For UTC student Robert Fisher, a casual lunch led to a life-changing opportunity. Fisher was recently accepted into The Institute for Responsible Citizenship’s prestigious summer leadership program. He was urged to apply for the program after meeting with DeMarcus Pegues, a UTC alumnus who attended the program in summer 2007. Fisher first met with Pegues through the alumni network of the University Honors program.

Robert Fisher

“DeMarcus and I had lunch one afternoon, and he explained that as an undergraduate student he had an amazing experience at the Institute, so I decided to check out the website to find out more information. A few months went by, and DeMarcus actually called and invited me to visit the Institute in the summer for their alumni weekend. I thought I could benefit from meeting some of the current and past scholars, so in June 2012 I took a 15-hour bus ride to Washington, D.C. While I was there I fell in love with the idea of the program and I was more than impressed by the caliber of the scholars I met. After that experience I knew that I wanted to apply,” Fisher said.

According to their website, The Institute for Responsible Citizenship prepares high-achieving African American men for successful careers in business, law, government, public service, education, journalism, the sciences, medicine, ministry, and the arts. The Institute requires students to complete rigorous academic seminars in Government and Economics, work at high-level internships, and participate in lectures, seminars, and roundtable discussions with some of the nation’s most prominent public and private sector leaders.

“The Institute allows its participants to enjoy unique opportunities while in D.C. The first opportunity we have is the chance to work at internships. In the past, scholars have worked at large think tanks, government departments and agencies, and private corporations. Second, we take accredited college level courses on constitutional and economic principles through a partnership with the Institute for World Politics. Lastly, we will have the opportunity to meet prominent D.C figures; past scholars have met with Supreme Court justices, U.S Congressmen, and CEO’s of major corporations,” Fisher said.

Fisher had some stiff competition to gain acceptance into the institute. He was one of twelve students selected. He will join other students from Yale University, Princeton University, and Morehouse College.

“When I received the call from the Institute letting me know that I was selected for the program, I was almost in disbelief. I considered the competition I was up against. There were hundreds of applicants from many of the best colleges and universities in the country, and the Institute only selected 12 scholars. Though it felt a little surreal, I was incredibly honored and excited to be one of the 12 selected. After the call, of course I called my parents, but I also contacted my recommenders and DeMarcus. They all had helped me in so many ways throughout the application process,” he said.

Fisher is already impressed with his peers in the program.

“While I am excited about the opportunity to work and learn in D.C, I would be remiss if I understated the chance to join an extensive network of talented and brilliant men. There are so many intangible benefits associated with joining a brotherhood comprised of some of the nation’s most talented young leaders, thinkers, and doers. In fact since my acceptance I have had the opportunity to join several Institute discussion boards, and every day I read posts about scholars being accepted at Harvard and Yale Law or scholars releasing classical music albums. At times all I can think is wow…I cannot believe I am a part of something so special,” he said.

According to Fisher, his education and extracurricular activities at UTC will help him during his time in Washington, D.C.

“My professors at UTC have challenged me to think differently and have prompted me to critically analyze topics and ideas that are abstract and at times difficult to grasp, but I cannot say enough about how beneficial that type of instruction will be when I am in D.C. Second, I have been given the unique opportunity to develop my leadership abilities through the many resources available in the office of Student Development.  Opportunities and experiences such as SGA and LeadUTC have been invaluable and I believe they will have a tremendous impact on my time at the Institute,” he said.

To learn more about The Institute for Responsible Citizenship, visit their website here.

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