When a friend and mentor encouraged her to apply to the Governor’s Fellows ProgramSadie Gary, of Richmond, Virginia, a senior majoring in political science and sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, jumped at the chance.

“I really wanted to make the last summer of my undergraduate experience count,” Gary said, “so I put a lot of pressure on myself during the application and interview process. When I found out I had been selected it was this huge feeling of relief and joy. Knowing that I was going to be a part of such a prestigious program gave me this amazing feeling of accomplishment. After everything I had worked for in academics and campus leadership over the past three years, it felt like a huge success.”

The program offers a select group of outstanding and highly motivated individuals the opportunity to experience firsthand the administration of state government in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As a Governor’s Fellow, Gary spent last summer at the Virginia State Capitol in the office of the secretary of public safety and homeland security.

“We had brown-bag lunches almost every day with members of the cabinet and senior staff, so we got to learn from them directly about their role in the administration,” Gary said. “We also took field trips to learn more about the commonwealth’s natural resources and agriculture.”

One of the highlights of the summer was an impromptu interaction with Virginia Tech President Tim Sands.

“One day at work I walked down the hall to the copier. When I turned the corner I looked up and was face to face with President Sands,” Gary said. “I stopped and introduced myself to him, and he chatted with me, asking about my Virginia Tech experience and what I was doing in the governor’s office. I couldn’t believe that I was standing in the office of the governor talking to the president of my university. It was such a crazy, cool moment for me.”

Gary is an individual with a passion and a desire to bring about change in the world.

“There’s very little in this world that I don’t have an opinion about or feel invested in,” she said. “I think that’s because I care about making the world a better place by working to solve issues of social justice facing our communities. I’m Jewish, and in Judaism we have a saying called tikkun olam, meaning ‘healing the world.’ I’m passionate about tikkun olam. I want to dedicate my life to public service so I can hopefully leave my communities a little bit better than I found them.”

Gary has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her entire college career. She is a member of three honor societies at Virginia Tech. She is women’s caucus chair and college caucus chair of the Virginia Young Democrats. She previously served as the president and vice-president of the Young Democrats at Virginia Tech.

Gary is also involved in Student Government Association at Virginia Tech and is director of Virginia21, an organization focused on young voters.

Taking part in the Governor’s Fellows Program led Gary to decide to pursue a career in state government. She hopes to attend law school or graduate school to study public policy after she graduates this spring.

The Governor’s Fellows Program is now accepting applications for summer 2017. Applications are due March 15.

Governor’s Fellows are chosen based on demonstrated excellence in academics, leadership, and service. More information about the Governors Fellows Program is available online.  

Written by Hayley Paljug, of Radford, Virginia, a recent graduate in public relations in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences