22nd Century Scholars Program


The University of Virginia's Center for Politics, the Weldon Cooper Center/Sorensen Institute, the Miller Center, the Democracy Initiative, the Batten School, and the Career Center teamed up to offer a first-of-its-kind virtual public-sector summer internship program to help students who lost 2020 summer internships due to COVID-19. The program continues this year thanks to a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust.

Applications for summer 2021 are due on May 21.

2021 Program:


The five-week long program will be open to 50 currently enrolled UVA undergraduate students (rising Second, Third and Fourth-Year students) who are interested in working in the public sector. Each student will be assigned to one of five public-sector units of the University; the Center for Politics; the Miller Center; the Democracy Initiative; the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; and the Sorensen Institute.

Through this innovative program, students will gain hands-on experience and will have access to additional resources, such as career development sessions led by the UVA Career Center and webinars and networking opportunities with policymakers, non-profit leaders, and other guests. Each student will be paired with a UVA alumnus/a mentor.

This program will be conducted remotely in 2021. Students will be invited to an in-person reception in the fall of 2021.


The internship is five (5) weeks long.

During the first three weeks of the program, students will work at their designated participating unit. Programming criteria and internship requirements will vary by unit, but students may be tasked with submitting a final project such as a white paper and/or a digital exhibit and/or a digital conference (open to the public) on themes to be assigned at the unit level.

Student interns will work with supervising units to assist in specific unit-level projects and will also assemble weekly on designated days for hour-long, day-specific educational programming.

During the final two weeks of the program, the entire cohort will come together to work on a virtual exchange program with a delegation of undergraduate students from Iraq.


May 6, 2021: Call for applications

May 21, 2021: Applications close

June 1, 2021: Decisions announced

July 1 - August 6, 2021: Internship program dates


Each student selected for the program will receive a $2,000 stipend for the five-week internship payable at the end of the program.


Apply by downloading, filling out, and submitting the application form (available on the Miller Center website) to Stefanie Georgakis Abbott at sg9mj@virginia.edu. Deadline for submission is Friday, May 21, 2020.


Each student will be assigned to a participating unit, based on their indicated preferences on their application.

The Center for Politics: The University of Virginia Center for Politics is the nation's preeminent institution for the study and promotion of civics education and political participation. Founded in 1998 by University Professor Larry J. Sabato, the mission of the Center for Politics is to educate and inspire the public to actively engage in practical politics and other civic affairs through programs that are unique, compelling, and open-minded.

The Miller Center: The Miller Center is a national, nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation's governance challenges. Our scholars engage in research and writing that provides unparalleled insight into contemporary public policy debates. We are the sole source in the country of the oral histories of each presidential administration since Jimmy Carter's and the annotated transcripts of the secret White House recordings made by Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership: The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership was founded in 1993 to bring together diverse individuals with a passion for politics and public service. All have a wide variety of viewpoints and backgrounds but want to work together for the common good. Our non-partisan mission is to strengthen and enhance the quality of government at all levels throughout Virginia. At the heart of every Sorensen program are three central themes: ethics in public service, the power of bipartisanship, and a concentrated study of public policy issues.

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy: At the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, we are committed to solving the world's toughest policy challenges. We know the complex issues of our time demand innovative, collaborative, cross-sector relationships within our walls and beyond. Our multidisciplinary approach to problem solving and emphasis on ethics reinforce our focus on how leadership works, why context matters in decision-making, and which actions lead to tangible results. We also know a preeminent, forward-looking leadership and public policy school will only flourish in an environment that includes individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, and we are committed to becoming an inclusive, welcoming and supportive community.

Democracy Initiative: The University of Virginia's Democracy Initiative aspires to excellence in integrated research, teaching and public engagement on democracy at a global scale -- bringing together a diverse range of scholars, government leaders, and practitioners to study and advance the prospects of democracy around the world. Democracy can endure only with a broadly educated electorate and leaders prepared to serve the common good. UVA's establishment in 1817 is inseparably linked to the nation's bold experiment with democracy -- as well as its unfulfilled promises. In this sense, the University's history, current efforts, and commitment to the future -- like that of the American republic more generally -- is both inspiring and challenged, promising and in need of completion. Our history uniquely positions us to be the global center for the study of democracy's successes and failures, opportunities and threats, and to influence policies that strengthen democracy at home and worldwide.


Direct all questions about the program to Stefanie Georgakis Abbott at sg9mj@virginia.edu.


2020 Program:

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) were part of the Sorensen program, in which they studied crises faced by the past six Governors of Virginia, heard from speakers who were involved in the state's response to those crises, prepared a memorandum of best practices and effective leadership for those facing crises in the future, and prepared a presentation to the program leaders based on their memoranda.

In addition to studying past crises, the students drew parallels to crises facing Virginia and the nation in the summer of 2020.

Students also participated in daily online seminars where they learned about Virginia history and engaged in leadership development exercises. They also had assignments to volunteer in their own communities, and were mentored by professionals with public service experience.

In the first weeks of the program, Sorensen's interns had the opportunity to hear from and pose questions to the Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (Mike Henry) and then Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Mark Warner (Mike Harney).

On the state level, they heard from Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Chiefs of Staff to Governors Gilmore (Boyd Marcus), Warner (Bill Leighty), Kaine (Bill Leighty and Wayne 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.