A Passion for Public Service



By Tom Linder
Hamid Mohiuddin (PSYC 3rd Year)

For Hamid Mohiuddin (PSYC 3rd Year), public service has always been a high priority.

In his third year as a student at Illinois Institute of Technology, Mohiuddin has received the Obama Foundation’s Voyager Scholarship for Public Service. His commitment to public service made him an ideal candidate to receive the scholarship, which was created in 2022 to empower young leaders to bridge divides and help solve the biggest challenges.

The biggest challenge that Mohiuddin hopes to tackle? Addressing health care disparities, both in the Chicago area and around the world.

“Throughout undergrad, I’ve been doing research and volunteer work related to health care disparities,” says Mohiuddin. “I work with the Chicago Health Disparities Center based at Illinois Tech with Patrick Corrigan and Lindsey Sheehan. Some of the projects I’ve worked on with them are related to health care disparities, especially with people who have mental illness.…I’ve seen firsthand what health care inequity looks like, especially in the Chicago area. I hope to pursue a path as a doctor and as a professional beyond medical school to close the gap that definitely exists in America’s health care system.”

The scholarship, created by former President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama along with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, provides up to $50,000 in financial aid, a $10,000 stipend, and free Airbnb housing for a summer voyage meant to help the student pursue a work-travel experience.

“It provides funding and opportunities that allow us to pursue public service anywhere in the world,” says Mohiuddin. “We’re encouraged to go to different countries, experience new cultures, intern with different companies, volunteer with public service organizations, stuff like that.”

In addition to the summer experience, the scholarship also provides a $2,000 travel stipend each year for the following 10 years, as well as invitations to the organization’s annual fall summit and speaker series.

“I was invited to the fall summit and Democracy Forum this past November where I joined the inaugural voyager class and other Obama Scholars,” says Mohiuddin. “It was a really great opportunity; a lot of great workshops and a lot of cool people there. Having access to that network is really awesome, and I think it will definitely be beneficial for my career.”

Though his plans for the summer experience are not yet finalized, Mohiuddin hopes it will allow him to become more immersed in health care policy, both at a local and global level. Along with his plans to continue onto medical school and become a physician, his long-term goal is to create broader changes by working with policymakers and legislators. And perhaps the best thing he’s already taken away from receiving this opportunity has been the network of fellow voyagers and mentors that Mohiuddin has been able to build since earning the scholarship.

“Being part of the Obama Foundation, there’s a lot of mentorship opportunities, a lot of networking opportunities,” says Mohiuddin. “The biggest thing is being surrounded by fellow voyagers who are so passionate, so ambitious, and so driven. Being in the company of people like that makes myself more driven and more ambitious. Having a network of people who are going to make a real change, the next generation of change, really excites me.

“I’m going into health care because I want to serve humanity.”

Photo: Illinois Tech’s Hamid Mohiuddin (PSYC 3rd Year). Mohiuddin is one of just 100 recipients of the second cohort of the Obama Foundation's Voyager Scholarship for Public Service.