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March 29, 2006 Press Contact: Julia Morse
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Two University of Chicago students named 2006 Truman Scholars

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Andrew Hammond and Nina Meigs

Andrew Hammond and Nina Meigs each got a big surprise on Monday: Truman Scholarships.

University of Chicago deans and administrators surprised the two third-year College students with applause and champagne on Monday evening to celebrate their selection by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation as 2006 Truman Scholars.

“This is really a tremendous achievement,” John Boyer, Dean of the College, told Hammond and Meigs. “You both have an enormous amount to be proud of.”

Hundreds of college students around the country compete every year for a Truman Scholarship, which awards scholars up to $30,000 for graduate school. Just 75 students make up the final group for 2006.

“Truthfully, I was really stunned, completely astonished,” Hammond said. “I was humbled just to be nominated.”

Meigs agreed. “After we met some of the other finalists, we were shocked that we’d even made it that far. These were some truly supreme individuals. This is an incredible honor,” she said.

“The University of 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.”

Nominees were also required to submit a policy proposal on a pressing societal issue. Hammond chose poverty in America; Meigs selected trafficking in persons, focusing on the credibility and effectiveness of the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Law.

During his interviews with the Truman Scholarship Selection Committee at the University, Hammond demonstrated maturity, strong principles, confidence and a pragmatic attitude, committee members said.

Strengthening Hammond’s candidacy were his academic performance, his record of volunteer work and his leadership in the community.

Among his accomplishments, Hammond worked on Senator Barack Obama’s 2004 election campaign and has interned at the National Center for Children in Poverty.

During his nomination interview with the selection committee, Hammond said, in reference to a series of Chicago Maroon editorials he wrote on poverty in America, “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.”

After learning of his selection as a Truman Scholar, Hammond said, “I am so grateful to the University and the College. I owe so much to the school because everyone puts emphasis not just on what I’ve done, but what I want to do — and that’s really something.”

Rovanna Popoff, the on-campus Truman representative and Advisor in the College, said that Hammond stood out as a nominee from early stages of the selection process on campus.

“As a person, Andrew is both motivated and principled,” Popoff said. “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, administrators saw an outstanding worldly perspective, unwavering convictions, ambition and undying energy.

Coming from a diplomatic family, Meigs spent much of her childhood abroad, including West Africa and attending a Swiss high school.

She said that one of her goals after graduate school is to focus on poverty eradication in Africa and that growing up there has allowed her to have an inner-perspective on the problem.

In addition to English, Meigs is fluent in Spanish and French. The first English speaking school she ever attended was the University of Chicago.

“I’m very proud to be an American at this stage of the game,” she said. “The focus on helping those in need is so important to me and I feel that here.”

For the last two years, Meigs has volunteered as an interpreter with the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center in Chicago, working with those seeking asylum while fleeing human rights violations in Africa and Latin America.

Mary Daniels, a member of the Truman Scholarship Selection Committee and an Advisor in the College, said that the extraordinary experiences Meigs has had allow her to see the U.S. internationally, as part of a bigger picture, with “global political responsibilities.”

The Truman Foundation was established 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 on working in the government or another form of public service, and who aspire for a life in leadership and wish to attend graduate school to further their careers.

In its mission statement, the Truman Foundation says the goal of Truman Scholarships is to “find and recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service; and to provide them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service.”

This is the second year in a row that the University of Chicago has had two students win Truman Scholarships in the same year. Last year was the first year there were multiple recipients.
Last modified at 01:03 PM CST on Wednesday, March 29, 2006.

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