Mason Boasts Three Finalists for Truman Scholarships

Posted: March 8, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

While George Mason University is much younger than its Ivy League counterparts, the university is keeping pace with the academic elite.

Malkit Singh
Malkit Singh

The finalists for the 2007 Harry S. Truman Scholarships, a prestigious, competitive program that provides $30,000 for graduate study, have been named, and Mason is home to three of them: Mari Leavitt, Patrick Rumley and Malkit (Mona) Singh.

With three Truman finalists, Mason ranks near the top of the list among such universities as Brown (3), Harvard (3) and Northwestern (3). Rice University, the United States Military Academy and Washington University topped the list with four finalists each.

“It’s very significant that all three of our Mason applicants were selected as finalists,” says Deirdre Moloney, coordinator for postgraduate fellowships and scholarships. “We’re ranked alongside some Ivy League institutions. That makes us really distinctive.”

The selection process for Mason was held on campus at the end of the fall semester. The selection committee endorsed three candidates who had impressive academic achievements, leadership skills and community involvement; all three made it to the final round.

Mari Leavitt
Mari Leavitt

Leavitt is a social work student who is doing research on the effectiveness of treatment programs on recidivism of female offenders. She is a counselor at the Friends of Guest House, a transitional house for women ex-offenders. She also serves as an executive officer for Mariposas, a Latina women’s mentoring program, and is co-founder of Aguilas, a Latino men’s mentoring program. Leavitt is president of the International Student Umbrella, overseeing 25 cultural organizations at Mason; she is a University Scholar and served as a Mason ambassador.

Rumley, a government major, is co-founder of the George Mason environmental awareness group and an active volunteer for the Clean Water Action campaign. Rumley spends much of his time working with orphans and underprivileged children, both regionally and internationally. He is currently in Armenia on a study abroad program as a National Security Education Program/David Boren undergraduate scholar.

Singh, a sociology major, has served as class representative of the University Scholars program, president of the American Society for Microbiology, Mason ambassador and supplemental instructor. During her sophomore year, she served as a research assistant for the Center for Neural Dynamics in Mason’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study. Singh was awarded the C.R. Walter Award for Outstanding Performance in Organic Chemistry in 2005-06.

“People of this caliber don’t just accept leadership roles in an established organization; they also create their own initiatives,” Moloney says. “It’s rare to have so many highly talented, energetic and influential students invited for Truman interviews. They aren’t simply planning on getting involved, they’re already active.”

Patrick Rumley
Patrick Rumley

Each finalist meets with representatives from the Truman Scholarship Foundation for an interview and proposal review. Rumley was interviewed on March 5. Leavitt and Singh will get their chance on March 16. The list of scholarship recipients will be announced on March 27.

Hundreds of college juniors compete for approximately 75 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.

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 U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class, and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.

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