For the first time since 2013, a UC Berkeley student has won the exclusive Truman Scholarship, a grant intended for public service leaders.
Campus junior and media studies major Thomas Mangloña II is one of the scholarship’s 62 recipients in 2019. Mangloña, who serves as an executive director of UC Berkeley’s online television network CalTV, co-founded Oceania Connects, an online multimedia platform dedicated to “Reclaiming, rewriting, & connecting Oceania through critical dialogue & collaboration.”
Mangloña intends to use his scholarship to pursue graduate school where he will study journalism, and said in an email that he was drawn to journalism after seeing the impacts of its absence on his home island — Rota.
“I grew up with no newspaper printed or reporting living on my home island. I saw how the lack of a watchdog made room for corruption to flourish,” Mangloña said in an email. “Journalism to me is ‘passing the mic’ to the communities who have always had a voice, but never the access or platform to be properly heard. In my journey, it is not only a mission to create a robust and independent news climate in the Pacific, but also one that adequately trains and equips the next generation to take on the mic, too.”
The Truman Scholarship, founded in 1975, is an annual fund awarded to undergraduates in the United States. The Truman Scholarship is intended to assist recipients with graduate school, providing up to $30,000 as well as priority admissions and some supplemental graduate aid.
The scholarship is extremely exclusive — this year, only 62 students received the award out of 840 applicants. The Truman Scholarship has had “the largest number of applicants from a record number of schools in recent history,” according to a press release from The Truman Foundation.
Mangloña said his scholarship will make graduate school more achievable, and hopes to use it to assist in his dreams to start a nonprofit news organization which “advocates for press freedoms and accountability across the Pacific Islands.”
“I also want to help lead the Pacific Island’s advocacy efforts to hire more Islander journalists on a national level and advocate for more accountability in government while bringing focus to issues that disproportionately impact Pacific Islander communities such as Climate Change,” Mangloña said in his email.
While Mangloña hopes to continue serving as an advocate for Pacific Islanders, he is grateful to his editors, managers, mentors and news outlets in Guam and Saipan that hired him as a “cub reporter” in his youth.
“They trusted my voice and writing to tell the range and diversity of stories that captured the beauty and complexity of the Pacific Islands,” Mangloña said in his email. “They believed in a local island boy who simply wanted to share his people’s story of struggle and resilience.”