SBS Student Awarded Inaugural Obama Foundation Voyager Scholarship
University of Massachusetts Amherst undergraduate student Nicholas McCurrach has been named one of the inaugural 100 recipients of the Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholarship for Public Service, administered by the Obama Foundation.
The Voyager Scholarship was created by former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama and Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, to help shape young leaders who can bridge divides and help solve our biggest challenges together. Even though they come from different backgrounds, both the President and Chesky believe that exposure to new places and experiences generates understanding, empathy and cooperation, which equips the next generation to create meaningful change.
The scholarship gives college students financial aid to alleviate the burden of college debt and fund meaningful travel experiences to expand their horizons. It also provides a network of mentors and leaders to support them as they develop professionally.
“I believe building global bridges is essential to both our national security and national prosperity,” says McCurrach, a junior political science and economics major in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “I plan to focus my public service career on foreign policy and diplomacy. Our world faces a host of complex issues ranging from climate change to Russian aggression to global human rights abuses. All of these issues, and others, require a coordinated multi-country response. I want to dedicate my future to fostering connections between nations to facilitate this response.”
McCurrach and his fellow scholarship recipients will receive up to $25,000 per year in “last dollar” financial aid their junior and senior years of college to alleviate the burden of college debt so that students can afford to pursue a career in public service. They will also receive a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing to pursue a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior year of college and will design their own “Summer Voyage” to gain exposure to new communities and experience in a chosen field.
An Ann Arbor, Michigan native, McCurrach says, “For my Summer Voyage, I plan to travel Eastern Europe to explore and experience the region navigating the impacts of Russian aggression, in order to learn about countries with which I hope to work in the future. This experience will broaden my horizons and deepen my understanding of U.S. foreign policy as I witness the effects of its implementation firsthand.”
After graduation, Airbnb will provide the students with a $2,000 travel credit every year for 10 years, totaling $20,000. This will allow McCurrach to continue to broaden his horizons and forge new connections throughout his public service career.
This fall, McCurrach will attend a summit for the scholarship recipients to help define and inspire their public service journey, where he will meet with President Obama and Chesky to talk about the role of empathy and understanding in leadership. Throughout the program, the recipients will also be invited to an ongoing speaker series, giving them access to a network of leaders who will expose them to new areas of service and innovations happening in their fields. After graduation, they will join the Obama Foundation’s global community, providing them with Foundation resources and programming.
The Voyager Scholarship, which is funded by a $100 million personal contribution from Chesky, is open to students entering their junior year of college at an accredited four-year college or university in the U.S., who have demonstrated a financial need and who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents or DACA recipients.
More information about the Voyager Scholarship, including eligibility requirements and a complete list of the inaugural cohort of scholarship recipients, can be found at https://www.obama.org/voyager-scholarship.