Four students with Maine ties and aspirations to work in public service have been awarded Voyager Scholarships from the Obama Foundation.

The scholarships, which include up to $50,000 in financial aid and travel stipends, were awarded Tuesday to 100 recipients who plan to pursue a career in public service.

Terra Gallo

Terra Gallo grew up in Cumberland and as a Colby College student has worked in a mentoring program in Waterville and an independent civic engagement project that focused on sharing diverse stories about menstruation.

“I want to focus on environmental issues and building communities that are resilient to climate change,” Gallo said in a statement. “I am passionate about food insecurity and food justice, and I plan to work collaboratively to find solutions.”

Neily Raymond

Neily Raymond of Hermon attends the University of Maine, where she majors in English and philosophy and minors in journalism and Franco-American studies. She intends to investigate the effects of a changing climate on rural agronomy and social welfare.

“As a descendant of Franco-American farmers and loggers, I believe it is important to question if, and how, environmentalism can uphold respect for the land traditions of different cultures,” she said.



Genevieve Depke

Genevieve Depke is from Cape Elizabeth and studies biology at Barnard College in New York City. She is focusing on public health and achieving better access to effective medical care.

“I hope to integrate my passion for science and creating meaningful change through service at the intersection of public health and clinical medicine,” she said.

Paulina Lizeth Morales

Paulina Lizeth Morales of Dallas, Texas, attends Bowdoin College, where she studies education and government, and legal studies. She grew up in a predominantly Black and brown community of immigrants and first-generation Americans, which allowed her to see how deeply her community has been affected by immigration policies.

Morales’ public service career will focus on humane immigration policy and equitable access to education. She plans to advocate, research and create community-conscious immigration policy.

The Voyager Scholarships were funded by a $100 million contribution from Brian Chesky, one of the founders of Airbnb.


“These young Voyagers believe in a fairer and more inclusive world,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement announcing the winners. “I can’t wait to see what they accomplish through public service.”

The financial aid can be applied to the costs of students’ junior and senior years to reduce debt and allow them to afford a career in public service. In addition, they receive a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing for a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior years of college, and a 10-year travel stipend of $2,000 per year.

“Traveling to new places and connecting with new people will help them turn their plans into reality,” Chesky said in a statement.

The Voyagers can also attend a fall gathering and an ongoing speaker series, giving them access to a network of leaders and, after graduation, they will have access to Obama Foundation resources and programming.

This inaugural group of Voyagers comes from 35 states and territories and 70 colleges and universities.

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