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Success & Impact

Political Science Grad Named Future Nobel Laureate

Maddie DeMarco ’22, ’23 (MS) was recently selected as one of 10 participants in the prestigious Future Nobel Laureate Scholarship program. After working with fellow scholars from around the world, DeMarco will present her work at the Nobel Museum in Sweden this winter.

Maddie DeMarco DeMarco shown here in her Commencement robes showing off HawkHUB. Photo credit: Sean Marshall Lin Photography.

Written by: Alex Hargrave ’20

Published: October 7, 2022

Total reading time: 4 minutes

As an undergraduate and now graduate student at Saint Joseph’s University, Maddie DeMarco ’22, ’23 (MS) built her identity on campus as a Hawk with and for others. She’ll take those passions to Sweden, where she will travel in December as part of the Future Nobel Laureate Scholarship program, for which she was one of just 10 students selected.

The public policy master’s student and 2022 political science graduate says she applied for the prestigious program — created by the College Study Division of Education First and the Forum on Education Abroad, in collaboration with the Nobel Prize Museum — for the chance to study abroad after the coronavirus pandemic thwarted her chance to study in Belgium in 2020.

This fall, DeMarco and nine other students from around the world will complete a course together, exploring the intersection of science and global communities, which will culminate in a final project that explores their collective impact on the future that she will present at the Nobel Prize Museum in Sweden in December.

The program’s mission is fueled by a common belief that in order to change the world, you need to experience it. Working with various political science professors and other mentors, DeMarco’s changemaking work in her five years at Saint Joseph’s has helped students and other community members acquire basic needs.

One of the founding student members of HawkHUB, the University’s food and basic needs resource center, and a founder of the career closet, a space where students can take and wear donated professional clothing, DeMarco’s passion is at the margins of combatting basic need insecurities and closing gaps to success.

Before taking the political science track, she was an autism studies major. That changed in her first semester when she enrolled in a service learning class about food insecurity with Becki Scola, PhD, professor and chair of political science, who influenced her choice to become a political science and became her academic advisor and mentor.

I knew about all of these issues before coming to college, but learning about the systems and institutions, it just really sparked interest for me.

Maddie DeMarco ’22, ’23 (MS)

“We served at a food pantry three hours a week and also learned about systemic issues of food and basic need insecurity,” DeMarco says. “I knew about all of these issues before coming to college, but learning about the systems and institutions, it just really sparked interest for me.”

For Laura Bucci, PhD , assistant professor of political science and co-director of public policy, DeMarco’s upcoming experience as a future Nobel laureate scholar is a chance for her to take the work she’s done on campus and consider it on a global scale.

“There's a focus on sort of practical policy interventions, which I think is something that Maddie has been very good at if we think of her work at St. Joe's in particular,” Bucci says. “She's good at recognizing a problem and coming up with solutions and working towards that process. The ability to meet similar-minded people outside of the United States where you can see other people creating change in their own respective locations, that is a wonderful opportunity.”

Jenny Spinner, PhD, professor of English, writing and journalism, has also had the opportunity to work closely with DeMarco through HawkHUB and recommended her for the program together with Bucci.

“Supporting Maddie for this scholarship was an easy decision,” Spinner says. “If you think of what the Nobel prizes represent — work benefiting humankind — that’s the sort of path Maddie blazed here at St. Joe’s as a political science scholar, leader and changemaker.”

DeMarco and students like her, Bucci says, come into Saint Joseph’s wanting to make the world a better place, and they learn in undergraduate and graduate studies how to make change, honing technical skills such as writing, coding and analysis.

“I put Maddie and I put a lot of our students, really, on par with some of the real changemakers out in the world,” Bucci says.

It’s with these skills that DeMarco hopes to pursue a career in policy that addresses childhood wellbeing and systemic accessibility issues to basic necessities when she graduates with her master’s.

“My passion lies with children and making sure they have access to all of the important things,” she says. “They're in critical stages of development where if they don't have access to food, stable housing, or healthcare, they fare way worse into adulthood.”