Annie Pfeifer, CC'04, who was recently selected to be a 2003 Truman Scholar, has already made major strides in the field of public service. Having spent the summer between her first and second year working in the office of Missouri Governor Bob Holden, she helped to launch the state's first-ever task force commission on domestic violence. The experience was empowering to say the least.
"It just gave me a chance to see the inner workings of government and how much one person alone can do," she said.
During that summer, Pfeifer coordinated a statewide consolidation of resources and leaders to create more domestic abuse shelters in under-serviced and rural areas. "This really inspired me to continue pursuing public service at the local and national level because I saw that I could really improve people's lives through policy," she added.
Her concerns extended to the global community as well. Last year Pfeifer organized a campus forum on Afghan women, including an international panel discussing issues and struggles the women still face. "I think there's very much a human rights component to domestic violence," Pfeifer said, noting that domestic violence is often perceived as a private problem to be kept within the family. Indeed, amplifying what has historically been hushed as a private matter to the global stage in this day and age is no small feat -- especially in regards to the sensitivities of imposing one's belief structure onto another culture.
"You always want to have tolerance and respect for other cultures and I think it's difficult to reconcile that with a demand for human rights in that you don't want to impose yourself or other values onto a culture that has their own way of doing things. And for a while I was hesitant and asking myself -- what right do I have as an individual to go in and say you should do this or that? I think there is a difference between culture and violent outbursts. I think violence is often a symptom of cultural and economic deprivation that a lot of these countries are undergoing."
In the U.S. political arena, Pfeifer has worked on both Hillary Clinton and Carl McCall's statewide campaigns. For the College Democrats, she organized the Northeast College Democrats Convention on campus. Senator Tom Daschle delivered the keynote address. She also volunteers in inner city domestic violence shelters. Her interest in public policy and law intertwines with her studies -- she is completing a double major in History and English Literature with a concentration in political science.
Congress established the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the official federal memorial to honor President Truman, by recognizing his contributions to the nation, his commitment to public service, and his interest in education. The Foundation awards 75-80 merit-based scholarships each year to college juniors who wish to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in public service. It seeks out "change agents" who aspire to leadership positions in federal, state or local governments or in the not-for-profit and education sectors where they can influence public policies and change public programs. In selecting candidates the foundation looks for: extensive records of public and community service, desire to influence public policies or education programs, outstanding leadership potential and communication skills. Scholars are eligible to receive $3,000 for the senior year of undergraduate education and $27,000 for graduate studies.
Among other recipients of scholarships this year, three Columbia undergraduates are Goldwater winners. Lawrence David, Engineering '05 and CP Davis scholar, majoring in biomedical engineering, intends to pursue a doctorate in molecular biology, genetics, or bioinformatics in order to understand the aging process on the genetic level. Noah Burns, CC '04, majoring in chemistry, intends to pursue a Ph.D. in organic synthesis. Kiril Datchev, CC '05, majoring in physics and mathematics, plans to pursue a doctorate in physics.
The Barry Goldwater scholarship program was created to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering and to foster excellence in those fields. 300 scholarships of up to $7,500 annually are awarded to sophomores and/or juniors.
R.J. Jenkins, CC, 03, and Jonathan Manes, CC, 03, received Kellet fellowships. Jenkins, a native of Florida, and a double major in English and Anthropology, will be studying for a Master of Letters in Victorian fiction in Cambridge. Manes, a Canadian citizen from Vancouver, majoring in philosophy of science and biochemistry, will be studying for a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Oxford.
Columbia College has awarded Eudora Kellett Fellowships since 1932. The Kellett supports two years of graduate study (tuition plus $9,000/year stipend) at Oxford or Cambridge for two College students.
In the first year of the program, Dean Herbert Hawkes emphasized that men (and now women) "whose training and capacity give evidence of ability to benefit by the kind of educational opportunity afforded at Oxford and Cambridge will be appointed. High academic standing is by no means the only credential for a Kellett Fellow." The Fellowship is intended to provide for the holder a novel and broadening experience as well as the knowledge represented by the degree completed.