April 2, 2009
Vol. 28 No. 13

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    Dedicated public service, persuasive proposal earn third year a 2009 Truman

    By Sarah Galer
    News Office

    Photo by Lloyd DeGrane

    Antonia Clifford

    Antonia Clifford has been selected as a 2009 Truman scholar, a distinction awarded annually to about 65 socially committed college juniors in the United States.

    Clifford, a third-year Sociology concentrator with a Latin American Studies and Gender Studies minor, plans to use the $30,000 award from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation study for a Masters in Public Policy and Public Health. Much of her current work and future plans focus on mental health and issues of identity, particularly among young people and their community.

    In the award’s rigorous selection process, each applicant must demonstrate a long record of public service, go through several rounds of interviews and write a persuasive public policy proposal. Clifford wrote about teen suicide prevention and mental health awareness at the high school level.

    “The fact that I am a representative from New Mexico, and that much of my proposal centers on my home state, reassures me that I can remain connected to New Mexico while continuing to follow the issues that inspire me,” said Clifford.

    John Boyer, Dean of the College, noted, “We are extremely proud of Antonia’s achievements. She represents the highest standards of academic achievement, combined with a deep dedication to civic leadership and service.”

    The Truman Scholarship Foundation’s mission is to seek out college juniors who exhibit outstanding leadership potential and who are “committed to making a difference through public service.” Each year, it receives more than 600 nominations for the award.

    “Antonia is a highly effective student leader who will, I am sure, be an important agent of change in the future,” said Susan Art, Dean of Students in the College.

    Andrea Glaeser, Associate Professor in Sociology and the College, wrote a letter of recommendation for Clifford’s scholarship application. “Not only does Antonia have a remarkable gift for understanding difficult concepts, but she also has a real knack for using them to make sense of the world in which we live, and to think of ways to make it a better place.”

    Each accredited four-year U.S. educational institution is allowed to nominate up to four candidates to the Truman Scholarship Foundation. The Truman Foundation later chooses about 200 finalists from across the nation to be interviewed by a panel of judges in their home state region.

    Kristin Greer Love, a 2005 Truman Scholar and current Law School student at Chicago, helped Clifford and the two other finalists from the University prepare for their final interviews.

    “In her application and interview, Antonia showed that she is deeply committed to public service, is weary of quick-fix solutions and engages thoughtfully with those who disagree with her. Those qualities are what the Truman scholarship is all about,” said Love.

    Congress founded the Harry S. Truman Foundation in 1975 as a federal memorial to the 33rd U.S. President. Selected students receive up to $30,000 in support for graduate study, leadership training, and opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.