SGA executive officer learns leadership at Mount Vernon

Erin Braxton, Contributing Writer

Clay Martinson, SGA vice president of student affairs and a junior majoring in history, was a attendant in Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program this past summer, a selective six-week program held on the Estate of America’s first president, George Washington.

After the summer spent at Mount Vernon, Martinson said it was really cool to stay on the Estate Washington once resided in.

“I love George Washington,” Martinson said. “Mount Vernon is the prettiest place you will ever see.”

The program strives to prepare rising college juniors with indispensable leadership and networking qualities. Each summer Leadership Fellows provides 16 students chosen from all over the country with housing, transportation, meals and a $3000 award to attend the program at Mount Vernon.

“I was extremely – I was very surprised,” Martinson said. “I was extremely happy because there are thousands of applicants, and there’s only 16 spots.”

Martinson said the program surrounds topics of business and politics, and students can look forward to learning about Washington’s leadership, the nation’s current progressors and how they lead, the growth of the country and discussing how the nation can progress.

Martinson said he got the opportunity to meet with prominent leaders, such as Sen. Tim Kaine.

Each student participating in the six-week program is required to complete a Capstone Research Project. Students pick a project they are passionate about and create a plan for it.

Martinson found interest in a high school non-profit program in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama called The Cap and Gown Project. The program serves to create opportunities for underrepresented students by providing ACT prep and college tours. Martinson’s research project planned a way to team up with a government relations program to secure funding from the local school board and state to Cap and Gown.

He said he gained a good self-evaluation on how to be a better leader by attending the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program. He said it gave him confidence to take a stand on what he believes and gave him an idea on what he sees himself doing in the future at The University of Alabama’s campus.

“It has been very encouraging to see students go back to their campuses and create new organizations or non-profits or newsletters or whatever they have,” said Julie Almacy, manager of Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows. “Sometimes you can see the change almost immediately, and it’s really fun to watch it.”

According to the Leadership Fellows’ website, here the application requires a resume, three written essays/video statements, two letters of recommendation and a current college transcript.

In order to apply, the website encourages the student to be currently enrolled as a college sophomore in good standing, have proven leadership ability and involvement, have demonstrated interest on proposed Capstone project, have a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher and be a current U.S citizen. All majors are welcomed.

According to its website, the Summer 2019 application will be available at the end of October and will be due Jan. 31, 2019. For more information about the program, please visit