Jared McDonald didn’t pursue many scholarships before he began his college career. He only applied for a handful prior to his freshman year with the O’Neill School as a Civic Leadership major.
“I thought I probably didn’t meet the requirements,” he recalls.
It was a nudge from faculty that would make him take another look at the Hudnut Scholarship in Public Leadership. The scholarship provides $1,000 for undergraduate Public Affairs majors to intern with the city of Indianapolis. To qualify, students must show they are capable of making an impact on the city. McDonald’s instructors gave him the push he needed to take the next step.
“Hearing my professors say they were confident I was a good fit for this position was enough for me to get excited about it and apply for it,” he says. “I would not be here if not for that nudge.”
One of the faculty members who encouraged McDonald was Assistant Professor Cullen Merritt. McDonald is a student researcher for The Prompt Group, created by Merritt.
“Something Dr. Merritt always talks about is public service motivation,” McDonald says. “Some people either innately have or develop a strong drive to work for the public and better society. I think that’s the foundation for this scholarship.”
McDonald first saw public service in his own family. His father was a police officer for 12 years. Now a computer science major, McDonald say he plans to use those skills to support public service.
“One thing I realized in O’Neill was that I can still make an impact on government and education with my computer science degree,” he says. “My public service motivation hasn’t changed.”
After McDonald was selected as the Hudnut Scholar, he met with his internship supervisor and with O’Neill career advisor Kathleen Hursh to find a department in which he could excel and make an impact. They found it through the O’Neill alumni network.
“Something the O’Neill School preaches is networking,” McDonald says. “This Hudnut Scholarship got my foot in the door to make connections I might not otherwise be able to find.”
The critical connection came from O’Neill alumnus Fady Qaddoura (MPA’11), Indianapolis’ city controller and chief financial officer.
“Having the connection with Fady allowed me to find internships and positions that weren’t posted, but were still needed,” McDonald says. “My supervisors and the career team at O’Neill worked with me to find the best fit for me, not just the best fit for the description of the scholarship.”
McDonald’s best fit was in the city’s Office of Audit and Performance. During his work there, McDonald was on the performance side of the house, focusing on data visualizations and working on high-level projects to present to the public.
“They trusted that O’Neill had prepared me for handling important tasks and working with people in prominent positions on some of the OAP’s best projects,” he says. “This is a golden ticket for O’Neill majors.”
These experiences are the type that students may not find in other internships.
“The biggest thing the Hudnut Scholarship did for me was to force me to put my foot in the door,” McDonald says. “It shows you that working in local government isn’t just about red tape. It’s about having the opportunity to make the area you live in a better environment for people.”
Students can apply for the Hudnut Scholarship on the O’Neill IUPUI website. The deadline is March 1.