Two University of Richmond Juniors Selected as Truman Finalists

April 26, 2022

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Juniors Lexi Cobbs and McKenna Dunbar were selected as finalists for a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the nation’s premier graduate fellowship for students pursuing careers as public service leaders.

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

Lexi Cobbs, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is double majoring in political science and English. One of her areas of academic interest is civil rights and voter disenfranchisement. After graduation, she plans to attend law school and 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.

“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 so that two men cannot commit the same crime but one lose his right to vote in one state but the other keep it in another.”

McKenna Dunbar, of Richmond, Virginia, is double majoring in environmental studies and business administration with a concentration in international business. Dunbar is the founder of the Ecological Justice Initiative, a youth-based environmental advocacy nonprofit, and most recently MOCOKONO, a company focused on corporate social responsibility related to the environment and governance. Dunbar will pursue a career focused on climate activism and environmental justice while tackling issues like fossil fuel emissions and increasing renewable energy production. 

“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.”