Pierre Joseph '15 Wins Truman Scholarship
Issue   |   Wed, 04/23/2014 - 02:25

Pierre Joseph ’15 won $30,000 to go toward graduate school through the Truman Scholarship. The Truman Scholarship, created in 1975, aims to “support young Americans who are making a difference and become part of the future of public service leadership,” the Truman Scholarship website says.

“Truman is for people who want to do domestic work,” Joseph said. “They are looking to invest 30,000 dollars and this big network in people who will be doing things here.”

Joseph said he decided to apply to the fellowship in October because he has always wanted to pursue public service and hopes to attend either the Kennedy School of Government or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Urban Planning. Joseph’s main focus in his work is community and state issues.

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in government and electoral politics,” Joseph said. “It is just deciding where I can make the biggest difference. And that is state politics.”

Specifically, Joseph has developed a passion for place-based community development in Massachusetts gateway cities, cities that thrived during the industrial era but have since declined. Joseph believes anchoring institutions should replace relocation programs to rebuild struggling cities.

“Communities are now shells of their former selves,” he said. “If you can get these anchors on board, everything else will follow.”

The Truman Fellowship requires that the recipient work in Washington, D.C. in an eight-week internship, pursue graduate education at some point and dedicate three to seven years to public service. Joseph’s experience in public service mostly includes legislative and judicial work, so he will use the internship to explore executive administration, he said.

“It’s interesting to see how all of these organizations interact to create a web of bureaucracy,” Joseph said. “Government does not need to be this big bureaucracy, it can be streamlined.”

The extensive application for the fellowship required Joseph to look down the road 10 to 15 years to see where he wants to be.

“It’s honestly like taking a fifth class because it is such an introspective process. You have to paint a picture of yourself,” Joseph said.

In his application, he discussed the experiences he has already had working in public service, including an internship with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“Interning for Senator Warren has been a rewarding experience, allowing me to develop a pulse on the challenges families face across the Commonwealth,” he wrote. “By exploring multiple constituent service issues from Veterans Affairs, to student loans, to consumer finance, I successfully learned to maneuver the federal bureaucracy, getting answers for constituents.”

For Joseph, the picture centered on Massachusetts politics. A Springfield native, Joseph said that he wants to pursue a seat as a representative in the state senate or as a Massachusetts Senator.

“I’d like to either be a state senator or a U.S. senator, he said. “Massachusetts is great. We have given a lot to this country in terms of public service and I’d like to continue that tradition.”