YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – For the first time in school history, a Youngstown State University student has won the prestigious Truman Scholarship.

Jason Hess, a mechanical engineer and member of the Sokolov Honors College, is 1 of 62 students across the entire nation to receive the award.

The Harry S. Truman Foundation recognizes college juniors who are committed to pursuing careers in public service.

Hess is one of the few candidates to be named a Truman Scholar.

“Everything he has done up to this point is so aligned with what the Truman Scholarship is looking for,” said Dean of the Sokolov Honors College and Associate Provost Amy Cossentino.

The scholarship awards $30,000 to the recipient’s graduate program of choice. Upon graduation, Hess plans to pursue a master’s degree in aerospace/astronautical engineering and public policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He grew up in the small township of New Willmington, Pennsylvania, but his dreams are big.

“To be able to be the first one to represent those areas that are often thought about as not as great, as spectacular, that’s all I could ask for,” Hess said.

Hess said he is committed to serving his community.

“I’ve been in the pursuit of giving back, coaching football, going to help the students with different science competitions. It’s a continuation of the path but a greater platform to do it,” he said.

“Jason loves learning, he’s a leader and he serves,” Cossentino said.

Hess has advice for younger students who want to accomplish things like him.

“Don’t lose sight of your past. Look in your story, your specific story — all the pain, the failure — and understand there’s a golden thread to that,” he said.

For YSU, this honor is a testament to the community that supports students and their path to learning.

“It’s huge. It’s an affirmation of how Youngstown State University, the education students get here is distinctive,” Cossentino said.

Hess says he’s grateful to all the people in his life who have helped him get to this point and will continue supporting his dreams.

Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling and more.