Kelly Stevenson ’25 Named a 2024 Key into Public Service Scholar

By Bowdoin News

Kelly Stevenson ’25, a Geoffrey Canada Scholar majoring in government and legal studies and minoring in Africana studies, is one of twenty students selected as a Key into Public Service Scholar, a program of The Phi Beta Kappa Society that recognizes exceptional liberal arts and sciences students with a demonstrated interest in pursuing careers in local, state, and federal government.

Kelly Stevenson '25
Kelly Stevenson '25

Stevenson’s time at Bowdoin has furthered his interest in public service and social advocacy. On campus, Stevenson served as a student panelist and coordinator for Parable Path Maine, facilitating discussions about the impact of the carceral state and inequity on our social well-being.

He has also worked in the Bowdoin’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives on a project highlighting the histories of the College's Black and Indigenous populations, and has participated in the Bowdoin Public Service in Washington Program, where he got to learn from public officials and speak about systemic issues within the criminal legal sphere.

Stevenson's commitment to criminal justice reform has also influenced his pursuits outside of Bowdoin. As an analyst at Campaign Zero, he has spent the past two years researching police body cameras and prison pay-to-stay policies.

Public service for me has always embodied a fundamental principle that I once learned and continue to strive for—that one hand must wash the other,” said Stevenson, who’s from Coram, New York. “I have benefited from the support of different communities in my life and public service allows me to reciprocate that same goodwill onto others.”

After graduation, Kelly intends to earn his master’s degree in public administration and pursue a career in government where he can continue his social justice work. “My desire to work in government is informed by the past two years I’ve spent pursuing criminal justice reform in the nonprofit world,” said Stevenson. “Seeing the good that can be achieved through local advocacy, it is my goal to broaden the reach of these efforts through government office.” 

Chosen from more than 700 applicants attending Phi Beta Kappa chapter institutions across the nation, Stevenson and his nineteen fellow scholars display notable breadth and depth across the arts and sciences.

In celebration of their achievements, all twenty 2024 scholars will receive a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and participate in an educational conference held in Washington, DC, providing them with training and mentorship opportunities.

“Since 1776, the society has firmly stood for the principle that education in the liberal arts and sciences is essential for our democracy,” Phi Beta Kappa Secretary and CEO Frederick M. Lawrence said.

“As we recognize the Class of 2024 Key into Public Service Scholars for their academic excellence, civic dedication, and service to others, we know the impact of this program will extend far beyond monetary awards. They will receive guidance and support to navigate the complexities of governance with wisdom, integrity, and dedication to the greater good.”

Founded in December 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is recognized as the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at more than 290 colleges and universities in the US, nearly fifty alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide.