Northwestern University junior Ji Hye Choi has received a highly competitive 2022 Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a $30,000 award that supports graduate education for outstanding students who demonstrate leadership potential and plan to pursue a career in public service.
Choi is a pre-law student and aspiring wrongful convictions attorney majoring in political science and minoring in Asian American studies — with a certificate in civic engagement — in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
She has been a tutor at Stateville Correctional Center through Northwestern’s Prison Education Program (NPEP), and is passionate about raising awareness about mass incarceration and human rights injustices. Her participation in UPEP — the Undergraduate Prison Education Partnership, which supports NPEP — as co-president has been one of her “favorite, most fulfilling experiences at Northwestern,” she said.
“Being involved with UPEP has helped me realize how our country and in particular our criminal justice system has such a deeply rooted history of systemic racism and disempowering structures,” Choi added. “Going to Stateville Correctional Center and interacting with the amazing students there further solidified my commitment to our cause.”
Born and raised on the island of Guam (a U.S. territory in the Pacific) by Korean immigrant parents, Choi is interested in studying the ways in which mass incarceration affects communities of color around the country, including Pacific Islanders and those living on Guam, which will be a focus of her Truman Scholarship.
“Ji Hye’s remarkable leadership in the Northwestern Prison Education Program and her unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality educational opportunities to the NPEP students, reminds me every day of the very best that Northwestern can be,” said Jennifer Lackey, the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy and director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program.
In addition to her work in the prison education program, Choi is currently an intern at the Center on Wrongful Convictions. She is also a Brady Scholar in the Brady Program in Ethics and Civic Life and has served on the executive boards for the Korean American Student Association as well as the Womxn in Law student organizations at Northwestern.
With the scholarship, Choi intends to pursue a law degree or related graduate study with an emphasis on public interest and wrongful convictions. In addition to funding, Truman Scholars receive leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.
Ji Hye Choi is the fourth consecutive Northwestern Truman Scholar, the second consecutive prison education program Truman Scholar, and the 19th Truman Scholar since the program began. Abigail Roston was named a Truman Scholar in 2021.
Learn more about the Truman Scholarship by contacting Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships.