Two Penn students have been named 2020 Truman Scholars, and will have their graduate studies funded to prepare for careers in public service.
College juniors Annah Chollet and Camilo Duran are among 62 winners selected from a pool of 773 candidates nationwide. Both of Penn's winners said they plan to pursue careers related to criminal justice reform, citing shared experiences with an incarcerated parent and their advocacy pursuits on campus.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship provides recipients up to $30,000 to be used for graduate or professional education in public service. According to the Truman Foundation, Penn is the only Ivy League school with two 2020 Truman Scholars. This is the third year in a row that two Penn students have won the scholarship.
After an internal application process in the fall, Chollet and Duran were nominated by the University to apply for the Truman Scholarship along with two other students. The Truman Foundation then selected Chollet and Duran to be finalists, where they competed in an interviewing process with preparation assistance from the Center for Undergraduate Research.
Chollet hails from Boston, Massachusetts and is double majoring in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies and biological basis of behavior.
She said she intends to complete either a master's in public health or public policy before attending medical school. She plans to work in women’s primary care and then focus on advocating for healthcare reform with a focus on the conditions of incarcerated individuals. Although she said she has wanted to be a physician since a young age, she said she developed her passion for healthcare advocacy at Penn.
On campus, she leads Project LETS, an organization that aims to de-stigmatize mental illness. She also works in health workshops at Riverside Correctional Facility — a Philadelphia jail for women — through the academically based community service course GSWS 555, "Women and Incarceration: Health Education for Incarcerated Women."
Chollet said a particularly meaningful part of the Truman Scholar experience was when she met Duran, because she had never met another student with an incarcerated parent.
“It was something that was so emotional to find out,” Chollet said.
Duran is a politics, philosophy, and economics major concentrating in policy and governance, and an urban studies minor from Maiden, North Carolina. He intends to complete a master's in social policy and complete a law degree before pursuing a career in criminal justice policy reform.
He said his passion for reform is rooted both in his experiences at Penn, working in the Office of Conviction Integrity and Special Investigations of the Philadelphia district attorney, as well as his experience growing up with an incarcerated parent and being a victim of crime himself.
“Having seen both sides of the criminal justice system informs the work that I want to do moving forward,” he said.
On campus, Duran cited his participation in the Public Policy Research Scholars program and the Civic Scholars program as formative experiences. Duran is also a representative on Penn's Undergraduate Assembly, where he advocated for free chest binders, and is a co-chair of FGLIQ.
Duran said he identifies as first-generation, low-income, transgender, and Latinx. He said receiving the Truman Scholarship is especially meaningful to him because he so rarely sees leaders in public service that share these identities.
“Being in this position gives me hope for the future,” he said.