Chase Breaux ‘24 has been selected as one of 100 Voyager Scholars, a new nationally-competitive fellowship focused on supporting the next globally-minded public service leaders. This is the inaugural year of the scholarship, which was designed by the Obama Foundation and Brian Chesky, CEO of AirBnb.
Scholarships are awarded to change-makers, students who are interested in global affairs and plan to pursue a career in public service. Breaux aims to use his career to advocate for criminal justice reform. With the travel benefits of the scholarship, he intends to build his network and study international approaches to prison reform.
“These young Voyagers believe in a fairer and more inclusive world, and they’re ready to help us address important challenges in new ways.” said President Barack Obama
Breaux explained how his Wabash education shaped his understanding of criminal justice and law.“My freshman tutorial with Professor Himsel transformed my perspective on criminal justice, law and politics,” said Breaux. “I could see the lines connecting history to the present more than ever before. The criminal justice system is the culmination of decisions made by people who do not always have everyone’s best interest at heart. And the result is mass incarceration and a criminal justice system that dehumanizes people instead of rehabilitating them.
Marginalized communities, especially the Black community, suffer most because of it.”Breaux, from Houston, hopes to return to Texas after receiving a JD or MPP. He plans to rally voters and build a bipartisan coalition of policymakers and activists around criminal justice reform.Breaux, a political science major and Black studies minor, is quite active on campus. Breaux leads a number of campus organizations, including the Malcolm X Institute for Black Studies, sh’OUT and the Student Senate’s Diversity and Inclusion committee. Breaux is also a regular opinion columnist for The Bachelor, and his articles routinely feature the role of racism in contemporary US politics.“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,” President Barack Obama wrote in a statement on Facebook.
“The criminal justice system is the culmination of laws and decisions made by people who do not always have everyone’s best interest at heart.” said Breaux
The scholarship provides $50,000 in financial aid to alleviate undergraduate debt. It also provides a $10,000 stipend and free AirBnB housing for each scholar’s unique “summer voyage” between their junior and senior years. And for the following ten years, each scholar receives a $2,000 travel credit for international travel. The Voyager is not Breaux’s first major award. Breaux has also received a Point Foundation scholarship, which supports leading students in the LGBTQ+ community, and a Gilman scholarship, which funds study abroad experiences.