Neily Raymond selected as Inaugural Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service recipient

The Obama Foundation and Airbnb announced that Neily Raymond of Hermon, Maine, a junior at the University of Maine, was selected as part of the inaugural Voyager Scholarship cohort of 100 rising college juniors nationwide who plan to pursue a career in public service. 

Funded by a $100 million personal contribution from Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, to the Obama Foundation, the Voyager Scholarship is a two-year program for students in their junior and senior years of college from across the U.S. who are committed to pursuing careers that serve the public and their communities.

At UMaine, Raymond majors in English and philosophy. She is on the editorial team of Spire: The Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability, and has been a staff writer for the Maine Edge. She is also a proud member of UMaine’s Franco-American Resource Opportunity Group and a teaching assistant in Franco-American Studies. She spent the first half of 2022 abroad at the University of Oxford, where she studied literature and the environment. 

With the support of the Voyager Scholarship, Raymond will pursue travel opportunities to advance her career as a science writer. She is passionate about documenting the human dimensions of environmental change in vulnerable communities. 

“As a descendant of Franco-American farmers and loggers, I believe it is important to question if, and how, conservation initiatives can respect the land traditions of diverse cultures,” she said.

The inaugural cohort of Voyagers represent 35 states and territories, and 70 colleges and universities. These “Voyagers” share a curiosity about the world and the conviction to want to make positive change — just like the scholarship’s founders. 

“Michelle and I know that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together to create it,” said President Obama. “These young Voyagers believe in a fairer and more inclusive world, and they’re ready to help us address important challenges in new ways. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish through public service.” 

“Through their stories, it’s clear that each of these Voyagers has a commitment to serving their communities, a deep curiosity about the world and big plans for the future,” said Chesky. “Traveling to new places and connecting with new people will help them turn those plans into reality and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.”

For more information about the Voyager Scholarship visit