Junior Anthony Boutros was named a Truman Scholar on April 11, becoming one of 62 undergraduate students nationwide to receive the award.
The Truman Scholarship selects award recipients based on their commitment to public service and leadership. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 that they can use for graduate study and are given access to special internship opportunities with the federal government.
Boutros is thankful that the scholarship will help to alleviate the financial burden of a graduate school education. He explained that it can be difficult for students interested in careers in public service to financially sustain themselves and encouraged other students to take advantage of opportunities like the Truman Scholarship.
“We have a lot of people at Hopkins who are innovative, who are caring and who advance social causes — sometimes against the odds. Every single one of them should know about this opportunity and go for it,” he said. “It is sometimes discouraging to go into public service. It is has a lot of hurdles. But it is a meaningful career path and it is a meaningful calling.”
When Boutros was eight years old, he and his family immigrated from Lebanon to the U.S.
“I remember right before we came, I went down to my cousin’s house and she knew a little bit of English, and she was teaching me the alphabet,” he said. “I was put in second grade and I didn’t know what was going on... I’ve come a long way since, and I am fortunate and thankful and blessed for the opportunities that I had to make it here and to continue.”
Before the start of his freshman year, Boutros participated in a Pre-Orientation program called HopkinsCORPS, a week-long Baltimore-based community service and leadership development program. Through HopkinsCORPS, Boutros worked with nonprofits like the Monument Quilt, which aims to empower survivors of sexual violence, and Second Chance, which supports individuals returning from prison.
HopkinsCORPS, Boutros explained, helped him understand what public service meant to him.
“HopkinsCORPS taught me that service is… listening to the needs of the communities that you are entering, prioritizing those needs, not placing your agenda on theirs, and then using the tools that you have to help uplift, support and then ultimately empower the communities,” he said.
Center for Social Concern (CSC) Assistant Director for Student Leadership and Development Caroline Ouwerkerk helped organized HopkinsCORPS during Boutros’ freshman year.
Boutros expressed gratitude toward Ouwerkerk for emailing him about the Truman Scholarship and introducing him to it while he was studying abroad last semester.
The summer after his freshman year, Boutros continued to work with nonprofits through the CSC’s Community Impact Internships Program (CIIP). He interned at a Baltimore organization called FreeState Justice, which provides legal services for members of the LGBTQ community with lower incomes.
At Hopkins, Boutros served as Student Government Association (SGA) Class President during his freshman and sophomore years. During his sophomore year, he helped initiate SGA’s Civic Engagement Committee, which he chaired that year. In February 2018, he helped bring TurboVote, an online voter registration service, to the University after realizing that many students had not voted in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections because they had simply missed the voter registration deadline.
Later that semester, on March 24, 2018, Boutros helped organize a Hopkins contingent to attend the national March for Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C., which advocated for stronger gun control regulations nationwide after the Parkland, Fla. high school shooting.
Boutros was also involved in the creation of Advocates for Disability Awareness (ADA), a student group that aims to fight for better disability services and increased sensitivity toward students with disabilities at the University.
At Hopkins, Boutros triple majors in Sociology, Public Health and International Studies — all areas which he explained help him work toward his goal to eventually pursue a career in public service.
“They all intersect in really interesting ways from the vantage point of service,” he said. “They allow me to conceptualize the broader impact of my actions and to understand that anytime I do something, I have to realize what the unintended consequences of that may be, what the societal consequences may be, what narratives — both historical and political — it is situated within.”
Boutros added that with three majors, time management is extremely important for him to maintain balance in his life. He emphasized the importance of taking time out of his life to not be productive, to be with his community and to decompress.
“Everything that I do, be it academics or extracurriculars, I try to enjoy,” he said. “I just try to do things that I’m passionate about, which is the way I’ve made it through.”
He attributed his success to the people in his life — from teachers to parents to members of his community — who have helped him over the years. Through his work in public service, he hopes to help other members of underrepresented communities achieve their personal definition of success.
He emphasized that anyone can work toward positively impacting the communities they live in, and encouraged students to find ways in which they could listen to the needs of the community and do their best to help.
“We have a lot of opportunities here on campus to go beyond, to listen to the communities within which we live and to provide resources for their empowerment,” he said.