CSP Group PhotoBack (left to right): Matthew Savas, Anahita Maleknia, Jessica Perez-Ferman, Charlyse Skipwith, Shanaya Daughtrey, Zachary Johnson Middle (left to right): Kierra Thomas, Sierra Rose Aragon, Morgan Patrick Front (left to right): Connor Dill, Elizabeth Yanjie Horton, Sara Abu Omarah, Sarina Myneni, Preston McGee

The University of Alabama System welcomed 14 students to the inaugural class of Capitol Scholars, a new Washington, D.C.-based summer internship program. The students will participate in immersive internships during summer 2024 with Alabama congressional offices, congressional committees and advocacy groups.

“Preparing students for successful and fulfilling futures is one of the UA System’s top priorities, and the Capitol Scholars Program is rooted in a desire to equip young leaders for a life of impact beyond graduation,” said Charlie Taylor, UA System Vice Chancellor for External Affairs. “Many UA System alumni go on to make a tremendous impact at the local, state and national levels. We are proud to give these outstanding students a glimpse into that legacy this summer and hope this experience will inspire and prepare them for their future endeavors.”

Announced in fall 2023, the Capitol Scholars Program connects outstanding UA System students interested in careers in or around government with high-impact experiences and professional development opportunities in the nation’s capital.

“In addition to their roles as interns, Capitol Scholars will network with UA System alumni and learn about policy and advocacy through meetings with various prominent leaders, including each member of the Alabama congressional delegation, key members of the federal and executive branches of government, prominent governmental affairs agencies and think tanks, and local governmental officials,” said Executive Director Carroll Phelps, who agreed to lead the Capitol Scholars Program after leading The University of Alabama School of Social Work Washington, D.C. Internship Programs for 18 years.

Students at each of the UA System’s three doctoral research institutions – The University of Alabama (UA), The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) – were invited to apply for the program during the fall 2023 semester. Applicants underwent a rigorous, merit-based application and interview process, focusing on areas such as academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to national, state and local community service.

Capitol Scholars students span from rising juniors to recent graduates across all three UA System universities, and students in this year’s cohort represent various academic disciplines including business administration, political science, finance and communication studies.

The 2024 class of Capitol Scholars includes:

  • Sierra Rose Aragon of Madison, AL (UAH)
  • Shanaya Daughtrey of Lakewood, CA (UA)
  • Connor Dill of Dora, AL (UAB)
  • Elizabeth Yanjie Horton of Madison, AL (UAH)
  • Zachary Johnson of Madison, AL (UA)
  • Anahita Maleknia of Huntsville, AL (UAB)
  • Preston McGee of Plantersville, AL (UA)
  • Sarina Myneni of Huntsville, AL (UAB)
  • Sara Abu Omarah of Birmingham, AL (UAB)
  • Morgan Patrick of Hoover, AL (UA)
  • Jessica Perez-Ferman of Rockford, IL (UA)
  • Matthew Savas of Crystal Lake, IL (UA)
  • Charlyse Skipwith of Hoover, AL (UA)
  • Kierra Thomas of Huntsville, AL (UAH)

About the University of Alabama System

Committed to excellence in teaching, research, and service, the University of Alabama System includes three doctoral research institutions – UA, UAB, and UAH – and the world-class UAB Health System. The UA System educates more Alabamians than any other university system and provides transformational research in areas ranging from aerospace to biomedicine to transportation. Its hospitals and clinics care for millions of patients annually and serve people in every county of Alabama. As one of the largest employers in the state, the overall economic impact of the University of Alabama System exceeds $15 billion a year.