News & Recipients

USF Alumna Selected for the 2023 Governor’s Washington, D.C. Fellowship Award for Outstanding Leadership

Keerthana Kallarackal

University of South Florida alumna Keerthana Kallarackal has been selected for the 2023 Governor’s Washington, D.C. Fellowship Award for Outstanding Leadership. Established in 2011, this award gives one member of each Florida Gubernatorial Fellowship class, which Keerthana was selected for in 2022, the opportunity to continue their fellowship in Washington, D.C. for six months after the completion of their initial nine-month fellowship in Tallahassee.

The Judy Genshaft Honors College (JGHC) alumna was one of only 11 Fellows chosen statewide for the 2022-23 Florida Gubernatorial Fellowship class and was the only USF-affiliated participant. Those selected for the Governor's Award and fellowship extension are placed in Governor DeSantis’ Washington, D.C. office, where they will gain valuable experience working in the nation’s capital and rapidly become integral members of the Governor’s federal relations team. In addition to being personally recognized by the Governor, winners receive a $10,000 dollar stipend to offset living expenses in Washington, D.C.

The Florida Gubernatorial Fellows Program is a non-partisan program that immerses students from public and private universities in key areas of state government. During their nine-month tenure in Tallahassee, Fellows receive advanced on-the-job training as well as an invaluable front-line view of the inner workings of government. A key principle of the Florida Gubernatorial Fellowship is that Fellows’ job placements are high-level positions where their work directly impacts present and future state government. Placement opportunities for Fellows include but are not limited to: Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Children and Families, Department of Education, and Department of Economic Opportunity.

From Tampa, FL, Keerthana graduated from USF in May 2022 with her undergraduate degrees in political science and philosophy. She applied for the program because she wanted to be able to “identify the connection between law and politics in a public servant role." As a political science and philosophy student at USF and a participant in the program, she wanted to “apply and observe the practicality and usefulness of the ideas and theories that I have learned." At USF, Keerthana was a student member of the University Conduct Board and a trip leader for a Bulls Service Break to Charleston, South Carolina. Through the USF Legislative Internship Program (LIP), she interned with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. She also interned for family law attorney, Joryn Jenkins at Open Palm Law.

For her fellowship, Keerthana was placed in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). She is the agency’s first FL Gubernatorial Fellow. There, she was placed within the Office of the Chief of Staff and the Office of External Affairs, which includes communications, legislative affairs, and policy and planning. She has worked on projects from strategic planning to media communication to budgeting and legislation. She was also part of establishing a member wellness program dedicated to retaining law enforcement officers in the state of Florida.

After completing the Fellowship extension, Keerthana plans to attend law school. She aspires to be a government lawyer, working for the executive agencies, or as a prosecutor. In 10 years, she hopes to be working as a legal advisor on policies, with an organization or agency that matches her values and to serve in a capacity that ensures the desired laws are enacted and enforced.

Undergraduate and graduate students interested in the Florida Gubernatorial Fellows Program should contact USF Office of National Scholars (ONS) Associate Director, Lauren Chambers at