A Mobile student was part of the inaugural cohort of recipients of a Voyager Scholarship from the Obama Foundation and Airbnb.
A 2020 graduate of Baker High School, Lexie Woolums was one of 100 college juniors nationwide pursuing careers in public service receiving the scholarship.
Recipients of the scholarship are set to receive up to $25,000 per year for their junior and senior years. In addition, students are receiving a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing to pursue a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior years as well as a $2,000 travel credit every year for 10 years allowing students “to continue to broaden their horizons and forge new connections throughout their public service careers.”
One of over 1,800 applicants for the scholarship, Woolums — who is currently attending UAB — intends to focus on environmental support through her career in public service with hopes of working in the non-profit or government sector advocating for more sustainable policy in the U.S.
“I see the way that a healthy environment supports healthier and happier people, and I believe that is worth fighting for. I am also motivated for future generations, as I want to leave a better-quality place to live for the future than the planet that I lived on,” Woolums said. “I am passionate about protecting the environment from a perspective that views humans as a part of the solution, rather than existing in opposition to it. In the western world, we often focus on removing people to try and protect the planet, and I think it is important for humans to learn to live within the protected environment in a more sustainable way.”
The scholarship was funded by a $100 million personal contribution from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky to the Obama Foundation and features recipients representing 35 states and territories, and 70 colleges and universities.
“Michelle and I know that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to create it,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “These young Voyagers believe in a fairer and more inclusive world, and they’re ready to help us address important challenges in new ways. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish through public service.”
Woolums is hopeful the scholarship will allow for a plethora of opportunities she otherwise might not have been available to pursue had she not received the scholarship as well as providing relief to her financial future.
“The Voyager program will help me accomplish my goals because I am sure I will be able to meet some amazing people and listen to the amazing stuff they are doing. And it would also help me in terms of loans because I would be able to pursue grad school or law school and not have to worry about my undergraduate loans as much,” Woolums said.