The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based award which funds graduate schooling in preparation for a career in public service. The Truman Scholarship recognizes college juniors who are true “change agents,” with the passion, intellect, and leadership potential to improve the ways that public entities—be they governmental bodies, nonprofits, educational institutions, or advocacy organizations—serve the public good. This year, Northeastern University had the pleasure of nominating five outstanding students for this award.
Juan Gallego CSSH’20
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Chelsea, MA
Juan Gallego envisions a day when full participation and representation reinvigorate Massachusetts’ democratic institutions. As it stands, the state’s 800,000 Hispanic residents—its largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group—see themselves reflected in only five state legislators and no statewide elected officials, and have the highest rates of poverty and unemployment. Juan is working to change this from the grassroots up. After several family members experienced racist behavior in his hometown of Chelsea, Juan pressed the city to establish a Human Rights Commission and became one of the commission’s inaugural appointed members. His further work has included policy research on topics ranging from the implications of Uber in Salem to nuclear non-proliferation in North Korea; a co-op in constituent advocacy for U.S. Senator Edward Markey; and the management of multiple local campaigns’ get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts tailored specifically towards non-English speakers. Juan’s commitment to mentoring young people and strengthening his community is also visible in his service as a football coach at Bishop Connolly High School and Randolph High School. Having worked closely with both the mayor of Salem and Northeastern Distinguished Professor and former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, Juan hopes one day to represent his community and all of the commonwealth by running for elected office. To deepen his analytic and management skills in preparation for this career, he plans to pursue joint graduate degrees in law and public policy.
Jared Hirschfield COS’20 and CSSH ’20
Major: Biology and Political Science
Hometown: Seminole, FL
Although he entered Northeastern intending to major in bioengineering, University Scholar and Honors student Jared Hirschfield rethought his plans upon discovering that the majority of premature deaths in the United States are attributable to environmental, social, economic, and behavioral factors—factors outside the traditional purview of medicine. His double major in biology and political science is indicative of the interdisciplinary approach Jared has taken to developing more holistic and comprehensive interventions in a broad spectrum of health-related areas. He has researched both microbial resistance and drug discovery in a campus lab (for which he earned an Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavor Award) and the economic interplay of healthcare systems and the human services sector at the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice. His public service commitments are equally multi-pronged in their approach: Inspired by a course in Law, Public Policy, and Human Behavior, Jared assists the Northeastern Law School’s Public Health Advocacy Institute in litigating against entities (tobacco companies, junk food peddlers) who damage public health; but ever devoted to clinical care and community engagement, he simultaneously volunteers at the foot clinic of Boston Healthcare for the Homeless. A co-op at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico broadened Jared’s perspective on the application of scientific and quantitative skills to systemic, nationwide problems like human trafficking and illicit drug supplies. A subsequent co-op at the National Center for Health Research, a DC-based think tank, involved Jared in the nitty-gritty of the FDA rulemaking process, as he researched and drafted commentary for both governmental and public audiences. Jared plans to maintain his multidisciplinary approach to health by pursuing joint medical and law degrees and working as a community physician and public health advocate.
Maggie King CSSH’20
Major: Political Science and International Affairs
Hometown: Pulaski, NY
Maggie King believes that for democracy to function, young people—who will live with the consequences of yesterday’s and today’s policy decisions for many decades to come—must be fully informed and empowered participants in the political process. Yet the 2010 National Assessment of Education Progress found that 70% of the 12th grade students in the US had never written a letter to give an opinion or solve a problem. In her quest to strengthen participatory democracy, Maggie has already built a successful chapter of a major political organization from scratch, implemented a social justice curriculum in local schools, and found common cause with young people around the globe. Maggie began laying the groundwork for Northeastern’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, a national advocacy organization, before she even arrived on campus; the thriving chapter she founded went on to be named “Best New Chapter” by the national organization, while Maggie was elevated to New England chapter coordinator. A similar commitment prompted her to study political organizing at the Highlander Center and to co-lead a team which earned a Service/Research Award to design, implement, and evaluate the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance curriculum, a hands-on social justice empowerment program, in local schools. Taking a broad global perspective, Maggie has also led youth empowerment workshops as part of a service-learning trip to Tanzania, researched issues pertaining to young people, women, and refugee populations in Jordan, and studied abroad in Budapest and Hungary. She is spending the Spring 2019 semester split between Nepal, Jordan, and Chile. Maggie hopes to earn degrees in law and public affairs and to work in organizing and advocacy on a national scale.
Kritika Singh COE’20
Hometown: McLean, VA
Kritika Singh’s work on neglected diseases—that is, a set of diseases common in low-income populations that receive little attention or research funding because of those they impact and the fact that, though they significantly impair human health, they are often non-lethal—combines the tools of biomedical research, clinical practice, and global health policy. A highly decorated scientific researcher, recipient of both the Thermo Fisher Scientific Antibody Scholarship and the Goldwater Scholarship, Kritika spent a year as a research assistant in a malaria immunology lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases while in high school and, with the support of the Summer Scholars Independent Research Fellowship, has worked for over two years on epigenetics and malaria in the Mazitschek Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. But Kritika, who is a member of the University Scholars and Honors Programs, understands that science alone will not eradicate disease, and in parallel with her research, she has also developed skills in policy and advocacy to amplify her impact. She founded and directs a nonprofit organization, Malaria Free World, which engages in peer-to-peer education, fundraising, and political lobbying, and she has worked to empower others through the Northeastern University Global Health Initiative (NUGHI), which she also founded. Kritika and the NUGHI team earned a Service/Research Project Award to produce one of the largest student-led undergraduate global health conferences in the nation, bringing together a broad interdisciplinary range of students, practitioners, and experts who embodied Kritika’s collaborative vision for making change. Kritika plans to earn a master’s degree in Global Health Science and Epidemiology or Medical Anthropology before pursuing an MD/PhD to prepare her for a career at the intersection of cutting-edge bioscience, translational care, and public health advocacy.
Michael Tormey COE’20 and CSSH’20
Major: Civil Engineering and Economics
Hometown: Orrington, ME
Michael Tormey views transportation planning not as an issue of maximizing commuters’ convenience, but rather as an issue of equity and justice: a way to ensure that all communities have the opportunities to thrive enabled by reliable connections to centers of employment, education, and healthcare. To this challenge Mike brings both technical expertise and a people-oriented, civic-minded vision of collaborative leadership. The contrast between Maine’s rural towns and small cities and Boston’s density and congestion underscored for Mike the idea that different communities have different needs and that the best way to serve others is to respect, listen to, and involve them. This ethic of engagement is visible across Mike’s global learning and service experiences, including an Alternative Spring Break to Cuba, Dialogue of Civilizations to Japan, and a Summer Scholars Independent Research Fellowship to study green space development in Singapore and Jakarta. As a senior resident assistant, a teaching assistant, and an Alternative Spring Break coordinator, Mike has refined institutional processes and structures to ensure that his peers maximize their opportunities for full community engagement. While on co-op at the Boston Planning and Development Agency, Mike led the development of a plan to improve all modes of transportation in the Glover’s Corner section of Dorchester. As a result of his conscientious involvement of community stakeholders, the project enjoys wide support; as a result of his dedication and skill, he saved the BPDA over $50,000 in consulting fees, money which has instead gone to expedite construction. A member of the University Scholars and Honors Programs, Mike aims to earn a Master of Public Policy degree in transportation planning and to take a leading role in transportation advocacy and planning in metro Boston.