Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Clemson business student graduates from inaugural Reagan Institute Civic Leaders Fellowship


Finance and management sophomore Alex Sauer learned about leadership, service and time management in a six-month fellowship

Not long after Alexander Sauer II, Finance and Management ’25, learned that he had been named a Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholar, he received information about the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute’s new Civic Leaders Fellowship.

“Leadership development was already on my mind, so the fellowship’s description really resonated with me,” explained Sauer, who was a Pre-Business student in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University when he discovered the opportunity. “The only requirement was to be an undergraduate student, so I applied.”

Alex Sauer II, Finance and Management ’25, studied leadership and service while completing the inaugural Civic Leaders Fellowship offered by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute.

Sauer described what followed as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” He spent six months in the first cohort of a new leadership and professional development program designed to develop skills and knowledge for students who desire to improve their communities. Delivered in a hybrid format, the fellowship included virtual meetings and fully funded trips to the Reagan Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, where students learned about leadership and service from a wide range of professionals. Speakers included professors, entrepreneurs, journalists, CEOs, nonprofit leaders and members of Congress. Networking dinners and receptions created opportunities to interact directly with these professionals and with other students in the fellowship.

From advice on post-graduation careers to insights on serving at local, state and national levels, Sauer learned about service, civic duty, and how he could make a difference while building a successful career in any field.

“I learned so much about civic responsibility and leadership from the most incredible speakers,” said Sauer. “And because the fellowship is fully funded, including the travel, there was no financial burden.”

A crash course in time management

Adding the Civic Leaders Fellowship to a full Clemson course load meant that Sauer had to focus on time management for the duration of the fellowship, working ahead in classes and carving out time to work and study during fellowship trips.

“There were long days, and I knew that time management was going to be important because I had to put Clemson first,” said Sauer. “It’s no joke to be away for four or five days at a time, but it was worth it.”

Now wrapping up his sophomore year, Sauer is certain that his Civic Leaders Fellowship experience will impact the rest of his time at Clemson as well as his future career. 

“Before the fellowship, I knew it was important to be a good student and be involved,” he explained. “Now, I have a servant leadership attitude and my mission is to do the most good for the most people, no matter where my future career takes me.”

Sauer’s two majors in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business – finance and management – deliver experiential learning and opportunities to meet with industry executives. The addition of the Civic Leaders Fellowship complements his Clemson Experience.

“An interdisciplinary experience like this allows a student to see the world through a broader lens,” said Bill Tumblin II, a senior lecturer with the college. “Alex is well positioned to tackle the challenges he will face as an entrepreneur or employee.”

An opportunity open to all undergraduate majors

During the fellowship, Sauer noted that he was the only Clemson University student in a group of approximately 25 students from a broad spectrum of universities and majors.

“I would encourage any Clemson undergraduate student to apply to this fellowship, no matter the major,” said Sauer. “The emphasis on leadership and service is beneficial to anyone.

“I met other students from around the country who are very different from me. I loved learning about their passion, their background, and their goals. Everyone was so different, but this notion of service brought us together.”

Applications for the 2023-2024 Civic Leaders Fellowship are now open; the final application deadline is July 15, 2023.

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