UCR Alumnus Akhil Rao Named as Coro Fellow

It is the second year in a row that a UCR graduate has received the prestigious experiential leadership honor

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Akhil Rao, a 2012 graduate of UC Riverside, has been selected as a Coro Fellow for 2013-14. Photo by Ross French

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – For the second year in a row, a University of California, Riverside alumnus has been named to the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs. Akhil Rao, who graduated with honors in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in economics, was named as one of 64 fellows for 2013-14 in February.

The Coro is a full-time, nine month, graduate-level experiential leadership training program that teaches effective and ethical leadership in the public affairs arena, providing participants with great opportunities for personal and professional growth. Formed in San Francisco in 1942 to provide leadership training to soldiers returning from World War II, the program’s notable alumni include Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representatives Jerry Lewis, Anna Eshoo and Vic Fazio, and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

“I’m hoping that the program will give me an opportunity to learn about and connect with the diverse actors in the public affairs arena. I’m interested in policy-oriented research, and I’m hoping that that ‘on the ground’ knowledge will inform my work and make it better,” Rao said.

Since graduating last spring, Rao has been busy preparing to apply for a Ph.D. program in economics. His hectic schedule included taking math classes at UCR, UCR Extension and Riverside City College, auditing graduate economics, political science and math classes, serving as a grader for economics courses, and working on research projects with Assistant Professors William Barndt in political science and Thomas Laurent in math.

But Rao thought he could do more and reached out for advice from Larry Chung, who was named a Coro Fellow in 2012. Chung recommended the fellowship program to Rao.

“I called Larry to get his advice and he suggested that I apply,” Rao said. “When I mentioned it to Professor Barndt, he strongly encouraged me to apply as well.”

Barndt called Rao “one of the best students I have ever had.”

“He’s just amazing,” Barndt said. “When I think about the Coro, I think about leadership, and Akhil is such a natural leader and such an amazing student that I just had no doubt that he would be a good fit.”

Barndt added that the Coro experience will give Rao a “real sense of what public policy means in practice, what it means to be engaged in community leadership.”

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