The Wilson Leadership Fellows Program is a four-year leadership program designed for a select group of motivated, energetic freshmen who wish to make a difference in their communities today and tomorrow.

Benefits of Becoming a Wilson Leadership Fellow

In addition to earning fast-track access to the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest, the benefits to each Fellow will include:

  • Practical leadership experience
  • Close-knit community of engaged students and faculty
  • Enhanced academic advising
  • Access to nationally-recognized thinkers and speakers
  • Skills to transform self and society

Who Should Apply

Students who have already made a difference in their communities, in their clubs and organizations, or on their sports teams as participating members or leaders; or students who believe they have the talent and will to be successful leaders are excellent candidates for this program and encouraged to apply. Candidates selected for the Program will develop these skills:

  • Ethical decision-making
  • Effective leadership for diverse contexts
  • Active citizenship
  • Civil and rational exchange of ideas

The Application Process

To become a Wilson Leadership Fellow, a student must already have been granted admission to Hampden-Sydney and must submit a separate Wilson Leadership Fellows Program application by March 1 of his senior year. Appointments will be made no later than April 10.

Required Materials

  1. A Wilson Leadership Fellow nomination form submitted by a Hampden-Sydney alumnus, high school principal, headmaster, teacher, coach; religious or community leader; employer; local, state, or U.S. government official; or anyone who can attest to the applicant's current leadership experience and potential as a leader on our campus

    Nomination Form

  2. The Wilson Leadership Fellow application and essay


  3. A personal interview on-campus, to be arranged by the Admissions Office
    Interviews will be conducted between March 1 and April 10.

The Four-Year Program

Freshman Year

  1. Become a member of the Wilson Center's Martin Freshman Leadership Program, which includes a series of seminars and workshops in the study of leadership.
  2. Enroll in the Leadership Living and Learning Community or a special course in which the study of leadership is emphasized.
  3. Join and participate in at least two campus activities to begin experiencing leadership.
  4. Learn from a faculty leadership advisor who will advise and mentor you throughout the four-year Wilson Leadership Fellows Program.

Sophomore Year

  1. Join the Society of '91, a year-long leadership development program founded on the premise that "those who would be great are those who are schooled to serve."
  2. Continue participating in on-campus activities where you are practicing your leadership.
  3. Consider applying for one of the Wilson Center's minors: Leadership in the Public Interest or National Security.
  4. Continue to receive guidance and feedback from your faculty leadership advisor.

Junior Year

  1. Transition from study and analysis to leadership practice by playing an active leadership role in a campus club or organization.
  2. Plan, budget, and organize at least one event.
  3. Continue receiving guidance and feedback on your leadership development from your faculty leadership advisor.
  4. Work with the Ferguson Career Center to seek internship possibilities for your fourth year.
  5. Serve as a member of the President's Men, an honorary group of student leaders who assist the College president.

Senior Year

  1. Complete an off-campus internship or service learning project for 1-3 credit hours under the guidance of your faculty leadership advisor. Internships may be completed during the summer or, time permitting, during the academic year.
  2. Continue to serve as a member of the President's Men, an honorary group of student leaders who assist the College president.

The Namesake

General Sam Wilson headshotSoldier. Spy. General. Director. President. Farmer. At one point or another, all those titles referred to Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson (USA, Ret.) one of the most revered leaders at Hampden-Sydney College—and its president from 1992 to 2000.

Upon his high school graduation in 1940, young Sam Wilson heard the call of service and enlisted in the Virginia National Guard. Over the course of his career, he rose through the ranks, to serve as a Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army. General Wilson's lengthy career in the Special Forces and military intelligence took him from the WWII-era jungles of Burma, where he fought with the legendary Merrill's Marauders, to the streets of Berlin and Moscow during the Cold War, where he was a leader in U.S. intelligence operations, ultimately serving as deputy director of the CIA and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

General Wilson's counsel was often sought by leaders including U.S. Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, and George H. W. Bush. His leadership and expertise was essential in establishing the Army's elite Delta Force.

General Wilson received an honorary degree from H-SC in 1979, and began teaching courses at the College on national security in 1981. In 1992, he became the 22nd president of the College. General Wilson passed away in June of 2017.