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About the Program

The Barack Obama Scholars Program at Occidental College was created to empower the next generation of leaders to actively pursue the public good. The program provides a comprehensive experience for exceptional students of all backgrounds who seek the opportunity to create lasting and meaningful change.

Obama Scholars will benefit from the same educational mission — excellence, equity, community and service — that the President has cited as crucial to his own development.

Program Summary

Occidental student embraces local culture during her Oxy study abroad program in Nanjing, China

Obama Scholars will receive a loan-free financial package covering tuition, room, board, books and other expenses. This fully funded program will provide students with the opportunity to pursue a path both academically and beyond the classroom that supports their ambition to make a difference. Scholars can pursue any field of study Occidental offers. In the first year, students will be matched with faculty advisers who will mentor them and help shape their personalized plans over the course of their four years at the College. Scholars also will be connected with the program’s advisory council, which includes prominent Occidental alumni, former Obama administration officials and other distinguished advisers. Throughout the duration of the program, Obama Scholars will benefit from the guidance of these mentor networks.

Obama Scholars will embark on a journey that will cover the academic calendar and each summer between them. Summer experiences may range from service projects, internships in a chosen field, or self-directed experiences. No two paths will be quite the same. Scholars will be able to take advantage of study abroad, mentored research projects and internships in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. They will also have the opportunity to participate in Occidental’s unique experiential programs, including the Kahane United Nations Program and Campaign Semester. They will work with their advisers to plan a journey both inside and outside of the classroom that will equip them with the tools they need to create change.

Expectations of Obama Scholars

Obama Scholars are Occidental College students first and foremost. As such the program is designed to enable scholars to participate fully in the Oxy community just as any other student would. With 2018 representing the first class of Obama Scholars at Occidental, student feedback will be solicited to ensure program effectiveness.

Other expectations for Obama Scholars include:

  • Regular meetings with the entire Obama Scholars community, including members of one's cohort, as well as the Program Director
  • Complete four years of undergraduate study at Occidental with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Assume on-campus leadership and/or service roles.
  • Completion of senior capstone project
  • Occasional participation in interviews, videos or events on campus as part of the Obama Scholars program
  • Upon graduation, join our group of distinguished advisers to help mentor future Obama Scholar cohorts