”This is a tremendous honor that speaks to the quality of the students we have at Florida State University and their commitment to serve the nation and the world.”
—FSU President T.K. Wetherell
2005 Truman Scholar
By Alonda Thomas
Florida State University's Cara Castellana has been named a 2005 Truman Scholar, one of the most prestigious honors an undergraduate can receive. The junior majoring in economics will receive $30,000 to study welfare reform at the graduate school of her choice.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation awards merit-based scholarships to college students who plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service, and wish to attend graduate or professional school to help prepare for their careers. Truman Scholars participate in leadership development programs and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.
"This is the equivalent of being a Rhodes Scholar for a junior," said Jody Spooner, director of FSU's Office of National Fellowships, whose office nominated and supported Castellana through the application process. "It is a huge honor. We hope this is the first in a new wave of student awards that rightfully pay tribute to, and assist, our students in reaching their goals."
A native of Melbourne, Florida, Castellana said her interest in helping people developed in stages from a desire to assist the elderly to the mentally feeble to the impoverished. By age 16, her tenacious drive to make a difference in the lives of others led her to volunteer at the local soup kitchen where she met people from all walks of life trying to get out of poverty, but failing.
"Working there gave me a different perspective," she said. "I know that the people at that soup kitchen don't want to be there. They are working very hard to fix their situation." Castellana currently volunteers at the Florida Association of Community Action Hunger Hotline where she hears the concerns of callers living on the welfare system.
"People call in and tell me how their food stamps got cut off because they were late to a meeting," she said. "Then when the stamps are put back on the next month, it's only for $200. The average person moving off of welfare is making $6.56 an hour and that's not enough to support one person, let alone a family."
With the support of the Truman Foundation, Castellana, an FSU Honors Program student, will pursue a doctorate in political economics. Her goal is to work with the Social Security Administration and the Executive Office of the President's Office of Management and Budget. Positions with these agencies would allow her the opportunity to work on facets of poverty and welfare, such as evaluating the effectiveness of current social service programs and developing agendas to improve public policy.
In 2005, the Foundation expects to award 70-75 Truman Scholarships on the basis of merit to junior-level students at four-year colleges and universities who have extensive records of public and community service, are committed to careers in government or elsewhere in public service, and have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills.
Visit FSU.com for more FSU news.