A University of Alabama student has been awarded the Obama Foundation’s Voyager Scholarship, which rewards undergraduate students who have a strong desire to help others through public service.
Kate Herndon, a junior at UA from Massachusetts, is one of 100 students nationwide to earn the honor, which is also known as the Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service.
The Voyager Scholarship was established by Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, to assist shape new leaders in public service. Herndon will get up to $50,000 in financial aid, a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing for a summer work-travel experience, an invitation to a summit for all participants, and networking possibilities as a scholarship recipient.
“Being selected as a Voyager means everything,” Herndon said in a news release. “I have a call to serve others and strive to give others a sense of dignity in their hardest moments. Through this award I will have the opportunity to go live and learn beside people, so I can expand my horizons through meaningful travel experiences,” she said.
Scholarship winners should have a passion for helping others, experience working in or developing communities, and a broad understanding of what is achievable via public service, according to the Obama Foundation.
Herndon’s community involvement includes work with the Council on Aging in her hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Herndon began her career in high school by assisting elderly in the community in scheduling appointments for an AARP Tax-Aide program and registering for COVID-19 vaccines.
Herndon is a member of the Blackburn Institute at UA, where she connects with service opportunities throughout Alabama. She has spoken with community leaders in rural places who are addressing challenges through Blackburn, and she has learned about various state issues from public authorities. Herndon believes that both experiences have provided her with the knowledge and abilities she needs to better serve the state.
Herndon said she believes the scholarship will her reach her goal of obtaining a career in public service.
“This scholarship will allow me to take the next step towards a career in public service,” Herndon said.
“I am putting myself through school which keeps me busy with multiple jobs every summer and throughout the school year,” she said.
“The Voyager Scholarship is giving me the amazing resources of time and travel. I will be able to solely focus on the work I hope to do creating safe environments for women and children,” she said.
The Voyager Scholarship is available to students beginning their junior year of college at a recognized four-year college or university in the United States who have proved financial need and are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or DACA holders.