Winner of Truman Scholarship plans for a life of public service

Third-year Gabrielle Newell has won the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a recognition of her exceptional leadership as an undergraduate and her potential career in public service.

Newell is one of 62 Truman Scholars selected from 54 colleges around the country. With the support of the Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate education, Newell plans to pursue a joint law degree and Master of International Studies with a focus on human rights.

“The work that I hope to engage in is sobering and sometimes overwhelming,” Newell said, “and I hope to be a part of a community of other people who are also passionate about these issues.”

Newell is the co-leader of the UChicago chapter of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and she is a leader with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. She says her most significant leadership accomplishment has been to forge collaboration between various on- and off-campus community service and cultural organizations to address the topic of health and racial disparities in the local community. Newell works with Students for Health Equity and has served as secretary and vice president of the Organization of Black Students at UChicago.

“Gabrielle has distinguished herself on campus and in the larger campus community,” said Ana Vázquez, director of OMSA, who recommended Newell for the scholarship. “She has the intellect, leadership skills and passion to continue to be a force for the public good,” she said.

As part of the Truman Scholarship application, Newell wrote a policy proposal to offer victims of sex trafficking in the United States the same comprehensive assistance that USAID provides to refugees and internally displaced persons in foreign countries. Newell’s ultimate goal is to lead organizations providing direct legal services to severely disadvantaged groups.

“It’s easy to step away from the inequalities and injustices around us, and decide that they are too much to take on. But with the support of like-minded people, I feel capable of addressing these issues,” she said.

Earning the Truman Scholarship has already affirmed Newell’s dedication to her career choices: “I’ve had a flood of emails from all over the country and all over the world from Truman Scholars offering their support and mentorship,” she said. “That is incredibly valuable in determining what I want to do after graduation, and how best to contribute and use the skills that I’ve developed here at UChicago to make an impact.”

Since the creation of the program in 1975, 28 UChicago students have been selected as Truman Scholars.