WMU News

WMU senior wins prestigious Truman Scholarship

March 28, 1999

KALAMAZOO--Sara D. Woodward, a Western Michigan University senior from Holland, Mich., has been named a Truman Scholar, officials from the Truman Foundation announced in Washington, D.C., March 26.

Woodward, a political science major, was one of 65 scholars selected from among 657 candidates nominated by colleges and universities around the nation to receive one of the awards, which provides $30,000 -- $3,000 to complete an undergraduate degree and $27,000 to fund two or three years of graduate study.

Woodward is the first WMU student to be named a Truman Scholar since the program was established by Congress in 1975. WMU students have reached the finalist stage of the competition in each of the past three years.

The 1999 Truman Scholars were selected by 19 independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual capacity and likelihood of making a difference in public life, said Louis H. Blair, executive secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, in making the announcement.

"I am absolutely delighted at Sara's success in this highly competitive effort," said WMU President Elson S. Floyd, in response to the news. "I've come to know Sara quite well and I can truly say she represents the very best of the kind of student our University prepares for public service. She is someone we will watch with great pride as her future unfolds."

Woodward, who is planning to pursue a career in international relations, has specialized in international and comparative politics in her studies at WMU, focusing on China and East Asia in particular. In addition to her political science major, she will complete a minor in Chinese language before graduating in April 2000. She will travel to China next year to complete her undergraduate studies at the Beijing Language and Culture Institute. After completing graduate school, she hopes to work in a federal agency, such as the Department of State, in the area of foreign policy development.

Woodward, a member of WMU's Lee Honors College, also has taken advantage of European study abroad programs as an undergraduate and spent a semester in Dublin during her sophomore year.

Also interested in U.S. politics, Woodward served as a congressional intern for Rep. Fred Upton in Washington, D.C., last summer and she was actively involved last fall in the state senate political campaign of Kristi Carambula.

She has been an active in a variety of campus organizations and initiatives, including taking part in Alternative Spring Break for two years and volunteering at a local middle school as well as working with such groups as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the League of Women Voters. She has written for the student newspaper, served as a member of WMU's delegation to the Model Arab League and presented a paper at the Michigan Academy of Science and Letters. Earlier this month, Woodward was named the Department of Political Science's Presidential Scholar, the highest honor awarded to a WMU senior.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established as a federal memorial to the nation's 33rd president. Its scholarships are awarded for students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service.

The rigorous competition involves completing a lengthy application as well as researching and writing a 1,000-word public policy proposal. Finalists are selected by an 18-member committee largely on the basis of leadership abilities, academic performance and potential, community service records, and demonstrated commitment to the public service. Finalists in each of 19 regions are then interviewed by the six-member independent selection panel assigned to that region. Each panel typically includes a university president, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge or a state supreme court justice, a distinguished public servant and a past Truman Scholarship winner.

Those selected as this year's Truman Scholars have a median grade point average of 3.91 and represent both public and private institutions. Among other institutions represented by this year's scholars are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Howard and Yale Universities; Radcliffe, Swarthmore and Wellesley Colleges; and the U.S. Military Academy.

Woodward will join her fellow Truman Scholars in May as the group assembles for a week-long leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony.

A complete list of 1999 Truman Scholars and additional details about the competition is available on the World Wide Web at <www.truman.gov>.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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