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College Students Selected for Inaugural Program at the Home of George Washington

MOUNT VERNON, VA – Mount Vernon is pleased to announce the selection of 15 rising college juniors as the inaugural class of Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows. The Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program is a fully paid, five and a half week summer residential program for rising juniors who desire to learn from George Washington’s leadership lessons and make a difference in today’s world.

The rising third-year students, from diverse academic disciplines, will immerse themselves in a leadership development program inspired by George Washington and today's foremost leaders. This select, small cohort will engage in dynamic leadership education curriculum and interact with nationally recognized corporate, government, and military leaders in the nation’s capital. 

With the opening of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington in 2013, Mount Vernon President Curt Viebranz envisioned an ambitious plan to attract and engage emerging student leaders, helping them become the movers and shakers of tomorrow. He proposed an innovative, residential summer fellowship experience for standout rising college juniors from the nation’s top colleges and universities.

“We’ve found fifteen of our country’s brightest and most passionate college students, and we have inspired them to spend their summer at Mount Vernon, learning why George Washington’s leadership matters to them and to other young people,” said Viebranz. 

Creating a leadership program for a highly competitive, hard-to-reach audience seemed like a towering goal. However, patriotic philanthropist David M. Rubenstein recognized the impact it could deliver. He generously agreed to fund its launch as part of his gift to the campaign for the Library. Less than two years later, the program is ready for its debut. And in just a few weeks on June 15, Mount Vernon will welcome its inaugural class of these elite students, known as the Leadership Fellows.

While residing at Mount Vernon and in Washington, D.C., students will take part in intimate, behind-the-scenes tours and cultural opportunities that surpass the average D.C. summer program or internship. These experiences align with the Fellow’s daily academic curriculum, which was designed by Mount Vernon’s education and leadership teams. The curriculum focuses on Washington’s character, inspirational leadership, vision, and masterly execution – all essential to Washington’s success as a statesman, entrepreneur, and military leader.

“This program is designed for college students who are leaders and influencers on their campuses,” said Viebranz. “They will take their experience at Mount Vernon back to their universities and put it into practice when they enter the working world.”

In its first year, the program attracted 105 applicants from 70 colleges and universities in 25 states. The inaugural class of fifteen fellows includes students pursuing engineering, nursing, and biology degrees, along with those following more anticipated fields of study, like history and political science. 


The members of the inaugural class of Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows are: 

Sydney Butler, Temple University

Marc Chen, Vanderbilt University

Helen Kramer, Oberlin College

Lyle Li, Vanderbilt University

Sean McGinley, Colorado School of Mines

Klara Milojkovic, University of South Carolina

Chidinma Nnoromele, Duke University

Alyssa Norris, Washington State University

Lillian Philbrick, Skidmore College

Marissa Piccolo, University of Connecticut

Nicholas Pugh, The University of Edinburgh

Ileana Riveron, Harvard College

Emily Vogt, University of Richmond

Madison Vorva, Pomona College

Eleni Zotos, University of New Hampshire


To learn more about this program, please visit


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