April 20, 2009
For the fourth consecutive year, a Seattle University student has been awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the most prestigious academic award for undergraduates embarking on careers in public service. The scholarship provides $30,000 for graduate studies.
SU’s 2009 Truman Scholar is Aerica Banks of the College of Arts and Sciences. Banks was one of only 60 juniors nationwide who were selected for the scholarship from a pool of about 600 candidates. She is the only Truman Scholar in the state of Washington, and of the nation’s 28 other Jesuit institutions, only one other school, Georgetown University, has a scholar.
An environmental studies major in the College of Arts and Sciences with a specialization in public policy and urban affairs, Banks is a graduate of the Core Honors Program and president of SU’s Young Democrats. She plans to attend Princeton University’s Junior Summer Institute on a public policy and international affairs fellowship before studying environmental issues and urban affairs in the fall at Japan’s Sophia University. She will then return to the AIDS Orphan Support Trust in Jinja, Uganda, where she is now a board member. After graduating next spring, she will have an internship in Washington, D.C., and apply to Princeton to pursue a Masters in Public Affairs and Juris Doctorate.
With Banks’ selection, Seattle University’s impressive string of Truman Scholars continues. The seven scholars SU has produced in as many years place the university among the top 15 schools in the country. “It’s amazing to see the great company that Seattle University has,” said President Stephen Sundborg, S.J.
Jerry Cobb, S.J., associate professor of English and SU’s faculty representative for the Truman Scholars program, attributes the university’s Truman success to a combination of the university’s academic program and the kinds of students it enrolls. Of the 13 Truman Scholars SU has had since 1984, Fr. Cobb says eight have been Sullivan Scholars and all but one have gone through the university’s Honors Program. “All of our Truman scholars have participated extensively in the wide range of domestic and international programs SU features that support students who wish to commit themselves to lives of public service,” he says.
For her part, Banks sees a simpatico between SU’s values and its success in producing Truman Scholars. “The university’s commitment to social justice goes hand in hand with the Truman Foundation’s belief in public service,” she said. “Seattle University fosters the kind of leadership that the Truman Foundation is looking for.”
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