Nate Morris Fellowship: Nicholas Relich

Nicholas Relich graduated in May 2024 with a double major in Economics and Political Science and a minor in Mathematics. This year, he was awarded the prestigious Nate Morris Fellowship, an opportunity he learned about through Gatton College’s communications and his professors. His interest in public policy and desire to deepen his understanding of governance and expand his professional network pushed him to apply.

The application process for the fellowship was rigorous, requiring Nicholas to reflect on his career goals and propose a research paper topic, but he is thankful for all the support he received from Gatton throughout the process. During the fellowship, Nicholas undertook an original research project and participated in monthly virtual sessions where he workshopped his project and listened to experts discuss various topics, including a particularly engaging session on the electoral college. The fellowship also included an in-person conference in Washington, DC. There, Nicholas attended sessions with public officials, policy experts, and academics discussing pressing issues such as US-China relations, polarization in Congress, and immigration. He also had the chance to visit the State Department, learning from officials about US relations with central African countries and foreign aid strategies in the region.

Nicholas’ research focused on the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC's) efforts to boost economic development in Appalachia through tourism. His case study examined "The Crooked Road," a music heritage trail in southwest Virginia, to assess the effectiveness of ARC’s tourism strategy.

For Nicholas, meeting the other fellows and professionals in public policy was the highlight of his DC experience. Additionally, witnessing the cherry blossoms in full bloom during the conference was a memorable experience.

Nicholas’ faculty mentor, Dr. Ken Troske, played a crucial role throughout the research process, dedicating significant time to discussing ideas and helping him navigate the challenges of empirical research. Nicholas is deeply grateful for Dr. Troske’s support.

"This fellowship provided Nicholas with many unique opportunities, such as interacting with experts on a variety of topics related to the U.S. political process and the opportunity to interact with policymakers in Washington D.C., which will provide a lifetime of benefits. It also provided Nicholas with the training needed to be a future leader in the community, commonwealth and nation," -Ken Troske