Hess Becomes First YSU Student to Receive Truman Scholarship

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Jason Hess, a mechanical engineering major and member of the Sokolov Honors College, is Youngstown State University’s first recipient of the prestigious Truman Scholarship.

Hess, of West Middlesex, Pa., was announced as a 2023 Truman Scholar by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees. Truman Scholars receive funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.

“Jason perfectly exemplifies the outstanding leadership potential, commitment to a career in public service and academic excellence the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation is looking for when naming their scholars,” said Helen K. Lafferty, interim president of YSU. “This is a well-deserved honor, and we celebrate Jason’s hard work in the classroom and his dedication to make an impact in his community.”

Hess, who will graduate in spring 2024, plans to pursue a master’s degree in aerospace/astronautical engineering and public policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Already a published author on the topic of orbital space debris, Hess is passionate about pursuing a career focused on space sustainability, one of the United Nations’ global sustainable development goals.

Hess serves as a teaching assistant for three YSU first-year engineering classes, chief coordinator of YSU Engineering Week and a volunteer coach for the Wilmington Area High School football team. He devotes 40 hours each week during football season to coaching the team he once led as captain.

“Jason Hess represents the qualities we see in so many of our students. He combines drive, intellect, an inquisitive nature and the quality of persevering in the face of adversity,” said Ron Shaklee, director of National and International Scholarships in the Sokolov Honors College and YSU Truman Scholarship representative.

“As he prepared for his Truman Scholar interview, Jason remarked on several occasions about how he was proud to represent YSU as a candidate. It exemplifies his humble nature that he portrays himself as a representative of all YSU students, and the honor is not his alone,” Shaklee said.

The Truman Scholarship was established by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Harry S. Truman and national monument to public service. The Harry S. Truman Foundation recognizes college juniors who are committed to pursuing careers in public service. This year, the foundation reviewed 705 candidates from 275 institutions, naming 199 students as finalists based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement. Hess was selected as one of 62 students nationwide to be named a Truman Scholar, joining a community of 3,504 Truman Scholars named since the first awards in 1977.

After Hess was named a semifinalist, members of the YSU community came together to help him prepare for his next step – an in-person interview. Ashley Orr Catello, YSU’s first Rhodes Scholar, a member of the Sokolov Honors College Advisory Board and doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, mentored him through the process and came to campus to help coach him during the interview preparation phase.

“As an alum, current YSU students continue to impress and inspire me with their vision, service, leadership and scholarship,” Catello said. “Jason, in particular, is an exceptional example of how YSU students make it their mission to make the world a better place. He represented himself, YSU and his entire community incredibly well.”

Pictured at top: In this image captured from video, Jason Hess speaks after learning he is a recipient of the Truman Scholarship. (YouTube | Youngstown State University)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.