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The Program

The fully funded Obama Scholars 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. Obama Scholars will receive a loan-free financial package covering tuition, room, board, books and other expenses. In addition, Scholars receive support for three funded summers to develop skills in high-impact, experiential opportunities related to their future goals in the public good. After graduation, Scholars become eligible for a post-graduate fellowship to fund graduate study or to support other endeavors that promote the public good.


Beginning in the first year, students meet regularly with faculty and staff advisers. 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 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 is being solicited regularly 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 director of national and international fellowships and faculty mentor Ryan Preston-Roedder
  • 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
  • As undergraduates and upon graduation, join our group of distinguished advisers to help mentor future Obama Scholar cohorts