Student Spotlight: Depies Wins Truman Scholarship

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Jessica Depies after a hike in Peru in April 2016.

Jessica Depies, a junior and double major in International Relations and Economics at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, has been awarded the 2016 Truman Scholarship, which recognizes young leaders who are committed to a career in public service. 

Depies, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese and is interested in Latin American development issues, was one of 775 candidates for the award this year. Only 54 Truman Scholars were selected from that pool. Students were selected based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement.

Currently spending a semester interning at the U.S. Embassy in Peru, Depies developed her passion for global development through her work with nonprofits and time spent abroad. Depies spent the fall semester of 2015 abroad in Fortaleza, Brazil thanks to winning Boston University’s Boren Award for International Study which allowed her to pursue a month-long research project studying a favela, or slum, located within an environmental protection zone, and how sustainable development can accommodate the needs of local residents.

“When people ask me what I want to do for a living and I tell them I want to eradicate poverty, the typical response is a confused laugh,” Depies said. “But applying for the Truman gave me the opportunity to really flesh out my plans to work in global development: to consider the ethical and empirical meaning behind this field and to engage my desire to become a leader and policymaker.”

Winning the Truman Scholarship validated those aspirations and more importantly provided an avenue to pursue them, according to Depies.

“Being awarded a Truman Scholarship validates the plans I have, which is wonderful,” Depies said. “But it also gives me the opportunity to connect with like-minded people, pursue my goals in graduate school, and begin a career in public service with resources I couldn’t have imagined having access to. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have been selected.”

Depies thanked Pardee School Assistant Professor of International Relations Renata Keller for her help with the scholarship application, and said she couldn’t wait to get back to campus after spending the academic year abroad.

“A huge thank you to Dr. Keller, who provided invaluable assistance ever since I told her I was applying for the Truman back in September,” Depies said. “She was a wonderful recommender; volunteered to participate in my practice interviews; and her class, “Drugs and the Americas,” even inspired the policy proposal I wrote for my Truman application. I am really looking forward to getting back to BU after spending a year away, and especially to beginning my honor’s thesis at the Pardee School.”