The University of Chicago is celebrating a trio of 2007 Truman scholars—more than any other school in the country.
Chicago had two scholarship recipients in 2005 and again in 2006, but this year is the first in which three students have won the scholarships, something not accomplished at any other institution this year.
Third-year College students Stephanie Bell, S.J. Cohen and Alethea Lange thought they were meeting with administrators to discuss unrelated issues Monday, March 26, but when they arrived at the William Rainey Harper Memorial Building, John Boyer, Dean of the College, alongside several other deans and administrators, announced to the three women they had been named 2007 Truman scholars by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
“We want to congratulate all of you on this tremendous achievement,” Boyer told the women. “Each one of you has demonstrated the kind of intellectual and political courage that exemplifies the highest ideals of the College and of the Truman legacy. We are honored to have you as Chicago’s representatives in this year’s cohort of Truman scholars.”
Bell, Cohen and Lange were selected out of hundreds of applicants across the country competing for the scholarships—typically only 50 are selected annually. Each recipient is awarded up to $30,000 in graduate education funding.
“We are extremely proud of these young women,” said Susan Art, Dean of Students in the College. “They are extremely capable and passionately committed to issues crucial to our shared future.”
Noted Rovana Popoff, a member of the Truman selection committee and a Senior Adviser in the College, “While each of these women is pursuing a different career path, what they have in common is a strong feminist sensibility.”
Bell, an Anthropology concentrator, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Anthropology and eventually work with international organizations on global AIDS policies. During her application process, Bell proposed initiatives to slow the spread of AIDS among prison inmates.
Cohen, who is studying History, is focusing academically on U.S. History and the History of Gender and Sexuality. She hopes to pursue a career in law, while advocating civil rights for members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer) communities. During the Truman scholarship application process, Cohen presented a policy proposal on sex designations on the birth certificates of transgendered individuals.
A double major in English Language & Literature, and Political Science, Lange presented a policy during on her application regarding attracting and retaining teachers in rural North Dakota. She hopes to gain a national- or state-level elected position in order to focus on school reform.
“While nominees are technically not competing against each other, it is not common for them to be so generous and supportive with one another,” Popoff said. “It was really nice to witness their collaborative efforts. They were so positive and forward-looking that at the end of the application process, they wanted to get together to celebrate their work—before they were even selected as Truman scholars.”
Congress founded the Truman Foundation in 1975 as the official federal memorial to Harry S. Truman, the 33rd U.S. President.
Each year, Truman scholarships are awarded to college students in their third year of education who are planning to attend graduate school, are planning to work in government or public service, and who aspire to become a leader.