Adam Schmidt, an NC State civil engineering major with a minor in Chinese studies, was recently announced as one of 16 sophomores across the U.S. selected for the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program.
The program, which commenced its fourth cycle on May 26, 2018, is a fully-funded six week summer institute and leadership development experience outside of Washington, D.C. modeled upon President George Washington’s “bias for action.” The program includes a stipend and focuses on studying and applying Washington’s leadership characteristics and vision to each student’s leadership style and drive.
Schmidt is the first person from NC State to be selected as a Mount Vernon Leadership Fellow. In spring 2017 Samuel Shain became NC State’s first semi-finalist for the program.
Over 900 rising college juniors submitted applications this winter to be 2018 Fellows. Selection criteria includes U.S. citizenship, proven leadership ability and involvement, a strong academic record, and demonstrated interest in a proposed capstone project.
Schmidt, 20, of Morehead City, NC completed high school at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. At NC State, he is a Caldwell Fellow, participated as a 2017 Orientation Leader, and is part of the University Scholars Program. He was recently elected as Student Government Senate President and has served as a senator for the College of Engineering and as the Student Senate President Pro Tempore. Schmidt plans to get a head start on his Student Government duties later this summer before working on transportation planning and economics research in the fall with Eleni Bardaka, assistant professor in the Department Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.
Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows are paired with a mentor who will provide support and guidance for self-designed capstone project connected to an issue of passionate interest. Schmidt, who is interested in the intersection of engineering, public policy, service, and urban design, plans to use his time as a Fellow to create closer connections between students and the elected officials that serve the students’ local districts.
“For my capstone, I hope to identify and implement best practices that will spur opportunities for collaborative civic engagement in cities with multiple universities so that students might better make their voices heard in local government,” said Schmidt. “I hope that by using Raleigh as a pilot, I will then be able to create a guide that could be shared with other students across the country to empower them to do something similar in their own cities.”
During the program, Schmidt and other Fellows will meet with top leaders spanning government, nonprofit, and corporate fields. They will also live and learn at the Mount Vernon estate and take part in a dynamic leadership education curriculum. Alumni of the program have gone on to publish books, start nonprofit organizations, and develop college courses.
“I chose civil engineering specifically because of its interface with the public sector and my interest in large-scale infrastructure projects,” said Schmidt when explaining his long-term goals. “Decisions made by engineers and policy makers have massive impacts on the systems and infrastructure that affect every member of society, yet I think there is a significant disconnect between the individuals making policy decisions and those engineering technical solutions. I hope to find a career that focuses on bridging that gap.”
Students interested in learning more and applying for next year’s cohort are strongly encouraged to first contact the University Fellowship Office.
The University Fellowship Office (UFO) helps NC State’s undergraduate students, graduate students, and alums learn of and apply for nationally competitive and prestigious awards. These awards fund a wide range of opportunities, and many are connected to undergraduate and graduate degree programs or internships, overseas opportunities, and independent projects.