Shining a light on marginalized communities

June 3, 2022

STUDENT EXPERIENCE

Lexi Cobbs and McKenna Dunbar have dedicated their time at the University of Richmond to making a difference for others.

The two were named finalists for a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the nation’s premier graduate fellowship for students pursuing careers as public service leaders.

Cobbs, a double major in political science and English, is passionate about practicing civil rights law, and plans to attend law school after graduation.

“I want to make a lot of noise about the policy issues that matter to me,” said Cobbs, a Richmond and Oliver Hill Scholar. “Starting in my home state of Mississippi, I will work on normalizing felon disenfranchisement laws across the nation.”

Cobbs aspires to work with a non-profit, like the Equal Justice Initiative or the Innocence Project. She also plans to clerk for a federal judge or a Supreme Court justice.

Dunbar, a double major in environmental studies and business, wants to raise awareness about how climate change is disproportionately affecting marginalized groups. Dunbar is the founder of the Ecological Justice Initiative, a youth-based environmental advocacy nonprofit, and MOCOKONO, a company focused on corporate social responsibility related to the environment and governance.

“Even with rapid adaptation of energy efficiency systems, marginalized communities are typically left out of the equation as a result of social determinants of energy use, including systemic racism and socioeconomic status,” said Dunbar, who received a Projects for Peace grant in 2021 and was awarded the Udall Scholarship in 2021. “I want to spearhead policy that surrounds expansion of environmental justice initiatives and engage in pro bono work in the state's underserved communities.”

Cobbs and Dunbar were two of the 189 finalists selected from 705 nominations for this year’s competition.

“To be named a finalist for the Truman is an honor, and it’s a testament to Lexi and McKenna’s accomplishments and commitment to public service,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships.