Third-years win Truman scholarships for graduate studyBy Julia Morse
Two third-year College students each got a big surprise on Monday: Truman Scholarships.
Andrew Hammond and Nina Meigs thought they were heading to the William Rainey Harper Memorial Building for a casual meeting with administrators on an unrelated topic, but when they arrived, John Boyer, Dean of the College, as well as College deans and administrators announced that Hammond and Meigs had been named 2006 Truman scholars by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
Meigs gasped in her surprise; Hammond grinned ear-to-ear.
“This is really a tremendous achievement,” Boyer said. “You both have an enormous amount to be proud of.”
Meigs joked, “If I’d known this was why I was coming here today, I would have dressed up a little!”
Hammond and Meigs were chosen out of hundreds of college juniors from across the country competing for the scholarships this year—only 75 were selected. Each recipient is awarded up to $30,000 in scholarship money for graduate school.
“Chicago’s Truman Scholars exhibit a wonderful quality shared by many of our undergraduates—the ability to use their educations to find solutions to real world problems,” said Susan Art, Dean of Students in the College. “We are immensely proud of both Andrew and Nina.”
Meigs and Hammond were two of four College students—all of whom excelled in public service and had a GPA of 3.6 or higher—nominated through the College for Truman scholarships this year.
Nominees also were required to submit a policy proposal on a pressing societal issue. Hammond chose poverty in America; Meigs chose human trafficking.
College administrators say Hammond demonstrated maturity, strong principles, confidence and a pragmatic attitude.
Strengthening his candidacy were his academic performance at the University, his record of volunteer work and his leadership in the community. Hammond worked on Senator Barack Obama’s 2004 election campaign and interned at the National Center for Children in Poverty.
During his nomination interview with the Truman Scholarship Selection Committee, Hammond said in reference to poverty in this country, “Self-reliance is American, but so is generosity. Ambition is American, but so is magnanimity. Working for oneself is American, but so is working for others.”
Rovana Popoff, a member of the selection committee and an Adviser in the College, explained how Hammond clearly stood out among the nominees in the initial stages of the on-campus selection process.
Popoff noted that Hammond’s articulation and confidence made the selection committee meeting with him feel “less like an interview with an undergraduate and more like a conversation among colleagues.”
She added that Hammond is both motivated and principled. In the selection process, Popoff noted: “His achievements were not born out of a desire to be recognized and congratulated, but out of a deep concern for those without. He seeks not to be a ‘leader,’ but to lead on questions that are at the core of American society.”
In Meigs, the selection committee saw an outstanding worldly perspective, unwavering convictions, ambition and undying energy.
Coming from a diplomatic family, Meigs spent part of her childhood in West Africa and attended a Swiss high school. In addition to English, she is fluent in Spanish and French.
For the last two years, Meigs has volunteered as an interpreter with the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center in Chicago, working with asylum seekers fleeing human rights violations.
Mary Daniels, a member of the 2006 selection committee and an Adviser in the College, noted in Meigs’ citation: “Her unusual experiences have allowed her to develop a much more international view of the United States and its global political responsibilities.”
Daniels also pointed out that Meigs believes in a duty by Americans to foster education about democracy in undeveloped and developing countries around the world.
“She possesses a degree of practical knowledge in such matters that extends beyond the classroom experience,” Daniels noted.
The Truman Foundation was founded in 1975 by Congress as the official federal memorial to Harry S. Truman, the 33rd U.S. President.
Truman scholarships are awarded to college students in their third year who plan to work in government or public service, and who aspire for a life in leadership and wish to attend graduate school to further their careers.
This is the second year in a row that Chicago has had two College students win Truman scholarships in the same year. Last year was the first time there were multiple recipients.