March 27, 2009
Warren Seay, a junior majoring in political science in SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has been selected as a 2009 Truman Scholar. The prestigious national award recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government or elsewhere in public service.
Out of more than 600 candidates, Seay is one of 60 students from 55 U.S. colleges and universities awarded the 2009 scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study, in addition to leadership training and internship opportunities. Seay is the 12th Truman Scholar at SMU since the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975.
"This Truman Scholarship is a testament to the guidance I’ve received from my professors and mentors at SMU," says Seay, a Hunt Leadership Scholar and the president of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. "It represents the type of service-learning that SMU offers and that I want to be part of in the future."
Seay also is participating in the 2008-10 Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a leadership program in Washington, D.C. As one of only 24 students nationwide selected for the institute, he interned in Summer 2008 with the Department of Labor and met political leaders including former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"The program gives minority men a unique perspective on social problems and how we can create change through leadership," says Seay, who will return to Washington this summer for more coursework and another internship.
Seay learned about the Truman Scholarship Foundation during his time in Washington. He started the intense application process upon returning to SMU in Fall 2008, with the support of the University’s Office of National Fellowships and Awards. His application focused on minorities and education, particularly in Texas schools and his hometown district of DeSoto.
"I’ve seen what education can do for a person," he says. "The level of minority underachievement bothers me, and I want to devote graduate school and my career to closing the achievement gap that exists in our country."
As a result of his research on struggling students and schools, Seay says, he decided to launch a bid for an open seat on the DeSoto Independent School District Board of Trustees.
He told The Dallas Morning News, "I’m a lifelong product of DeSoto’s public school system, I’ve studied the issues, and I know the schools well."
J. Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science, says, "Warren combines a top-notch intellect and drive to achieve academically with genuine concern for the community. His proposal for the Truman on education reform and his related bid for the DeSoto school board reflect this admirable combination."
After the May 9 board election, Seay heads to Missouri for a Truman Scholar leadership development program at William Jewell College, where he will participate in community service projects and learn about graduate school and public service options. The scholars will receive their awards May 31 at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.
"I haven’t decided yet which graduate schools I will apply to," Seay says, "but I know public service is in my future."
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