UF 2L earns spot in prestigious Gubernatorial Fellows program
by Ian Fisher
Second-year law student Ryan Todd has always been interested in politics, so the idea to apply for Florida’s prestigious Gubernatorial Fellows program was a no-brainer. Although Todd did not expect to earn a spot, he was informed in early June that he would spend the next academic year in Tallahassee, Fla. as a fellow.
Todd has a political science degree from Duke and worked on the campaign for B.J. Lawson, who was running for the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina.
While Todd is planning on practicing law immediately after law school, he thinks he is interested in politics as a long-term goal.
“This fellowship will at least instruct me as to whether or not I actually want to do this. I don’t have that much experience in big government,” Todd said. “That internship I had with the primary winner was very grassroots, so I think this will be an inside look into that line of work. In addition to helping me get there, it’ll give me relevant experience, help me to speak more knowledgably about it and maybe even relevant contacts in Tallahassee.”
Former Governor Jeb Bush started the Gubernatorial Fellows program in 2004 to provide students with first-hand, high-level experience and insight into how government operates.
Other UF Law students have been Gubernatorial Fellows, including three in one year. For the 2005-2006 fellowship year, Staci Braswell, Nicholas Gieseler and Camille Warren all represented UF Law. Also, Jennifer Hartzler, a current UF Law student, was a fellow before law school in 2006-2007.
More than 160 students applied this year, Todd said. The application process is rigorous, involving a lengthy application and two rounds of interviews. After applying, Todd was chosen for a regional interview. After doing well there, he traveled to Tallahassee for finalist interviews with members of Governor Charlie Crist’s staff.
“I hope that a lot of Levin students will apply next year,” Todd said.
After the interview process and meeting the other candidates, Todd did not expect to earn a spot, he said.
“I thought for sure that I wasn’t going to get it,” Todd said. “I had talked myself out of it, trying to prepare myself for the disappointment and I was really, really surprised when I got the phone call and the director told me I got it.”
Todd is working for Florida’s Department of Children and Families under general counsel Mary Ann Stiles. He has been working at least 30 hours a week and is taking two classes as a visiting student at FSU Law School.
“I’ve only done a year of law school and now I’m being treated in a lot of ways like a first-year associate so it’s very challenging diving in,” Todd said. “But it is also a lot of fun. I really enjoy the learning days – I get to shadow the secretary, I go to the Chiefs of Staff meetings, I meet with the speakers. I think that’s a lot of fun, and I really like meeting new people. All the people in the fellowship are really great. It’s been a challenging but fun and entertaining experience.”