Whelan ‘07.5 wins Truman Scholarship

By
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Caitie Whelan ‘07.5 was named a 2007 Truman Scholar March 27. Recipients of the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship are expected to pursue a career in government or other areas of public service.

President Ruth Simmons called Whelan on the Friday before spring break to tell her the good news. “I was reduced to shock-induced grunts,” Whelan said. “It’s only within the past 48 hours that I’ve been able to resume using multi-syllabic words.”

“The significance of it hasn’t sunken in at all,” she added.

Whelan said she almost didn’t apply for the scholarship. “It never occurred to me that I could get it,” she said.

An anthropology concentrator, Whelan currently plans to pursue a doctorate in anthropology with a focus on international educational development and reform. She has worked with and studied Merasi musicians – a group of people that lives in Rajasthan, India. The Merasi are at the bottom of the local caste system. Whelan archived Merasi music in the summer of 2006 as a 2006-2007 Royce Fellow.

“It was the experience of applying for the Royce and then getting it that gave me the confidence to actually even consider the Truman Scholarship,” Whelan said.

This year, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation selected 65 Truman Scholars from 56 colleges and universities. Truman Scholars receive $30,000 for graduate study, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling.

The scholarship is awarded to juniors based on three criteria: “leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of ‘making a difference,’ ” according to the foundation’s Web site.