrepresented really appeals to me, and there are many opportunities out there where I can do exactly that, especially with a law degree. I can certainly say that I’ve grown a lot as a person during my time at Virginia Tech – intellectually, socially, and otherwise – and I’m proud to say that I feel equipped to face whatever challenges may lie ahead. I’m genuinely excited about what the future holds."

Smith completed her undergraduate education at Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2014 and stayed in Blacksburg to pursue a master’s degree. This summer she is a member of the communications staff in the Office of the Governor. 

She will make the most of her Governor’s Fellows experience by learning as much as possible before she gears up to start her thesis next year. “I hope my experiences this summer will be informative for future research opportunities,” Smith said. "I'm passionate about helping others understand and get involved with the institutions that represent and serve them. It is why I have been so involved with student governance and why I am interested in working in government one day."

Smith held multiple positions in the Student Government Association during her time as an undergraduate student, including vice president and co-director of student outreach. “I cannot imagine Virginia Tech without my involvement with the Student Government Association as an undergraduate,” Smith said. “I was able to learn a great deal about Virginia Tech and it put me in a position to be able help others have a better experience. I learned a lot about myself, too.” She served as secretary for Virginia Tech’s Graduate Student Assembly during the 2014-2015 academic year.

The Governor’s Fellows Program began on June 1 and continues through July 31. More information about opportunities in government, governmental issues, public policy, and law is available on the Virginia Tech Career Services website, which offers job, internship, and career information.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Gus Wagner of Stafford, Virginia, a senior majoring in public relations in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.