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Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program


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What would the world look like if you had 24 hours to change it?

The prestigious Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program honors the legacy of Howard Peters "Pete" Rawlings and the work he did as a Maryland delegate. Participants in the Fellows program are provided multiple opportunities--both academic and experiential--to grow as ethical leaders and become champions for those whose voices may otherwise go unheard in the leadership and decision-making process.  Maintaining a commitment to those historically underrepresented in leadership positions is central to this program.

If you have at least two semesters remaining at the university and a commitment to public leadership, you are strongly encouraged to apply.   Fellows design and implement their own community action projects, take courses on leadership, serve at an internship, and meet elected officials, community advocates, and non-profit leaders. 

Program Structure

The Rawlings Program is a holistic experience comprising two consecutive semesters.  Students apply in the spring for the cohort that enters the following fall.  Participants begin the program with an inaugural team-building challenge course at the UMD Outdoor Recreation Center.  Specialized activities and experiences throughout the year-long fellowship further empower students to learn about ethical leadership and advocate for issues important to them.  Successful participants earn a Certificate of Completion and recognition at an annual ceremony at the Maryland School of Public Policy.

Semester One (FALL): Fellows take a three-credit leadership course, PUAF 302, “Leadership: Philosophy, Policy, and Praxis,” which introduces them to public policy and social justice issues. Structured as a 15-week lecture and discussion series, the course empowers Fellows to engage directly with leaders from local and federal government, from the non-profit sector, from the University of Maryland campus community, and of course, with their peers.  The course also includes journal exercises, in-class debates and other structured discussion activities, and a final project and presentation outlining the Fellows' community action projects.

Semester Two (SPRING): Fellows select and take a three-credit PUAF course related to public leadership.  In addition, they pursue an internship in Annapolis during the legislative session, on Capitol Hill, with a federal or state agency, or with a recognized non-profit entity dedicated to "the public good."  To receive credit, Fellows enroll in PUAF349 for either three credits, corresponding to 120 hours spent at their internship, or six credits, corresponding to 240 hours spent at their internship.  Finally, Fellows attend monthly leadership-development workshops, participate in site visits to Washington, D.C., and Annapolis, and conclude their community action projects. 


Program Benefits

  • Teambuilding activities

  • Mentoring relationships with elected officials, state leaders, and community advocates

  • Access to renowned leadership scholars and policy faculty

  • Site visits to public and non-profit entities

  • Work on a community action project

  • Placement in a political or non-profit internship

  • A Certificate of Completion

  • Participation in courses and conferences designed to promote a greater understanding of leadership in public life


Apply for the 2014-2015 Cohort!



Congratulations to the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 Rawlings Fellows!




Where Are They Now? Rawlings Fellows Alumni Spotlights

Shavon Holland, Cohort 2007


Adriana Gonzalez, Cohort 2011


Jacqueline Cangero, Cohort 2012

"The blending of courses, experienced practitioners, and mentoring offered through the Rawlings program provided the realization that public policy is the foundation of society.  Culture, economic viability, and human rights all depend on the development and implementation of effective public policies. 

Having completed the Rawlings program and obtaining a B.A. in American Studies, I began working as a Management and Program Analyst for the U.S. Department of Education and knew I needed to increase my knowledge and skills on the role of government in public policy.  The Rawlings program helped me see the possibilities for effective change that public policy offers and led me to enroll in the Executive Master of Public Management program in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. 

I am proud to say the Rawlings program started me on the path of obtaining a Master’s Degree in spring 2012, with the purpose of implementing effective public policies!”


"Rawlings has given me a strong framework on how to work on the most important and pressing issues in the United States. Through the various discussions that we had, we learned more than just factual information. We were able to share different perspectives on the same issue and hear from people who have had first-hand experience trying to resolve those issues.

The biggest challenge I encountered in Rawlings was to learn how to work in groups. Today I am working towards using leadership tools such as agendas, deadlines and accountability checks while working on group projects to get the job done.

I've learned that to make the world a better place we need to be able to work towards a common goal, set aside our differences and help each other in the path to success."



“I graduated in May 2013 (from the University and Rawlings). I am currently a first year law student at Boston University School of Law.
“Rawlings taught me the importance of working in groups.  Outside of the program, I had very few group projects in my college career.  I also do minimal group work in law school (so far).  However, group work is ESSENTIAL to being a great attorney and professional.”
Asked to offer advice for current and prospective Rawlings students, Jacqueline says, “You can't do everything on your own!  Networking is vital to success in the professional world.  Always make sure to make a good impression and follow up with the people you meet.”