By Shianna Gibbons
Jason Hess, a junior mechanical engineering major, became the first Penguin to receive The Harry S. Truman Scholarship on April 10.
The Truman Scholarship is a nationwide, prestigious scholarship for students pursuing their education in graduate school and aspiring public service leaders. Hess was selected from a pool of over 700 candidates to become a 2023 Truman Scholar.
Hess said he saw the scholarship listed in the Sokolov Honors College’s newsletter and applied in November.
Hess said a few weeks after the application deadline, he was informed that he was a finalist and would be interviewed April 3.
“It was a shock. There [were] like  kids that applied for this, and to be 1 out of 200 of the best in the nation that was — that was amazing,” Hess said.
Hess said he talked to some fellow finalists and believed each one was unique but that he was a strong candidate in each pillar of the Truman Scholarship.
“My mechanical engineering background was a little different than law or political science. I also interned at Washington D.C. last year and had different public service things that I’ve done,” Hess said.
During Hess’ internship in Washington D.C. with ASTM International, he learned about science-technology policy and met with policymakers. Hess said for his own project with ASTM International, he researched and published a paper on space debris.
Interim President Helen Lafferty surprised Hess in class to announce that he was selected as a 2023 Truman Scholar.
“Jason perfectly exemplifies the outstanding leadership potential, commitment to a career in public service, and academic excellence the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation is looking for when naming their scholars,” Lafferty stated in a press release. “This is a well-deserved honor, and we celebrate Jason’s hard work in the classroom and his dedication to [making] an impact in his community.”
Hess said he is honored to receive the award and to be the first recipient from Youngstown State University. He also said he hopes this brings pride to YSU.
“[Being the first YSU student] probably means the most to me,” Hess said. “I just thought of all the great people around this university — I didn’t think of myself. I thought of all those people who are sad to go to this university, but they should be proud. It means a lot to have this community be at my back, and to represent them is all I could ask for.”
After Hess graduates from YSU in the spring of 2024, he plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and pursue a master’s degree in aerospace and astronautical engineering and public policy.