Leah Whitmoyer of Tucker, Georgia, a third-year student at the University of Georgia, is one of 100 college students from across the nation to be selected for the inaugural cohort of the Voyager Scholarship, the Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service.
Established in 2021 by the Obama Foundation and Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, the Voyager Scholarship is a two-year program for students in their junior and senior years of college from across the U.S. who are committed to pursuing careers that serve the public and their communities.
The inaugural cohort represents 35 states and territories and 70 colleges and universities.
“To be a member of an inaugural cohort of a scholarship of this magnitude is just incredible, and we congratulate Leah on this accomplishment,” said Meg Amstutz, dean of the Morehead Honors College. “We look forward to seeing her public service contributions as she continues to study solutions to water scarcity, which is a critical issue worldwide.”
Whitmoyer, an Honors student, Foundation Fellow and Stamps Scholar, is a biological science major in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Poultry Science. A 2022 Boren Scholar, she is currently studying Arabic at the University of Jordan in Amman and pursuing a directed research course to analyze sustainable water management methods.
“I’m interested in exploring water conservation efforts in agriculture in regions facing imminent drought,” Whitmoyer explained in her Voyager summary. “I’m specifically interested in exploring irrigation techniques and water infrastructure solutions that reduce water use.”
The Voyager Scholarship awards up to $50,000 in financial aid; a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing for a meaningful summer work-travel experience; a 10-year travel stipend, which involves a $2,000 travel credit every year for 10 years; an annual fall summit; and a network-building speaker series. The scholarship was funded by a $100 million personal contribution from Chesky to the Obama Foundation.
In fall 2020, Whitmoyer began her time at UGA as a CURO Honors Scholar after taking a gap year to study abroad in Rabat, Morocco, through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth and Exchange Study (YES) Abroad program. She researched Moroccan agricultural policy and its implications on women’s rights for her capstone research project.
At UGA, she is involved in the Student Government Association and has conducted research with the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics and the Agriculture and Environmental Services Lab. She presented her research at the 2021 CURO Symposium and received a UGA Libraries’ Undergraduate Research Award for her work.
“Leah is an amazing young leader,” said Roe Stamps, Stamps Scholars Program benefactor. “We are proud to be a part of her life and offer our heartiest congratulations on this truly impressive accomplishment.”
Whitmoyer has volunteered on organic farms in Montana and Wisconsin and continues to study Arabic dialects and French. She hopes to combine her interests in agriculture, water, policy and Arabic to work in the international agriculture field in the Middle East and North Africa.
“I’m so excited to be a part of this program, and I look forward to meeting new people and exploring international solutions to water scarcity in agriculture,” Whitmoyer said.