BATON ROUGE, La (LSU MANSHIP) — LSU junior Mia LeJeune, a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, is one of 62 college students nationwide to join the 2021 cohort of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation’s prestigious annual fellowship.
LeJeune was selected from a pool of 845 candidates nominated by 328 colleges and universities—a record number of applicants. She received support through the Ogden Honors College’s Office of Fellowship Advising, which helped her prepare a competitive application and practice for her final round interview.
Truman Scholars are selected based on their ability to demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence. As an Ogden Honors student studying political communication at the Manship School of Mass Communication, LeJeune has discovered her passion for combating voter suppression.
“Along with being an inspiring student leader and passionate public servant who is making an incredible impact at LSU and in our community, Mia has a wonderful personality, and it has been an honor and pleasure to work with her on some of the many initiatives she is engaged with,” said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan. “She is most deserving of this prestigious scholarship, and we are very proud to have Mia as a member of our LSU Family.”
After attending the National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement Summit at Harvard’s Institute of Politics in 2019, LeJeune helped secure a fifth-place ranking for LSU out of 131 campuses for the most registrations, and the registration rate on campus rose by 6.5%. Today, she is the president of Geaux Vote and ambassador to the Andrew Goodman Foundation.
“I have experienced student activism during a pandemic, civil unrest and an unprecedented election season. Despite these challenges, Geaux Vote registered over 650 students between August and November and 5,900 students since 2018,” LeJeune notes. “Motivating young people and educating them to feel confident at the polls is the greatest way to give back to our communities and ensure the prosperity of democracy,” she added.
“Mia is one of those students who brings her absolute best to every situation,” said Josh Grimm, interim dean of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. “She is already making meaningful change in this world, and it is genuinely thrilling to see her receive this honor.”
Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. LeJeune hopes to work with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) through the Truman Foundation’s Summer Institute.
The NDI works to strengthen global political institutions, promoting civic engagement and safeguarding elections. The NDI asserts that the core of a successful and resilient democracy lies in the voices of all populations regardless of race, ideology, socioeconomic background, sex or gender.
LeJeune would like to work on NDI’s “Votes without Violence” campaign, which aims to educate the public on the violence women experience at the polls, support policy that mitigates this violence and bridge the gender gap in political participation. “Working with the NDI will help me recognize the unique challenges women face globally, so I can empower women facing discrimination in the United States’ political process,” she emphasizes.
With the help of the Truman Scholarship, LeJeune plans to pursue a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law and a Master of Arts in democracy and government from Georgetown University.
“Mia is going to have a long, distinguished career in politics and public service,” said Dean Jonathan Earle of the Ogden Honors College. “Anyone who spends time with her can sense her passion and leadership qualities. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”
Upon completing her graduate studies, LeJeune wants to work as a campaign manager with the goal of empowering all Americans and working toward record-breaking turnout for marginalized groups. She eventually wants to use her experiences with grassroots campaigning and intense academic study to run for Louisiana Secretary of State, where she can address issues like deregulating voter identification laws, protecting voter registration records, prohibiting gerrymandering and increasing access to mail-in ballots.
“Our democracy as it stands is flawed. It was established to represent the majority, but it only represents the majority allowed to participate,” said LeJuene. “Far too many institutions in our civic process discriminate against and prohibit the right to vote.”
“My generation has a responsibility to correct the partisan nature of our election institutions and fight to ensure fairness at the ballot box. When everyone is willing and able to participate in elections, then America will again shine as a beacon of democracy. I believe that as a Truman Scholar I can become a catalyst for free and fair elections and inspire others to join me.”