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Boston College Junior Marissa Marandola
Wins 2015 Truman Scholarship

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (4-30-15)—Boston College junior Marissa Marandola, a Gabelli Presidential Scholar and student in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, has been named a recipient of the 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. 

Marissa Marandola
BC junior, 2015 Truman Scholar
Marissa Marandola.
(Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

A political science major and American studies and management and leadership minor from Cranston, RI, Marandola has distinguished herself at Boston College through her academic achievement and leadership roles as editor-in-chief of Elements, the undergraduate research journal at Boston College, and Ex Libris, the newsletter of the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program. She has also served as executive board member of BC Splash, a member of the Liturgy Arts Group, a Clough Center junior fellow, and a peer tutor in the Connors Family Learning Center.
The prestigious Truman Scholarship, established by Congress to honor the memory of the 33rd president, supports the graduate education and personal development of standout undergraduates committed to public service leadership.  It is awarded on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and a strong record of public service, and requires a detailed policy proposal that addresses a particular societal challenge.

Jason Cavallari, associate director of the International Studies Program and director of University Fellowships, praised Marandola as a most worthy recipient of the Truman Scholarship and an ideal ambassador for Boston College. “Marissa won this award because she’s whip-smart, dedicated, ambitious, and above all, passionate about addressing the problems that plague our education system,” said Cavallari. “She is exactly the kind of person we want to pursue a career in public service, and the kind of student for whom the Truman Scholarship was founded.”

Marandola said she was honored to receive the scholarship, which will help defray the cost of law school and enable her to ultimately pursue a career in education reform and advocacy.

“Through my research at Boston College and work in the community, I have seen a huge disparity between educational opportunity for some and the lack of opportunity for others,” said Marandola. “I think all students should have the same opportunity, and I believe that the charter school movement is one way to do so, particularly for the socio-economically disadvantaged who suffer the inequities in our education system.”

Marandola credits BC faculty for guiding her in her academic pursuits and nurturing her professional interests. In particular she acknowledged Assistant Professor of Political Science David Hopkins, with whom she worked as a research assistant, for helping to build her confidence as a researcher; Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program Director James Keenan, S.J., for encouraging her to pursue the Truman Scholarship; and Political Science adjunct faculty member Elizabeth Georges, who served as her role model and professional mentor.

“Marissa is distinguished by a rare combination of intelligence, intellectual passion, dedication, poise, and good humor,” said Hopkins. “I have had the good fortune of benefiting directly from these outstanding qualities over the past two years as she has assisted me with my research as an undergraduate research fellow. It is very gratifying to me to see Marissa receive a more public recognition for the ways in which she enriches the Boston College community. Her talent and public-spiritedness make her an ideal Truman Scholar, and I know she will go on to do great things.”

Added Mark O’Connor, who teaches in the Arts and Sciences Honors Program and who wrote the Truman Scholarship recommendation on her behalf, “Not surprisingly, Marissa’s Truman-inspired project aims to help disadvantaged young schoolchildren.  Given how generously and well she has already served such children while growing up in Rhode Island, and how well she now serves college students to whom so much has been given, we are all fortunate that she is choosing to bring Boston College’s values to the larger public arena through this Truman Scholarship.”

Outside of Boston College, Marandola has volunteered at the Italian Home for Children and served as an intern for the Attorney General of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Family Court and the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

She is one of 58 students nationwide to win the Truman Scholarship this year, and BC’s tenth recipient overall.

This summer she will meet her fellow 2015 Truman Scholars during a weeklong orientation session in the Truman Library in Independence, MO, and next summer she will spend eight weeks in Washington, DC at an internship focused on educational policy. After attending law school, she plans to work in a legal department in an urban educational system before pursuing a career as a legal advocate for education reform.

“My parents always emphasized that to whom much is given, much is expected,” said Marandola. “I was raised by loving parents, attended wonderful Catholic schools and now study at Boston College. I have been given a lot, and the Truman Scholarship helps me to take all that I have been blessed with and use it to serve others.”

— Jack Dunn, News & Public Affairs