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Engineering student named Truman Scholar

Taylor Holland

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For the first time in its history, the University of Alabama’s College of Engineering boasts a student who has been named a Truman Scholar.

Ryan Flamerich, a junior double majoring in chemical engineering and political science, was one of 54 scholars selected among 587 candidates nominated from 292 colleges and universities for the award, according to UA News.

He said he felt the fact that his application reflected his home, Alabama, helped make him stand out among the hundreds of other applicants.

“I did not grow up in this state, but during my time here I have developed a passion for its natural beauty and cultural heritage,” Flamerich said. “From volunteering with Read Alabama to working to fight prejudice in government or advocating against strip mining on our land, one could sense Alabama in every part of my application.”

To apply for the Truman Scholarship, students must first receive a nomination from their academic institution.

At UA, Flamerich said there is a prestige award committee within the Honors College that is responsible for reviewing all of the individuals who wish to be nominated and narrowing that pool down to just four nominees.

After being selected by the committee, Flamerich said there is a rigorous application process. He said the application itself has 15 sections including a policy proposal. If selected as a finalist, students then have to travel to a regional interview panel to be interviewed. Flamerich’s interview was in Nashville.

After those affiliated with the Truman Scholarship Foundation made their selections, they notified UA, who then notified Flamerich.

“I got an email from my faculty advisor … to, ‘Go over my interview,’” Flamerich said. “When I walked in, I was met by Dr. [Judy] Bonner, our current President, and various members of the Honors College staff. On the table was a cake congratulating me. It will be a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I was speechless.”

The mission of the Truman Scholarship Foundation is to find and recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service, according to its website.

It also seeks to provide scholars with financial support for graduate study, leadership training and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service, according to its website.

“The Truman Scholarship is based on a passion for public service. In a very real sense, engineering is service,” said Charles L. Karr, dean of UA’s College of Engineering, in a prepared statement. “Many of the problems the world faces today, from providing adequate fresh water to supplying clean sources of renewable energy, are public service challenges that require engineering solutions.

“I’m very pleased University of Alabama engineering students – who I believe are among the best in the nation – recognize their responsibility to use the engineering skills they are developing in service of humanity. Mr. Flamerich certainly personifies this commitment. We are very proud of him.”

Since arriving at UA, Flamerich, a Miami, Fla. native, has spent time as a senator in the Student Government Association, been named a Blackburn Fellow and volunteered at numerous local organizations including the Boys and Girls Club and American Red Cross, among other activities.

Established in 1975, the Truman Scholarship Foundation is supported by the U.S. Treasury. Since the first recipients were announced in 1977, UA has had 13 students selected as Truman Scholars, according to UA News.

Flamerich said law school is probably going to come next for him, academically speaking.

“Just applying for this award made a difference in my life,” Flamerich said. “The depth of the application required me to seriously look at what I wanted to do with my life. It allowed me to focus on what I truly cared about and what I didn’t. Whether I received the award or not, my life’s goal of advocating for others could now never be changed. “

 

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Engineering student named Truman Scholar