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Two Brown University students win Truman scholarship

Scholarship recognizes leadership, commitment to public service, academic achievement

The scholarship — granted to 60 undergraduate students across the United States from a pool of 709 applicants — is awarded based on “outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence,” according to a Truman Scholarship Foundation press release.

Courtesy of Alexandra Mork and Jay Philbrick.
The scholarship — granted to 60 undergraduate students across the United States from a pool of 709 applicants — is awarded based on “outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence,” according to a Truman Scholarship Foundation press release. Courtesy of Alexandra Mork and Jay Philbrick.

Alexandra Mork ’25 and Jay Philbrick ’24.5 won the Harry S. Truman scholarship this year, making the University one of six institutions in the United States with multiple recipients of the scholarship. Truman Scholars receive a $30,000 scholarship for graduate school and gain access to special programming to help make them better public servants. 

The scholarship — granted to 60 undergraduate students this year across the United States from a pool of 709 applicants — is awarded based on “outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence,” according to a Truman Scholarship Foundation press release.

Both Mork and Philbrick said they were “very surprised” when they won the scholarship. 

Philbrick said that Joel Simundich PhD’17, the University’s assistant dean of fellowships, called him and Mork to his office “under the pretenses of debriefing the scholarship interview.” When they arrived, Simundich, alongside President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 and Dean of the College and Professor of Engineering and Physics Rashid Zia ’01, congratulated them on winning the scholarship. 

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Reflecting on the application and nomination process, Mork, a political science and history concentrator, said she was interested in the scholarship because of her passion for civil rights law. The application consists of several short answer questions, such as plans for grad school, leadership experiences and public service experience, she explained.

Mork has volunteered with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law as a hotline operator advocating for voting rights. She also worked with the Center for Justice in Rhode Island to improve access to education in the state.

Philbrick, an applied math-economics and computer science concentrator, said that his interest in leveraging evidence-based economic policy to raise people’s living standards — particularly in retirement support and worker benefits — motivated him to apply. In the past he has advocated for retirement savings plans in Rhode Island and conducted relevant economic research at Yale Law School. 

The scholarship finalists go through an interview with past Truman scholarship winners, which determines whether or not they win the scholarship. According to Philbrick, he did four to five mock interviews per week with faculty, friends and past winners to prepare. Mork also emphasized that the University was “incredibly supportive.” 

According to Philbrick, the scholarship is particularly valuable, as the joint JD/PhD programs he hopes to pursue are quite expensive. 

“I also look forward to the networking opportunities and access to special hiring agents in the federal government that the scholarship provides,” he added.

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