Creighton student lands major Obama Foundation scholarship
Liza Zaruba in front of the skyline in Sydney, Australia, during a study abroad trip.
It has been an exciting year for Creighton student Liza Zaruba who is among 100 recipients of the inaugural Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholarships for Public Service.
She was already having an over-the-top academic experience in the fall at the University of Sydney in Australia through a Creighton-sponsored study abroad program. Then, in November, she and the other Voyagers were invited to the two-day Obama Foundation Democracy Forum in New York City.
The forum gathered together additional program participants in the Obama Foundation Network, leaders of nations and others, to facilitate discussions on strengthening democracy.
“To hold a seat at the table with individuals who hold such foresight and unbridled aspirations for change is incredibly energizing,” Zaruba says.
She says the students participated in a live Q&A with former President Barack Obama and Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky.
Planning to attend medical school, Zaruba is majoring in health administration and policy with minors in biology, public health and global health equity. Her goal is to improve health systems in poorer parts of the world.
The scholarship provides financial aid to students seeking a career in public service, meaningful travel experiences to expand their horizons, and a network of mentors and leaders to support them.
Funded by a $100 million contribution from Chesky, the scholarships apply to juniors and seniors, with a maximum of $25,000 per year for tuition or other education-related expenses. Recipients also receive $10,000 to design a “summer voyage” between their junior and senior years to pursue internship or self-designed experiences anywhere in the world, while using Airbnb travel credits to stay in Airbnbs. Recipients also receive a 10-year, post-graduation Airbnb travel allowance of $2,000 a year to encourage continued international exposure.
Eighteen hundred students applied for 100 scholarships. Zaruba says it was a stunning moment when she saw her award notification in her email inbox.
“I was sitting in one of my classes on a random Monday going through my inbox when I stumbled on it,” she says. “It said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been selected.’ I looked at it for about 10 minutes, thinking it was some kind of spam email. This really was my dream scholarship,” she says.
Zaruba’s summer experience will be in Geneva, Switzerland, and will involve medical resource distribution and trade-related issues within low-resource settings.