Skip Navigation

Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Subscribe Now

Two Students Awarded Voyager Scholarship by Obamas, Airbnb Co-founder

Terps Among 100 College Juniors Awarded Up to $60K, Travel Housing as Part of Program’s Second Cohort

By Rachael Grahame ’17

column detail on the Armory

The Voyager Scholarship, awarded for the first time to UMD students, includes up to $50,000 in financial aid, a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing for a summer work-travel experience, and a network of mentors and leaders to support them.

Photo by John T. Consoli

Two University of Maryland students today were named recipients of the Voyager Scholarship, created last year by former U.S. President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama, along with Airbnb Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, to help shape college juniors with demonstrated financial need into future leaders.

Astrid Mendoza headshot

As “Voyagers,” Astrid Mendoza, a psychology major and human development minor, and Shreya Jha, an environmental science and policy major double minoring in geospatial information science and history, will receive up to $50,000 in financial aid over two years and $10,000 stipends, plus free housing provided by Airbnb, to pursue a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior years. They will also be invited to attend a summit on leadership in public service and a speaker series featuring a network of leaders, as well as to receive resources and support from the Obama Foundation’s global community after graduation.

“This scholarship will provide my family and I financial relief that will allow me to place better focus on my academic and professional pursuits,” said Mendoza, who lives in nearby Hyattsville, Md.

With support from the Voyager scholarship, Mendoza hopes to travel back to her birthplace, La Union, El Salvador, to learn more about aspects of Latinx culture that contribute to a stigma surrounding mental health issues.

After graduation, Mendoza plans to pursue a Ph.D. program in counseling, clinical or school psychology, and ultimately become a licensed psychologist.

Shreya Jha headshot

“In whichever area I end up in, I would love to lead community interventions and workshops aiming to serve underrepresented communities, especially undocumented, immigrant and Latinx populations,” she said.

Jha is still weighing her options for Voyager-sponsored travel and career-related plans beyond getting “involved in work that bridges science, research and policy through mutual aid and extension efforts,” and working to address food insecurity and environmental injustice. But, that’s part of the reason why she’s especially grateful for her Voyager Scholarship.

“Receiving this scholarship means getting the unbelievable opportunity to meet and learn from different leaders, communities and organizations who share my passion for public service,” said Jha, who hails from Montgomery County, Md. “It allows me to travel and gain these experiences hands-on through the Summer Voyage, and it makes my future in academia more of a possibility. It opens up so many doors that I didn’t even see as a possibility for myself.”



Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.