When asked what he is most proud of accomplishing during his undergraduate experience, Andrew Schumann has a lot of material to draw from, but his extensive work preparing for a career in public service is no surprise when you learn his motivations are modeled after Superman.
“I’m a big comic book fan and so from childhood, I’ve always believed that if you have an opportunity to help someone, you should take it, and so in that vein I’ve always tried to maximize my potential to help others,” Schumann said.
Schumann, graduating this May with dual bachelor’s degrees in History and Political Science, has stayed busy during his three years at The University of New Mexico. From reigniting the UNM chapter of College Democrats to participation in the Fred Harris Congressional Internship in Washington D.C., and even being named a 2023 Truman Scholar, he has found opportunities at every corner to engage with government, policy and helping others.
He grew up in a low-income, single-parent household and at times struggled with housing and food security, as well as paying for higher education. Though he is grateful to have had access to the lottery scholarship to help pay for college, he hopes to institute social change by bridging knowledge of history and policy. Schumann positioned himself well for such a pursuit, having graduated high school with six associate's degrees from Central New Mexico Community College.
“It has definitely inspired me to try to use my talents, whether that be historical understanding or policy know-how, to ensure future generations don’t have to live with the generational poverty I’ve endured,” he said.
Among his first brushes with public service was the Mayor’s Select Internship under Albuquerque Mayor Timothy Keller. Schumann worked in the family and community services department where he was able to assist with an emergency measure aimed at providing safe shelter for homeless people during the pandemic.
Schumann will spend the next year wrapping up his master’s degree in American History at UNM and is particularly interested in early twentieth-century labor movements in the U.S. He was largely inspired by his grandfather, who worked as a union organizer for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Pipefitters Local 627 and passed away in 2020.
“He had a deep sympathy for, and resonated with, the struggle of the working man,” Schumann said. “Everything I’ve done at UNM and intend to do going forward will kind of be in his memory.”
Among these achievements was organizing a Legislative Summit for UNM students. As president of both New Mexico College Democrats and the organization’s UNM chapter, Schumann helped plan a week for students in the organization to shadow lawmakers at the state capitol. Each student was able to shadow their representative and gain real policy experience.
However, it was his time interning in Washington D.C. for Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez that left the biggest
impression for him.
“My participation in the Fred Harris Congressional Internship was probably the highlight of my time overall at UNM,” he said. “Actually being able to be in D.C., working at the Capitol was just fantastic and really kind of a young public servant’s dream internship.”
Throughout his work experiences at local, state and federal government, Schumann has carried with him a reminder of what it means to be a public servant –– DC’s Justice League of America Vol. 3 Issue #1 with the variant New Mexico flag cover. The issue caught his eye when he was a kid for its flare of state pride, but the comic book has since taken on new meaning.
He’s been able to collect the signatures of New Mexican politicians like Michelle Lujan Grisham, Teresa Leger Fernandez, Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan and Melanie Stansbury.
“I think public servants and superheroes share one quality that defines their lives and that is dissatisfaction with the way that things are going and the resolve to change those,” he said.
Schumann credited his long list of achievements to the people who have encouraged him throughout his life and education. From his mother, brothers, grandfather, and girlfriend, to his faculty mentors at UNM, including: Jason Scott Smith, David Weiss, Michael Rocca, Kiyoko Simmons and Cory Munoz.
“Everything that I’ve done wouldn’t have been possible without fantastic people around me. Without my family to encourage me and support me and fantastic mentors at UNM to encourage me to reach higher.”
Upon reflection of his time at UNM, Schumann also offered encouragement to kids growing up in low-income households.
“To any other kids growing up in a low-income background who might feel like things are never going to get better for them personally or as a nation, I just want to say, don’t lose hope. It’s through hope and stubborn optimism that change arises and you can be part of that change.”