Xavier Student Receives Prestigious Truman Award

April 21, 2008

Brett Simmons, 21, of Columbus, IN, a junior at Xavier University in Cincinnati, was selected as one of 65 students named a 2008 Truman Scholar. Simmons is majoring in theology and economics with minors in history and gender and diversity studies. His parents are Julie and Earl Simmons and he graduated from Columbus East High School.


The Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation reviewed 595 candidates nominated by 283 colleges and universities. They were elected by seventeen independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of “making a difference.” A selection panel, including a university president, a federal judge, a distinguished public servant, and a past Truman Scholarship winner, interviewed finalists from a 3 - 4 state region and generally elected one Scholar from each state and one at-large Scholar from the region.


Simmons has spent a semester in India, researched at the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, and directed a nonprofit internship program. Recently he spent a semester studying in the Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati and currently works at a community-housing group and researches microfinance for field work in Tanzania. In his free time, Brett enjoys traveling, theological debate, and sitting on his stoop. He is seeking to earn a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning with a career goal of working in Housing, Community and Economic Development.


"The Truman has been very confirming of the choices I have made throughout my time at Xavier,” said Simmons. “I especially hope that it further validates the importance of service learning semesters in the formation of so many Xavier students, as I know that my own reflections during the interview and application would not have been possible otherwise. I also can't help but think of all the people from high school to now that have taken the time to invest in my education and character. It is very humbling."


Each Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be US 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.


The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the thirty-third President. The Foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the Foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. There have been 2,610 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.


The 2008 Truman Scholars will assemble May 13 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, on May 18, 2008.