UF Law student chosen for Gubernatorial Fellows Program

Published: September 17th, 2012

Category: News

Sara Whitney SmithSara Whitney Smith’s (3L) part-time job is different from any other student at the UF Levin College of Law. As of Aug. 13, 2012, Smith was selected to be a member of the eighth class of the Gubernatorial Fellows Program under Gov. Rick Scott.

The 12 fellows were selected through a rigorous four-part application process and for their outstanding leadership, written and oral communication skills, community activism and a desire to serve the people of Florida. They all take long-distance learning classes at Florida State University College of Law, work a minimum of 20 hours a week with the program and meet weekly as a group to participate in educational activities such as presentations, press conferences and budget and policy briefings.

“I thought being a fellow would complement my interest of state government and service to the state while still allowing me to be a full-time student,” Smith said. “Both as a food and resource economics major and in law school, I’ve had to learn a lot about how laws and policy are created, which is what actually happens here as fellows.”

Smith is also highly involved at UF Law, a continuation of her endless involvement as an undergrad at the University of Florida. She has served as student government constitutional review commissioner and vice president of membership for Florida Blue Key, where she helped diversify membership and run all of the Gator Growl events. She also helps developing student organizations to grow and solve problems.

“Every bit of formal education I’ve had has played some part in preparing me for the fellowship as well as my out-of-the-classroom learning,” Smith said. “Learning to get along with groups of people that come from various backgrounds but are all working for the same end result helped in what I’m doing now.”

Smith believes her roles in clubs and organizations throughout her graduate and undergraduate education have helped her to hone her leadership skills. This is also where she developed much of her knowledge about oral and written communications.

“Law school is all about writing and that’s challenging for a lot of people, but it has really helped me to develop academically,” Smith said. “When you’re writing for judges they want you to slice through the superfluous language and tell them what they need to know. All of the activities I’ve done on campus along with an externship I had with the first district court of appeals in Tallahassee taught me to be much more concise and clear in my writing.”

While Smith is not sure what career path she wants to take after graduation, she is sure she wants to stay in Florida and that she loves state government and policy making.

“The state is not just here in Tallahassee where the seat of state government is,” Smith said. “We have millions of citizens in Florida. Our policies and laws shape their behavior so we have to make sure we’re taking all of those people into account when we’re creating or changing whatever policies we’re working on.”

– Francie Weinberg
Student writer