Zag Mae Cramer Receives Voyager Scholarship
Mae Cramer (‘24), a political science major and gender studies minor, recently received the Voyager scholarship from the Obama Foundation with the help of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. She is one of 100 students from across the U.S. and around the world selected as "rising leaders who are already making a difference in their communities," receiving the opportunity to "take their work to the next level through an immersive curriculum that brings together academic, skills-based, and hands-on learning."
Cramer was looking for a little extra help with college costs and found the Voyager scholarship; but like most people, she thought this was a shot in the dark.
Cramer comes from a family of Gonzaga alumni. Her stepmother graduate in 1997 and her grandfather currently teaches at Gonzaga.
“I actually decided I wanted to apply to Gonzaga when I was nine,” said Cramer.
When Cramer arrived at Gonzaga with the class of 2024, she knew something wasn’t quite right. “I started off as an education major, looking at politics and social justice as more of a hobby, but then I realized, I could do this as my career.”
Social justice has come naturally for Cramer.
In the fifth grade she created a fundraiser at her school for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. In middle school, another fundraiser for her fellow students who could not afford school supplies. She then created a feminism club while in high school.
“I felt they those things were not being brought to light,” said Cramer.
As of recent, she traveled to Arizona and volunteered at an immigrant shelter.
At the southern border of Arizona, she served in a migrant shelter with Kino Border Initiative, which is run by Jesuits. “It further emphasized the importance of elevating the voices of those who are constantly pushed aside or unheard. I want to do a lot of work in lifting those voices up,” said Cramer.
Cramer fit all the criteria to become a Voyager scholar and seized the opportunity to apply.
“Two of my history teachers from high school forwarded me the link, telling me I should apply,” said Cramer. “I thought, ‘there is no way I am getting in this. I am just some girl from a Seattle suburb.’ ”
She had a shot though. After completing eight essay portions and working til the last minute to make her verbose personality fit into concise prompts, she applied.
Then silence. Months without a response. She felt like most people who apply for a scholarship hosted by a former president, happy they applied but knowing it was unlikely.
When she received an email that started with ”Congratulations,” she promptly “freaked out,” Cramer said.
She has had a few amazing opportunities as a Voyager, including a Zoom meeting with Barack Obama and Brian Chesky, and will attend a fall summit to meet them in person.
This summer, she will receive a stipend and housing along with an internship or customized experience.
“Right now, I am planning on going to DC for at least six weeks,” said Cramer. “The goal would be interning with a congresswoman, being an intern at the White House, or creating my own program to job shadow various leaders in the various departments I am interested in.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg for Cramer as she has big aspirations.
“I want to work in the non-profit sector, with human rights organizations, or hopefully run for office someday, not sure what type of office, just not president, no way.”