Lauren Fishbein ’18 is in Richmond this summer, working in the Office of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. She was one of 23 people selected for the Governor’s Fellows Program from colleges and universities across Virginia and the U.S. Fishbein, who lives in the Richmond area, is the first Lynchburg College graduate to win this fellowship.
For the next two months, Fishbein will be working under Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine. “I wanted to be a Governor’s Fellow because it is an incredible opportunity to work alongside a secretary and learn more about the functions of the Commonwealth,” she said. “Although my degree is environmental science, I recognize the importance of policy in any field.
“I want to make a real difference one day and in order to do so I must learn about the executive branch and how it operates. This fellowship is truly a remarkable opportunity for recent graduates, specifically for how it opens many important doors and allows for academic and professional growth.”
As a Fellow, Fishbein will be involved in a variety of hands-on and collaborative projects. She also wants to “learn more about my passion for economic growth while considering environmental factors” and work on projects that relate to science education, community engagement, urban planning, women’s rights, and habitat preservation.
She added, “I will be helping the secretariat in any way possible, fully immersing myself in state government.”
At Lynchburg, Fishbein was vice president of the Lynchburg College Democrats, a club that formed in the fall of 2017 and was instrumental in bringing Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to campus in November 2017. She served as standards chairman for Alpha Sigma Alpha and captain of the Ethics Bowl team.
Fishbein also was a part-time planner with the City of Lynchburg’s Planning office. “Working in local government as a college student was such a great and unique learning experience,” she said. “My time with Lynchburg City Government really helped fortify my goals of being a public servant and giving my time and efforts to a community I care about.”
Fishbein first heard about the Governor’s fellowship from Liz Burneson ’12, an alumna in Richmond. “[She] brought it to the attention of the Lynchburg College Democrats,” Fishbein said. “She mentioned that she wished she would have applied during her time in school and how a Lynchburg College student had yet to be selected as a fellow.
“I looked it up online and was immediately interested in applying, due to my interest in government affairs and community engagement. The program is extremely competitive, but I ignored my fear of rejection and I’m very happy I did. … I urge other Lynchburg College students to represent their school and to apply for opportunities out of their comfort zone.”
In the fall, Fishbein will start classes at Virginia Commonwealth University. She’ll pursue a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, with a likely focus on environmental planning. “My dream job is to foster strong, sustainable, and resilient communities that represent the values and integrity of their unique culture,” she said. “I would love to contribute to bettering coastal community planning in the face of climate change.”