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University of Colorado Boulder junior Jake Reagan has been awarded a 2019 Truman Scholarship.
University of Colorado Boulder junior Jake Reagan has been awarded a 2019 Truman Scholarship.

University of Colorado Boulder senior Jake Reagan is among 32 Americans to receive a  Rhodes scholarship to study at England’s Oxford University, marking the second year in a row that a student from the university has won the coveted award.

Reagan, a Boulder native and Boulder High School graduate, is an honors student at CU majoring in political science and Spanish with a minor in philosophy. He learned of the award on Saturday following an interview in Salt Lake City.

“I was in disbelief and amazement,” he said. “You’re just so shocked that it’s actually you. I feel so deeply honored.”

Reagan will receive a full scholarship to study international relations at Oxford in the fall.

“I’m interested in understanding how our worlds are becoming more complex and intertwined and how communities respond to that,” he said. “I can’t imagine a better environment to study international relations than in this international cohort of amazing people.”

While he doesn’t have a specific future job in mind, he said, he wants a career where he’s “making a difference for people and making a positive impact.”

“I imagine that will be through public service, because that’s what I love,” he said.

As a junior, he was awarded a Truman Scholarship and was a CU Boulder student body president. He’s also a jazz pianist and has worked to raise awareness about both gun violence and the need for civil discourse.

“Jake possesses a unique set of attributes that made him an excellent candidate for the Rhodes and the Truman,” Deborah Viles, director of CU Boulder’s Office of Top Scholarships, said in a written statement. “He is a highly accomplished student and a thoughtful young leader who has made a powerful impact on our campus and the broader Colorado community.”

He began his freshman year as a pre-chemical engineering major, but developed a passion for public policy and public service after receiving a text message warning of an active harmer on campus during class as a freshman.

“There weren’t locks on our doors or blinds on our windows,” he said. “There wasn’t a protocol to follow. I just felt so incredibly helpless. That got me into politics. I wanted to improve safety at CU.”

As a student government leader, he said, he was part of negotiations between the student government and the administration over control of student fees.

“We wanted to rebuild relationships that over time had become really strained,” he said. “We did that through dialogue. It made me realize how impactful dialogue can be.”

That experience prompted him to found The Dialogue Initiative, a new student organization that seeks to bring people with diverse perspectives together.

“So much of our dialogue either happens within ideological silos or online,” he said. “It’s very rarely face to face where we can talk in a very human way. We want to provide a space for discussion.”

Along with his work in the political sphere, he’s fluent in Spanish and has served as an interpreter for the Emergency Family Assistance Association. This past summer, he served as a Teach for America Accelerate fellow, a summer internship for undergraduates that took him to the Midwest and rural Texas.

Reagan is the 21rst CU Boulder student to win a a Rhodes scholarship. Last year, Serene Singh became the first woman at CU Boulder to win the award and the first CU Boulder student to win it in 25 years.