Prescott City Councilwoman Alexa Scholl, a college student at Arizona State University, has joined the ranks of four decades of exceptional U.S. scholars who have gone on to become prominent politicians, journalists, and judges.
On Tuesday, April 10, Scholl learned that she was one of 59 college students from around the country to be named Truman Scholars for 2018.
She was chosen after a rigorous interview process that, among other things, required the applicants to defend policy proposals they submitted as part of the scholarship process.
Started in 1977, the Truman Scholarships have gone in the past to notable public officials such as former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, former presidential advisor and current ABC news anchor George Stephanopoulos, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Scholl, 20, was elected to the Prescott City Council this past fall, the youngest known member to hold the office.
She currently is a junior at Arizona State University, majoring in political science. She is on track to graduate in December 2018.
Along with her college studies, Scholl also has worked for a local law firm for several years, and her goal is to attend law school after her council term.
The scholarship comes with as much as $30,000 toward graduate study, and Scholl said this week that it would expand opportunities in her coming choice of law school. “It opens up a lot of doors,” she said.
Noting that the scholarship can be deferred for as long as four years, Scholl said she still plans to finish her four-year council term before attending law school.
The scholarship focuses on leadership, and a news release from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation stated, “The Truman Scholarship is the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States.”
Applicants are required to draft a policy proposal as a part of the scholarship process, and Scholl drew from her first five months on the council to come up with her proposal.
“I did my policy proposal on municipal control and state overreach,” she said, noting that she had seen a number of instances in which the State Legislature had proposed bills that would interfere with the rights of cities.
“There’s been a lot of state overreach,” Scholl said, mentioning, for instance, proposed laws that would require loosening up of city restrictions on real-estate signs in the public rights-of-way, as well as on food-truck operation. “In my opinion, the state should have no right” on such matters, she said.
Scholl said she faced a number of questions from the selection panel – especially from former Truman Scholar and current U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow. “He gave me hypotheticals, and he was pushing me a lot on my policy proposal,” Scholl said. “It was intense.”
Ultimately, she was one of 59 scholars chosen from among 756 candidates from 312 colleges and universities.
As a part of the scholarship, the recipients also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, along with leadership training, and special internship opportunities with the federal government, according to the news release.
Since the first awards in 1977, there have been 3,198 Truman Scholars. This year’s recipients will assemble May 22 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and they will receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, on May 27.
“It really is an honor to be a national scholar,” Scholl said.
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