Grad student receives Florida Gubernatorial Fellowship
TAMPA, Fla. -- University of South Florida student Samantha Stratton has been awarded a Florida Gubernatorial Fellowship and will spend nine months in Tallahassee interning in Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
Stratton, 22, graduated from USF last year magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration, and during the fellowship program, she will be a transient student at Florida State University. The non-partisan program immerses fellows in state government, and they receive extensive on-the-job training plus a unique view of the goings-on in our state capitol.
“It will be absolutely incredible to work with the governor,” Stratton said. However, Stratton added that she is most looking forward to working with the other fellows.
Stratton said she found out about the fellowship program only a few days before the application was due, but cleared her schedule and completed her 12-page submission. After two sets of interviews and a month of waiting, she found out she was accepted on June 19. The program runs from August 10 to May 10, and will consist of group work under the governor and independent work in her respective department. Students from different disciplines are awarded the fellowship, but “an interest in government is what brings them together,” Stratton said.
Growing up in the 5,000-person town of Waupaca, Wis., Stratton spent her summers in Florida. She had heard of USF from family friends and was impressed by the university’s global connections. She was voted Miss USF and designated a Top 5 “Most Outstanding Graduate” in 2011. Stratton spent this past summer back in Wisconsin interning for Congressman Reid Ribble doing constituent work and even drafting letters on the congressman’s behalf.
Fellows will have weekly meetings with the governor and travel to Washington, D.C. twice during the program. After graduating in May 2014, Stratton would like to live in D.C. and gain experience at the federal level before returning to Florida. She wants to run for office and work in the Executive Office of the Governor, Department of Economic Opportunity, or the Department of Children and Families. She has been an ESL tutor for five years and plans to focus on childhood literacy.
The fellowship was started eight years ago by former Gov. Jeb Bush, and this is the second year in a row there has been a representative from USF.
“I’m going to build relationships with those whose beliefs are opposite from mine and those who are aligned,” she said. “I’m looking forward to healthy debates and discussions, and helping other people learn, too.”
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Author: Jordan Smith