Political science major Zahava Urecki ’16 recently won the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive federal scholarship granted to U.S. college juniors for demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to public service. The scholarship is in the amount of $30,000 toward a graduate education. Congress created the scholarship in 1975 as a living memorial to the 33rd president of the United States.
Zahava heard about the Truman Scholarship from Professor Rosti, who is the Director of Major Scholarships and Fellowships here at RC. Professor Rosti encouraged her to apply and helped her through the application process.
“It was very difficult,” Zahava said. There was a written essay portion that really pushed her to show who she is and what she cares about. Once she made it past that round, she have an interview. “I worked with Dr. Rosti, Dr. Peppers, Dean Smith, and Dr. Parsons and had some mock interviews before the actual interview,” she said. The interview was an extremely nerve-racking experience because she had no idea what kinds of questions she would be asked.
She found out that she had won the scholarship less than a week after the final interview. She received an email requesting that she meet with President Maxey in his office. She assumed it was to congratulate her for making it this far in the process because she did not think she had won the scholarship. “I met with President Maxey and during our meeting there was a knock on the door and Dr. Rosti, Dr. Peppers and Dean Smith came into president Maxey’s office with balloons that said ‘way to go’….Then President Maxey told me I was a Truman Scholar.” she said. She was in total disbelief.
Zahava learned a lot about herself from this experience. This application process gave her the confidence to reach for her goals. One of the best things she realized was how supportive the Roanoke College community really is. Dr. Rosti, Dr. Peppers, Dr. Parsons, and Dean Smith helped her throughout the entire process and believed in her when she didn’t even believe in herself. “I am so grateful to the RC community….While the Truman Scholarship is an incredible honor to receive, choosing Roanoke College, where I am surrounded by people who truly care and push you to be the best you can, is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me,” Zahava said.
Zahava hopes to obtain a master’s degree in legislative affairs or public policy. She wants to pursue these degrees in order to help to craft meaningful legislation that will help her home state of West Virginia. Specifically, she wants to find a solution for coal miners who are losing their jobs as a result of mine closures.
Zahava is well deserving of this scholarship. If you see her around campus, make sure to congratulate her on this fantastic achievement!