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Boston College juniors Max German and Jenna Mu have been named 2021 Truman Scholars by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. The prestigious national awards support undergraduates who are committed to public service leadership.
German and Mu are among the 62 new Truman Scholars selected from 845 candidates nominated by 328 colleges and universities—a record number of applicants for the 46-year-old program. The scholarship supports the graduate education and personal development of standout undergraduates who display leadership potential, intellectual ability, and a strong record of public service.
BC, with 21 Truman Scholars since 1981, is among the fewer than 80 colleges and universities to have achieved the status of Truman Honor Institutions, chosen for their encouragement of outstanding young people to pursue careers in public services, effective promotion of the Truman program on their campuses, and sustained success in helping their students win Truman Scholarships.
“Service is how I have fused this code into working towards change in my community. Living with the disease of alcoholism is an inflection point where I deepen the understanding and use that connection as common ground to the adversity of others.”
Truman Scholar Max German ’22
German points to his enrollment at BC as yet another critical decision. Feeling confident enough to return and complete his studies at the community college he had been attending, German decided he wanted to continue his education. BC, with its emphasis on service and strong academics, greatly appealed to him: “I was able to broaden my horizons and further explore some of the big themes around public service.”
Associate Professor of Political Science Nasser Behnegar, who had German as a student in his Shakespeare’s Politics class, attests to the intellectual component in German’s formation. “What Max began to see from Shakespeare’s history plays in particular is that the motives of political figures are often shrouded in secrecy—a shroud that we can tear slowly, but surely, if one attends carefully to what they say and what they do and do not do. He learned that to make a sound political judgment one must understand the political situation, which in turn requires meticulous observation. I think his encounter with Shakespeare made him into a sharper observer of human action and a more precise thinker and writer.”
German, who will graduate in December, plans to do a year of service through the AmeriCorps Vista program, then pursue a law degree as a means to break what he terms “systemic and structural barriers in our society that foster inequalities of all types.” Upon graduating from law school, he hopes to work for the American Civil Liberties Union, specifically in its criminal law reform division.
“My parents have inspired me to think about ways in which I can serve other people. My older brother has done the same. He also attended Boston College and brought home its emphasis on cura personalis, nurturing and caring for others. They have all encouraged me to pursue my academic interests and to serve as many people as possible.”
Truman Scholarship recipient Jenna Mu ’22
Mu credits BC faculty for guiding her in her academic pursuits and nurturing her professional interests. Besides Hayao, she cited Professor of Biology Philip Landrigan, M.D., director of the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health; Vice Provost for Global Engagement James F. Keenan, S.J.; Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program Director Kathleen Bailey; and Assistant Professor of the Practice of Biology Jeffrey DaCosta.
In addition to conducting research that has resulted in co-authorship of a report in a peer-reviewed journal, outside of Boston College Mu has worked as a research assistant at Creighton University School of Medicine and Harvard School of Dental Medicine, where she co-authored two policy briefs on the environmental impacts of dentistry. As a volunteer, she tutored teens through Boston’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters nonprofit and has mentored students through the Nebraska-based nonprofit Completely KIDS. This summer, she will work as a research assistant with the UN Environment Programme; next summer, she will spend eight weeks in Washington, D.C., at an internship focused on public health.
“Jenna has served as a Research Fellow in our Global Observatory on Pollution and Health within the program in Global Public Health,” said Landrigan. “Through this work, she developed case studies for inclusion in a major review of Human Health and Ocean Pollution. This report was released at an International Symposium on Ocean Health in Monaco on December 3, 2020 and published at the same time in the journal, Annals of Global Health. Jenna is named as an author on this publication.”
In addition to her BC experience and faculty mentors, Mu credits her family with supporting her interests in science, medicine, and serving others.
“My parents have inspired me to think about ways in which I can serve other people,” said Mu. “My older brother has done the same. He also attended Boston College and brought home its emphasis on cura personalis, nurturing and caring for others. They have all encouraged me to pursue my academic interests and to serve as many people as possible.”
This summer, German and Mu will meet their fellow 2021 Truman Scholars during an orientation session, traditionally held at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo.
Ed Hayward and Sean Smith | University Communications | April 2021
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