Emily Robertson ’24

A deeply passionate student with ambitions to serve in public office and be a force for good in the world is Longwood University’s 2023 nominee for the highly competitive national Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

Emily Robertson ’24 found her calling to public service soon after arriving at Longwood. Whether through an organization like the College Democrats, which she leads, a nonprofit like Clean Virginia Waterways or individual efforts, she can be usually be found advocating for justice, equality, and the environment.

Emily is a passionate advocate who leads by example and works tirelessly to support her colleagues in the pursuit of their ideals.

Dr. David Magill, professor of English Tweet This

With the College Democrats, which she led for more than a year, she has worked with statewide and congressional campaigns to canvass neighborhoods and register students to vote, as well as transforming the organization into an active advocacy group. In 2022, she partnered with College Republicans on a voter registration drive on campus. As communications intern with Clean Virginia Waterways, she spent hundreds of hours organizing International Coastal Cleanup days across the state, which annually remove about 250,000 pounds of debris from river basins—waste that would have ended up in the Chesapeake Bay.

Now, she is Longwood’s nominee for the Truman Scholarship, the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers as public service leaders.

Only 50-60 students across the country annually receive the award, making it one of the most competitive scholarships in the country. Recipients receive significant funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.

“Emily is a passionate advocate who leads by example and works tirelessly to support her colleagues in the pursuit of their ideals,” wrote Dr. David Magill, professor of English and faculty advisor to the College Democrats, in a nomination letter to the Truman Commission. “At Longwood, we strive to produce citizen leaders, and Emily is one of the brightest stars we have in that realm. She makes everyone around her better, and there is no stronger quality needed in a leader.”

The Truman Scholarship application is built around a policy proposal to address an ongoing issue. Building on her experience with Clean Virginia Waterways, Robertson wrote a proposal to replace single-use plastic tableware in Virginia restaurants and state organizations with reusable or biodegradable options, and to establish composting sites around the Commonwealth.

Robertson is a communication studies major and member of the Cormier Honors College. She serves as the president of the Honors Student Association and boasts a 4.0 grade-point average and is planning to pursue a graduate degree in public policy. 

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