Lausanne alumna Ambria Williams '20 (NYU) was recently announced as one of the recipients of the Obama-Chesky Scholarship For Public Service, also known as the Voyager Scholarship.
Created by President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO, The Voyager Scholarship was formed to "help shape the next generation of leaders that will create meaningful change through understanding, empathy and cooperation."
"This generation has so much to offer," President Barack Obama said. "They are smarter, more sophisticated and more imaginative than my generation ever was."
Williams found out about the scholarship in a newsletter at the end of May. She knew there would be a lot of applicants but also knew she had the qualifications they were looking for.
"To know he is aware of the future and hopeful for the future means so much," Williams said. "He believes in people and our connections and the power it has to solve issues. Those are beliefs I also have. To know we have similar ideals means so much."
Out of nearly 1,800 applicants, 100 students were selected for the scholarship.
"When I found out I got it, I screamed.," Williams said. "I was jumping around the room in total disbelief. I get to meet Barack Obama and Brian Chesky in November, and I look forward to being in the same room with them and the fellow Voyagers."
The scholarship gives college students financial aid to alleviate the burden of college debt, meaningful travel experiences to expand their horizons, and a network of mentors and leaders to support them.
"I think so many people have a passion for public service, but they don't go into public service because they can't afford to,” Chesky said. "They have too much financial burden looming over them. If we can remove that burden, people can go into public service and serve their community while broadening their horizons.”
Included in the scholarship is:
Among the criteria to be eligible for the scholarship, applicants had to be in their junior year of study at an accredited four-year college or university in the United States in Fall 2022, have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or equivalent, demonstrated a commitment to public service and plan to pursue a career in public service upon graduation.
“Part of public service is to understand people different from you,” Chesky said. “You have to be willing to build bridges. It’s tough to build a bridge to somewhere if you haven't been there before. That curiosity is a gateway to cooperation. It really is about the idea of community and walking in someone else's shoes and seeing how their stories connect with yours.”
For Williams, the scholarship helps her in her plan to focus on health law and policy and how it relates to improving access to treatment for diverse populations.
“Improving access to medical care and medical technology is my goal,” Williams said. “The network that this scholarship will allow me to have access to and the people I will meet as a result are going to help achieve that.”
Both Obama and Chesky agree that the scholarship is simply an investment in students that they both believe in. Students they said will shape the world in positive ways over the next decade.
“There are leaders everywhere,” President Barack Obama said. "We just have to find them."
Young leaders that will bridge divides and help solve challenges, things Williams said she was taught at Lausanne.
“Lausanne laid the foundation for what I have been able to do since I left,” Wiliams said. "Being able to take classes with a global focus and learn about diverse perspectives has been something I continue to carry through my life. The research projects we did in eighth and tenth grade helped me lay a foundation for what is expected of me here at NYU. I am so thankful for Lausanne. They have been influential in my past and present and will continue to be a part of my future."