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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

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Scholarship opportunity for ‘agents of social change’

Last week, the Office of National Fellowships held information sessions on the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to students interested in public service after attending graduate school and receiving anything ranging from a master’s to a doctorate degree.

Director of National Fellowships, Dr. Arthur Sutherland, led the information session, and explained that his job is to inform students about academic opportunities available to them. He said that recipients of the Truman Scholarship must work within a federal agency for 3 to 7 years after receiving a graduate degree, however the time required to work in such an agency is dependent upon how much financial aid is granted.

To obtain the scholarship, Loyola must endorse the students before they can apply to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Loyola can only nominate four students to receive the award, and so there is a selection process in which students must participate to be selected to apply for the scholarship from the national foundation. First, students must write a letter of intent and send it to Sutherland by November 1. In days following, students will receive instructions from Sutherland to complete the online application and submit it in an interview at Loyola by Dec. 30.

By Jan. 15, Loyola will select its four candidates and will coach them on how to improve their application for its final submission to the Truman Foundation, due Feb. 4.

“In the end, it’s your application…your voice has to come out,” said Sutherland, who explained that Loyola faculty could only advise students how to best write their application, but only the students themselves can decide what they want their application to say.

Sutherland explained that the scholarship is for students who want to be agents of social change. In the application, there is a policy proposal component in which a student must draft a policy to correct a social problem about which he or she is passionate. He said students needed to find a problem, research solutions and obstacles, and find ways to overcome difficulties. For this portion, Sutherland said, it would be best that students found a faculty mentor to aid them in the writing of their public policy change.

“Write persuasively,” Sutherland said. “This is your one chance to make a difference.”

In addition to the proposal, students are required to have three letters of recommendation that respond to different aspects of each student’s life: his or her leadership ability, academic ability and future career plans. This also means that students must cultivate relationships with faculty members, and Sutherland said it is important for students to do so.

Students also need to include a personal statement in their application, which can be used to explain inadequacies in one’s academic record, but is also for students to look five or more years into the future and predict their careers.

“Have the confidence to say I’m going to do this,” said Sutherland.

Sutherland explained that while grades are important, community service is the most important aspect of the application. He explained that most students applying to the Truman Scholarship at Loyola are within the top quarter of their class, with a GPA of about 3.5 or higher. Even so, he said that there is no minimum GPA requirement for students to apply. He said that the Truman Scholarship Foundation is looking for students who feel strongly about social issues and have become agents of social change during their collegiate tenure.

“There’s a difference between the student who goes to CCSJ and volunteers at Beans and Bread…[they’re] looking for the student who created Beans and Bread,” said Sutherland, who described such students as visionaries, willful and determined.

The scholarship is named after former president, Harry S. Truman, but his estate does not endow the scholarship. Rather, it is named after him as a “living memorial” to his belief in attracting young people to public service to create a better future, according to the Truman Scholarship Foundation’s website.

Sutherland also said that students going abroad can apply for the scholarship with little trouble. He stipulated, however, that students should communicate with him through Skype and email, and that they must be present for the interview conducted at Loyola in December.

Additionally, Sutherland encouraged all students to apply and said he is willing to answer anyone’s questions, and that they may email him at [email protected].

“Even if you never win the Truman, it will change your life,” Sutherland said.

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    Arthur SutherlandOct 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you for this important article about the Truman Scholarship. I want to point out that students who are abroad do not have to return to Loyola for a campus interview. The interview can be done by Skype. However, if they are selected later as a finalist by Truman, then they must return to the States for an interview with the Truman national board.

    Dr. Arthur M. Sutherland
    Director of National Fellowships
    Loyola University Maryland

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Scholarship opportunity for ‘agents of social change’