Georgetown student receives Truman Scholarship to continue disability rights advocacy

Georgetown undergraduate student Anna Landre (SFS’21) has been awarded a Truman Scholarship in recognition of her work championing disability rights, on and off campus. She hopes to use the scholarship to pursue a master of science in foreign service (MSFS) from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, studying policies that could open up new opportunities in employment, education, and public spaces for people with disabilities.

International activism

Awarded each year to approximately 60 college juniors who are committed to a career in public service, the Truman Scholarship provides funds for graduate education and access to a network of scholars.

Looking ahead, Landre says she intends to join the United States Foreign Service after earning her MSFS degree. She is particularly drawn to the International Disability Rights team within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Noting that the United Nations has designated people with disabilities as the largest minority group in the world, Landre says she ultimately hopes to establish an alliance or a non-profit organization to coordinate disability rights advocacy across the globe.

“I hope that establishing these connections will help disability activists learn from one another, build community across borders, and pursue a more inclusive and just world,” she says.

Landre says her undergraduate studies, and support from faculty members in Georgetown’s Disability Studies Program, have helped lay the foundation for these ambitions. In Georgetown’s MSFS program, she hopes to design a new concentration that takes an international approach to disability policy studies.

“I think the MSFS’s strong development curriculum and focus on marginalized populations will help me pursue this important and understudied area,” Landre says. The university’s “growing expertise in disability studies, our established position in the world of foreign service, and our Jesuit values” also will be crucial assets.

Domestic reforms

Landre, who has spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and is in a wheelchair, has spent time in Washington, D.C.,  “advocating for university infrastructure maintenance and planning that supports student interests and drawing attention to equity issues for people with disabilities throughout the District.” She attended the ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today) national grassroots protest in Washington, D.C., in 2019.

Related: Georgetown student working to shift the conversation about disabilities >

As a college sophomore, Landre served as chair of the Georgetown University Student Association’s Accessibility Policy Team, where she advocated for the rights of students with disabilities on campus. She also co-founded the Georgetown Disability Alliance, which promotes community-building, education, and advocacy on disability issues. The alliance has recently focused on working with Georgetown administrators to ensure that the university’s COVID-19 response reflects the access needs of students with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

In addition, Landre is working to eliminate discriminatory policies within New Jersey’s Medicaid system. Working with state legislators, she has brought five bills to the New Jersey legislature that address transparency in service determinations, care assistance for students trying to access higher education, and ensuring increased policy input from the disability community.

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