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Pair of undergraduates receive Truman Scholarships

March 28, 2007

University of Wisconsin–Madison juniors Adam Schmidt and Max Bruner are among 65 students from 56 colleges and universities nationwide who have been selected as 2007 Truman Scholars. They were chosen from among 585 candidates nominated by 280 public and private institutions.

“It is a great and rare honor for two students from one university to receive Truman scholarships in the same year and it speaks volumes about the caliber of UW–Madison students,” says Julie Stubbs, director of undergraduate academic awards in the provost’s office.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, established by Congress in 1975, awards $30,000 scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. Selection is based on leadership potential, intellectual ability, and the likelihood of making a difference, according to the foundation’s announcement of the 2007 scholars late yesterday.

Provost Patrick Farrell broke the news to Schmidt in front of his Constitutional Law discussion section last Thursday.

“The provost’s visit was unexpected and surreal. I’ll never forget it,” says Schmidt. “What a relief it was to hear the news!”

It would have been difficult to notify Bruner in person, since he is currently at American University in Cairo, Egypt, where he is studying Arabic and taking a range of classes covering the history, political economy, politics and culture of the Middle East. He learned about his scholarship via the Internet.

“Receiving the provost’s e-mail was incredibly gratifying and brought a long and rewarding process to an exciting end,” said Bruner. “It brings me great honor to represent the university.”

Bruner, who is from Santa Barbara, Cal., is majoring in Middle East studies, political science, and international studies with a focus on global economics. He hopes to use his scholarship to continue pursuing his interests in domestic and foreign policy, particularly regarding energy and development-related issues. He is interested in working for the State Department initially and would like to attend law school.

In 2005, he founded the Roosevelt Institution, a student think tank, and served as its executive director. He was the creator and editor of the Wisconsin Roosevelt Review, a public policy journal, and he started the Globalist Review, an online blog for a print journal of international cultural and political affairs. In November 2006 he was a delegate to the Security Council in the Cairo International Model U.N.

Bruner’s public service activities have included teaching English to Sudanese refugees, serving as a group leader on a Civil Society tour of the Middle East, and aiding Lebanese refugees.

In summer 2006, he was a policy research intern for State Sen. Mark Miller. On campus, he served as assistant director of undergraduate voting for U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

Bruner was featured as one of Santa Barbara Magazine’s “Most Intriguing Persons” for his work in founding the Young Democrats of Santa Barbara while a senior in high school. He is committed to increasing the awareness and active participation of high school and college students in the political process.

Schmidt, who is from Rhinelander, is majoring in political science and geography. While at UW–Madison, he has been the opinion editor for the Daily Cardinal, served on the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board, and participated in the 2006 Model U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the College Republicans and was a volunteer for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004 and the gubernatorial campaign of Mark Green last fall. Last summer, he interned at the White House.

In the area of public service and community activities, Schmidt was an organizer of Rhinelander’s Smoke-Free Air for Everyone campaign and served as the student representative to the Rhinelander Board of Education. He has been an intern with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and a Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

Schmidt is currently a research assistant in the School of Medicine and Public Health, where he also worked as a program assistant in the Master of Public Health program. He says he would like to use his scholarship to attend law school and concentrate his study in health law while seeking a master of public health (MPH) degree.

“I am truly blessed to have such an opportunity,” says Schmidt. “The Truman Scholarship is about so much more than money. Scholars become part of a unique network of service-oriented leaders and it is an honor to be counted among their ranks.”

“Max and Adam’s commitment to public service exemplifies the Wisconsin Idea — the belief that what we do at the university should benefit the larger community,” says Stubbs. “I hope their well-deserved success in this prestigious competition will encourage more of our students to apply for the Truman scholarships.”