Upon learning that many students were losing public sector summer internship opportunities due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sorensen Institute joined with our sister organizations in the UVA Institute of Democracy to create the 22nd Century Scholars program, a five-week internship via Zoom for approximately 60 student interns. The program is so named because these scholars will, through their work, make a lasting impact on public policy that extends into the 22nd century.
Nine student interns (eight from the University of Virginia and one from William & Mary) are part of the Sorensen program, in which they are studying crises faced by the past six Governors of Virginia, hearing from speakers who were involved in the state's response to those crises, preparing a memorandum of best practices and effective leadership for those facing crises in the future, and preparing a presentation to the program leaders based on their memoranda.
In addition to studying past crises, the students are drawing parallels to crises facing Virginia and the nation today.
Students also participate in daily online seminars where they learn about Virginia history and engage in leadership development exercises. They also have assignments to volunteer in their own communities, and are mentored by professionals with public service experience.
In the first weeks of the program, Sorensen's interns have had the opportunity to hear from and pose questions to the Chiefs of Staff to U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (Mike Henry) and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (Mike Harney).
On the state level, they have heard from Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Chiefs of Staff to Governors Gilmore (Boyd Marcus), Warner (Bill Leighty), Kaine (Bill Leighty and Wayner Turnage), McDonnell (Martin Kent), McAuliffe (Paul Reagan and Suzette Denslow), and Northam (Clark Mercer). Denslow now serves as the first woman Clerk of the House of Delegates in the 400-year history of the General Assembly. Turnage now serves as the Deputy Mayor of the District of Columbia for Health and Human Services.
We are proud of our Sorensen internship cohort: Roark Corson, Nidhi Desai, Thomas Driscoll, Martha Gallagher, McClain Moran, Alec Scicchitano, Christine Shan, JaVori Warren, and Maggie Wells.
The Sorensen Institute would like to thank the UVA Center for Politics for their organizational efforts with regard to the 22nd Century Scholars Program. We would also like to thank the Danville Regional Foundation and the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce for their support of our work with the interns.