’04 Political Science
Truman Scholar 2003
University of Maryland School of Law, J.D.
UMBC Junior from Baltimore City Wins National Public Service Scholarship
April 2, 2003
BALTIMORE, Md. Alicia Wilson, a UMBC Public Affairs Scholar and former valedictorian at Mergenthaler HS (Baltimore), has been awarded the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship, awarded annually to 75 outstanding college juniors who are preparing for careers in government. Wilson is majoring in political science and plans to pursue joint degrees in public interest law and urban policy after completing her studies at UMBC.
The Truman Scholarship, the official federal memorial to America’s 33rd president, is a $30,000 merit-based grant awarded to undergraduate students who need financial support to attend graduate or professional school in preparation for careers in government. The Truman Foundation is particularly interested in students 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.
“Alicia enters each new situation with the expectation that she can do something positive, and she has a wonderful way of relating to others so that the positive becomes more likely,” said Roy Meyers, director of the Public Affairs Scholars Program.
Wilson, a native of Baltimore City and valedictorian of her class at Merganthaler Vocational-Technical High School, draws on her experiences growing up in inner-city Baltimore for inspiration to help others realize their dreams.
“As a resident of the inner city, at many times in my life I have had to beat the odds and expectations that many have for someone with my background. My story is not unlike many coming from an urban environment, but what has made all the difference was the supportive people in my life. My family, friends, and mentors have given me overwhelming support and set me on the course to achieve great things. It is my goal to help others as I have been helped.”
Wilson is engaged in public service efforts both on campus and off. She works as a change leader for Oxfam America, organizing hunger and social justice awareness events at college campuses across the country, from Harvard to Georgia Tech. She is Director of Community Service for UMBC’s NAACP Chapter and a regional conference delegate with the University’s Model United Nations group.
Wilson spends time in the city as a Literacy Tutor with Baltimore City’s Learning Bank Adult Literacy Program and a Peer Counselor with Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD is the city’s labor-faith organization coalition for school and neighborhood improvement). She has held a legal internship with a Maryland Circuit Court judge, and worked for five summers with Baltimore’s Public Justice Center.
“My career goals and aspirations have been greatly shaped by my experiences living in the city of Baltimore,” said Wilson. “As a resident of Baltimore and a student of the public school system, I have been able to witness the difference that an adequate education can make in the life of an individual.”
“The time to perform service is now. It is not contingent upon my social status or background, rather it is contingent upon my willingness to help. Armed with knowledge of the problems and ways to address them, I have been able to understand that it is not impossible for one person or small group to make a difference and that it is not too idealistic to believe that change can happen.”
The Truman Foundation is a federal executive branch agency that administers the Truman Scholarship program. The agency is governed by a board of trustees appointed by the President and Congress, endowed by a $55 million trust fund in the U.S. Treasury, and supported by a staff of six and more than 100 distinguished public servants and former Truman Scholars who participate in the selection process.
The UMBC Public Affairs Scholars Program supports talented undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in government and politics, the non-profit sector, corporations and the community. Students learn about American and world societies, develop a deep understanding of public policy and acquire skills for being effective public leaders. Drawing upon the strengths of UMBC’s faculty and the wealth of opportunities in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, Public Affairs Scholars link theory and practice.