The scholarship, which funds two years of graduate study at any institution in the United Kingdom, was founded in 1953 in honor of former U.S. secretary of state George Marshall. Each year, roughly 1,000 applicants are endorsed by their universities, and around 170 are invited to interview. The scholarship is awarded to up to 40 individuals nationwide.
Lanney said she was “incredibly grateful and incredibly surprised” to win the scholarship. “I thought, ‘It’s a crapshoot. There’s so many amazing people,’ ” she said, citing the extreme competitiveness of the prestigious scholarship’s application process.
Lanney is also the chair of The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board.
After finishing her education, Lanney said she hopes to work as an urban policymaker, first “in city governments in the U.S. and other countries” and then with federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to “deal with these issues on a national level.”
Lanney said her interest in urban policy was sparked when she went on a Student Volunteers Council (SVC) break trip to New Orleans in 2007.
“It made me really want to study urban policy and made me think that this was an area I could make a difference in,” she said.
Lanney, who is also a member of the mock trial team, would later return to New Orleans with SVC in 2008, and again in 2009, but as the trip’s leader. Lanney also spent the summer of 2008 working in New Orleans as a policy intern in the city’s Office of Recovery and Development Administration. She spent this past summer working at the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program.
Lanney’s professors praised the passion and talent she brings to her studies.
Wilson School visiting lecturer Jim Verdier, who co-taught Lanney’s task force on health care for low-income people last spring, praised her abilities. “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,” he said in an e-mail.
“I’m impressed by Jessica Lanney’s energy, diligence, and passion for researching and writing a senior thesis that can make a meaningful contribution to addressing family homelessness, focusing on Massachusetts,” Wilson School visiting lecturer David Kinsey GS ’75, who is Lanney’s thesis adviser, said in an e-mail.
Wilson School professor Hugh Price also praised Lanney’s “deep passion for equity, opportunity and social justice.”
“I love to see that in immensely talented students like Jessica, because the world hungers for future leaders like her who will keep hope alive for the least among us,” he said.
Lanney is also an avid Boston sports fan and said she is looking forward to rowing crew in Britain next year.
In 2008, one Princetonian was awarded the Marshall Scholarship, Wilson School concentrator Michael Shih ’09.
In 2007, Sarah Vander Ploeg ’08 won the scholarship to study at London’s Royal College of Music, and in 2006, four Princetonians were named Marshall Scholars. Tamara Broderick, Neir Eshel, Tianhui “Michael” Li and Alexander “P.G.” Sittenfeld were among the 43 national winners that year.