Skip to main content

Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program

Rawlings Class in Annapolis

A champion of the underrepresented and a fiercely ethical leader.

The Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program honors the legacy of Howard Peters "Pete" Rawlings, who was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing the 40th district for more than two decades. A tireless advocate for those often unheard and underrepresented, the Rawlings Program provides you the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Delegate Rawlings and develop as a champion for those marginalized in leadership and decision-making processes. 

Working with faculty, alumni and local leaders, Rawlings Fellows will develop skills and resources needed to take on leadership roles during the program and beyond in fellows’ future careers. Fellows will also grow to understand the importance of cultural pluralism and advocacy for voices too often unheard or underrepresented. The program offers opportunities for mentorship, professional development events, potential engagements with local and state leaders and hands-on experiences working in the community. These program components help Rawlings Fellows realize their commitment to public service and further develop critical leadership skills.

A politician worries about the next election. A true statesman worries about the next generation, and children yet unborn, and that was Pete Rawlings.
U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings

The Rawlings Program is a year-long experience, starting in the fall semester with an inaugural team-building challenge course at the University's Outdoor Recreation Center. Specialized activities and experiences throughout the year include:

  • Team building activities
  • Completion of a leadership development seminar in the fall titled “Advancing Justice through Leadership and Social Change”
  • Mentoring relationships with graduate assistants with a possibility for mentorships with elected officials, state and local government leaders, and community advocates through internships
  • Access to renowned leadership scholars and policy faculty at the University of Maryland and the wider Washington, DC metropolitan area
  • Potential site visits to public and nonprofit entities
  • Original development of a Community Action Project (CAP) that benefits an underserved community in an area surrounding College Park, Maryland
  • Public service and professional development opportunities
  • Direct professional development support from program staff and the opportunity to secure a political or nonprofit internship
  • Participation in courses and events designed to promote a greater understanding of leadership in public life
  • A certificate of completion
  • 15-week leadership development course titled “Advancing Justice through Leadership and Social Change”
  • Design and present a Community Action Project (CAP) in groups of 2-4 fellows
  • Develop, organize and execute a collective cohort service project 

In the fall, Rawling Fellows take a three-credit leadership development course titled in Testudo “Advancing Justice through Leadership and Social Change.” This class is only taught in the fall and exclusively for Rawlings Fellows. The leadership development class can be found in Testudo under the course number PLCY 388N. This 15-week seminar will cover topics such as leadership styles, methods for leadership development, advocacy, strategies for empowering marginalized groups such as those who are homeless or face burdens in finding housing, social policy concerns and leadership aspects of public policy that connect with social identity and pluralism. Fellows will have the opportunity to engage directly with peers as well as leaders from local, state and federal government agencies, leaders from the nonprofit sector and leaders from within the University of Maryland campus community. The course also includes various writing exercises, in-class debates and other structured discussion activities related to leadership, diversity, equity and advocacy in order to develop and hone leadership skills. 

Fellows will work in groups to design a Community Action Project during the fall semester of their cohort year. Rawlings Fellows conclude their fall semester with a presentation outlining their planned CAP. Fellows will then try to implement the project in the spring of their cohort year with a limited budget to transfer learned skills in leadership and management into a practical capstone experience. Support will be given to the Fellows to help develop the CAP. 

The CAP is done in small groups of 2-4 fellows. Fellows will work together with a limited budget to try to solve a policy problem they have recognized in local underserved communities. Projects must be implemented in disadvantaged communities in the area in or areas surrounding the campus community such as neighborhoods in Washington, DC, Prince George's County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Howard County or Montgomery County. The project can not serve the University of Maryland campus community. The project should instead focus on underprivileged communities that can truly benefit from young, impassioned and committed public leaders so Rawlings Fellows can truly translate their ambitious desire to serve the public good into substantive action. 

Separate from the fall leadership course, and the CAP, but as a collective group, Rawlings Fellows will also develop, organize, coordinate and participate in a one-day community service project during the fall semester.

  • PLCY elective course
  • Secure a spring Internship with an agency, nonprofit, organization or other political entity that it is dedicated to public service and promoting the public good
  • Attend professional development workshops designed specifically for Rawlings Fellows
  • Implement Community Action Project (CAP)

In the spring, Rawlings Fellows will take a three-credit policy elective course (listed as PLCY in Testudo) related to public leadership that will allow fellows to further develop their knowledge of specific topics in public policy. 

Fellows will also attend 2-3 leadership development workshops, have the potential to participate in site visits to Washington, DC or Annapolis and finish the implementation of their community action project that fellows initially developed during the fall semester. 

In addition, Rawlings Fellows in the spring will select and take a three-credit policy internship course (currently listed as PLCY309 in Testudo) related to public leadership that will serve as a capstone course for the fellowship. Previous Rawlings Fellows have secured internships in Annapolis during the legislative session, on Capitol Hill, with a federal or state agency or with a recognized nonprofit entity dedicated to the public good. To receive credit, you must enroll in PLCY309 for either three credits, corresponding to 135 hours spent at your internship during the spring semester, or six credits, corresponding to 270 hours spent at your internship throughout the spring semester. Fellows who have already taken PLCY 309 will not need to retake it during their Rawlings cohort year.

Apply Now

If you have a least two semesters remaining at the University and a commitment to public leadership, apply now for the Rawlings Program.

Deadline: April 15, 2023

Questions? Contact Maleeha Coleburn

Your Name

Current Mailing Address

Current Mailing Address

Permanent Mailing Address

Permanent Mailing Address
Write a cover letter detailing your interest in the Rawlings Fellows program and your commitment to serving a disadvantaged community. Briefly include in your cover letter your thoughts on the role of an ideal public leader in a state or local community.
One file only.
100 MB limit.
Allowed types: pdf, doc, docx.
One file only.
100 MB limit.
Allowed types: pdf, doc, docx.
A 500-word essay on the following topic: Discuss the complexities associated with leading in a world of cultural pluralism. Include in this discussion your thoughts on the role of a public leader in the state and in the community. Remember that a public leader need not be an elected official.
One file only.
100 MB limit.
Allowed types: pdf, doc, docx.
One file only.
100 MB limit.
Allowed types: pdf.
14 + 5 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.