College is Home to Two Truman Scholarship Finalists

by David Andrews

College is Home to Two Truman Scholarship Finalists

The finalists for the 2008 Harry S. Truman Scholarship – a prestigious, competitive program that provides $30,000 for graduate study –were recently named. The selection committee endorsed two Mason candidates with majors in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences who showed impressive academic achievements, leadership skills and community involvement.

Daniel Odom is a junior majoring in global affairs and art history. He is a campus leader with the Mason Ambassadors and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer Pride Alliance. He has served in Student Government and works with Housing and Residence Life as a head resident advisor.

Last summer, Odom was an executive intern with Human Rights Campaign. He plans on pursuing a joint law/master of public administration degree in human rights law and social policy.

Alexandra Sims is a junior majoring in anthropology. She is a University Scholar, a trainer and facilitator for the National Coalition Building Institute and a leader with the Alternative Breaks program.

Sims has worked in the Office of Admissions and currently serves as a senior peer advisor with the Freshman Center. As a coordinator for the Building Bridges Peer Education Program, she helped promote awareness of HIV/AIDS and the search for solutions to the epidemic. Sims plans to pursue a joint medical/master of public health degree.

Hundreds of college juniors compete for approximately 65 Truman awards each year. The selection process requires candidates to have a strong record of public service, as well as a policy proposal addressing a particular issue in society. This year, 210 students were selected as finalists. Mason's finalists will interview in Washington, D.C., next month.

Scholars are elected by independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of “making a difference.” Each panel typically includes a university president, a federal judge, a distinguished public servant and a past Truman Scholarship winner.

Truman Scholarship recipients must be in the top quarter of their class and committed to careers in government or the nonprofit sector.

This article appeared in a slightly different format in the Mason Gazette on February 28, 2008. Photos by Evan Cantwell.