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Jennifer HeidtJennifer Heidt

Heidt and Meyer Selected for Truman Scholarships

Willamette University Juniors Jennifer Heidt, a politics and sociology major from Boise, Idaho, and Lesley Meyer, a politics major from Missoula, Mont., have been selected as 2004 Truman Scholars. The Truman Scholarship is a $26,000 merit-based federal grant awarded to college juniors to attend graduate or professional school in preparation for careers in government, the non-profit sector or elsewhere in public service.

Truman Scholars are selected on the basis of their community service and demonstrated leadership, academic record and commitment to a career in public service. Meyer and Heidt were selected from among 221 finalists from 146 U.S. colleges and universities who interviewed for approximately 80 Truman Scholarships. Only seven other institutions have more than one Truman Scholar this year. In the last five years, eight Willamette students have been awarded Truman Scholarships.

"Truman Scholars are future change agents, who have the passion, intellect and leadership potential to change the way public entities - from government to nonprofits, schools and advocacy groups - serve the public good," says Willamette University President Lee Pelton.

The students are co-directors of Students for Choice and both have been active in SHE, an advocacy group that helps bring awareness to issues like rape, domestic violence and eating disorders.

Since her freshman year, Jenn Heidt has been a member of Implementation Squad, which is guiding Willamette's transition to a residential commons system that will incorporate living and learning on campus. She's on the Outreach and Publicity Committee and is chair of the new student-run judicial board.

Heidt has organized educational programs on reproductive health and serves on Bishop Wellness Center's Health and Counseling Services Advisory Board. She's an Opening Days leader and World Views tutor and helped coordinate the 2003 Operation Dream program.

"My father died on December 27 of this last year," Heidt says. "Going through the final stages of the Truman application process without him was difficult. My father was so proud of me for the work I'd put into the application. The support of my mother and stepfather and incredible friends has kept me going. As much as this scholarship is for myself, I have also achieved this in honor of my phenomenal family."

Heidt has interned with First Lady Patricia Kempthorne in the Idaho Governor's Office, with the Chicago Rehab Network and at the YMCA Outreach Shelter in Salem, Ore. She intends to earn degrees in law and public policy to address issues of healthcare, affordable housing and equal education. She is a G. Herbert Smith Scholar and, in 2003, was awarded a Mary Stuart Rogers Scholarship in recognition of her demonstrated integrity, leadership and compassion for others.

Heidt says the Truman Scholarship will provide the financial support that will allow her to pursue graduate school without concern about accruing a great deal of debt. "In addition, I'll be able to get to know past Truman Scholars who are incredible change agents and who share my passion for people and my dedication to public service."

Lesley Meyer, who is currently studying in Linkoping, Sweden, intends to earn graduate degrees in law and public health, focusing on reproductive rights and reproductive health. She flew from Sweden to Denver in March for her Truman interview. "I am in awe about receiving this wonderful honor," she says. "The application process is just the beginning. In May, all scholars will go to Liberty, Mo. for Truman Scholar Leadership Week where we'll meet past scholars and learn about future opportunities."

Meyer is an ASWU senator and member of the Finance Board and has been president of College Democrats and a Resident Assistant. She volunteers for Oregon NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Choice USA and the Feminist Majority Foundation. She is also a member of the Willamette University Chamber Choir and Master Chorus.

Meyer has interned with the Oregon Department of Education and with Montana Senator Max Baucus. She was awarded a Willamette University Vocal Scholarship and was a finalist for the Coca-Cola Scholarship. She says the Truman Scholarship will enable her to pursue a joint degree at a graduate school of her choosing. "Without this scholarship, it would be hard to really follow my heart and help the underprivileged while still managing to pay the debt I'd incur."