Jonathan Weinberg ’23 has been selected as a 2023 Truman Scholar, becoming the seventh UNH student to earn the distinction and the first ever from UNH Manchester.
Weinberg is the fourth UNH student to be named a Truman Scholar in the last five years, and the only student from New Hampshire recognized this year. He was one of 62 students selected nationwide from a pool of 705 who were nominated, according to UNH Provost Wayne Jones.
Jones was joined by Mike Decelle, dean of UNH Manchester, and Leigh Pratt, interim director of the UNH Office of National Fellowships, to surprise Weinberg with the announcement during a Zoom class led by Stephen Pimpare, principal lecturer at UNH Manchester, on Monday evening.
“This is, for me, continued evidence of how UNH Manchester students, though they often fly below the radar, punch above their weight relative to their peers,” Decelle said during the announcement. “Jonathan continues that proud tradition of really standing out in a very small college at the university. Kudos to him.”
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established in 1975 as a memorial to the 33rd president. It is considered the premier graduate fellowship for college juniors pursuing a career in public service. Truman Scholars receive funding for graduate studies, leadership training, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.
Scholarships are given to those who demonstrate outstanding potential for public service and intend to work in the field. The competitive selection process requires a strong record of public service, as well as a policy proposal that addresses a particular issue.
Weinberg’s proposal focused on education funding by the state of New Hampshire and included a recommendation that the state increase the amount of money it allocates to school districts in order to decrease the burden on local communities.
“The dynamic of New Hampshire education funding is fascinating, because there’s no income or sales tax, so it’s a hard mountain to climb to try to get more state responsibility when there’s this emphasis on local control,” Weinberg says. “Continuing to advocate for more funding and a lot of electoral accountability would be the main ways to effect that change.”
Weinberg, a public service and nonprofit leadership major, says he envisions himself pursuing work in the public interest advocacy sector, noting education advocacy and criminal justice reform as two areas in particular that are important to him.
He already has experience working with several local advocacy organizations, including efforts centered around gun violence reform with Granite State Progress and work with Civix Strategy Group, where he helped educate and mobilize community members and other local legislatures on key issues that would negatively impact public education in the state.
He has also done extensive work in his own community, most notably earning election to the Concord School Board in 2021, where he is currently serving a three-year term.
Though the Zoom format of the surprise gave him an inkling something might be coming – he began surmising as much when he saw Provost Jones and Pratt joining at the beginning of class – the announcement was no less gratifying.
“I went through the process just being who I am, so I felt good about it in the end, but I was crossing my fingers,” Weinberg says. “I am very grateful for the opportunity.”