Lanney wins Marshall Scholarship

Jessica Lanney

Jessica Lanney Photo: Brian Wilson

Princeton senior Jessica Lanney, who is majoring in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and pursuing a certificate in urban studies, is one of 35 American college students awarded 2010 Marshall Scholarships.

The Marshall Scholarship covers the cost of living and studying at a British university of the recipient’s choice for two or three years. Lanney plans to use her award to earn two master's degrees -- one in social policy and planning and the second in urban and regional planning studies -- at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Lanney, of Concord, N.H., hopes to work in urban and social policymaking at the municipal and then the federal level. She has focused on urban development, health care and housing in her academic and extracurricular activities. Lanney also spent time in England during her undergraduate education, attending Hertford College of the University of Oxford in fall 2008.

"I studied abroad at Oxford last year and really liked the academic and social environment in the U.K. and liked comparing what I learned at Princeton to public policy models in Europe," she said. "As a person who wants to work in urban policy, it's important to have an international sense of what was going on in urban development. Over the last decade, the U.K. has been very successful in helping former industrial cities grow and prosper, and I want to learn from that experience."

For the past three summers, Lanney has gained practical experience in urban policy through internships. In 2007, she interned in the New Hampshire Governor's Office, writing about and researching public health policy. The following year, she was a policy intern at the City of New Orleans' Recovery Office, working on supermarket funding and other community development projects. She also has taken three service trips to New Orleans through Princeton's Student Volunteers Council.

This past summer, Lanney was an intern at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, and her work inspired her senior thesis examining how affordable and inclusionary housing programs in Massachusetts complement state policies aimed at ending family homelessness.

"I have become convinced that our government leaves too many people behind," Lanney wrote in her Marshall application. "In order to change the lives of the urban poor, the American policy community must change the way it looks at and responds to the problems that plague cities. This will require an infusion of new energy into the urban and social policy arenas: I plan to be a part of it."

Lanney is already contributing solutions to difficult issues, said Jim Verdier, a visiting lecturer in public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School who co-teaches a policy task force on health care for low-income people with visiting lecturer in public and international affairs Stephen Somers. Lanney's paper for the project focused on options for expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income childless adults, and it has been used by the Congressional Budget Office as well as Colorado and other states exploring this idea.

"The combination of reality-grounded passion for social change and intellectual rigor and discipline that Jess demonstrated in our class and in other settings made her a strong candidate for a Marshall Scholarship," Verdier said.

Lanney won the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence in 2008, and she has received summer public service funding grants from Princeton's Pace Center and the Princeton Internships in Civic Service fund.

"Jessica has demonstrated an abiding and authentic concern for equity, opportunity and social justice for the least among us," said Hugh Price, the John Weinberg/Goldman Sachs Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School, who taught Lanney in a course on urban revitalization. "It is exciting that such a promising young leader will have the opportunity as a Marshall Scholar to deepen her knowledge, broaden her experience base and hone her skills prior to launching her professional career."

Lanney has been involved in a range of activities at Princeton. She serves as the chair of the editorial board of the The Daily Princetonian, the student newspaper. She has been an Outdoor Action leader, taking freshmen on six-day backpacking trips before orientation. She also has been a member of the Princeton Mock Trial team, a study abroad peer adviser, a Woodrow Wilson School Student Advisory Committee member and a participant in the race relations discussion group Sustained Dialogue.

The Marshall Scholarships were established in 1953 as a British gesture to the United States for the assistance received after World War II under the Marshall Plan. Financed by the British government, the scholarships are awarded to American students who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership potential. Up to 40 are selected each year.