April 04, 2011 | Cecelia Fielding

Jason Despain, an economics major from Wyoming studying at Brigham Young University, was recently named a 2011 Harry S. Truman Scholarship and will receive $30,000 to further his studies.

Scott Jackson from Virginia and Josephine Borich from Kansas were also nominated by BYU’s Truman Scholarship Committee and were chosen as finalists.

“I am extremely excited to receive the award,” Despain said. “I am humbled to represent BYU and Wyoming as a Truman scholar. I hope that I can fully use this opportunity to ‘go forth and serve’ and reflect on the education that I received at BYU.”

According to Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State and president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, Despain is one of only 60 students from 54 U.S. colleges and universities to have been selected as a 2011 Truman Scholar.

The Truman Foundation seeks scholars with a commitment to public service. Despain exhibited his commitment with a number of service activities, including translating for a Ukrainian orphan in a hospital intensive care unit and coordinating a campus visit for Wyoming high school students. After graduation, Despain plans on pursuing a master’s degree in either international or public policy and hopes to work with trade agreements for the State Department, International Trade Commission or U.S. Trade Representative.

“The BYU Economics Department has taught me the need for accurate analysis of policies in the public sector, and professors Jeremy Pope, Scott Bradford and James Kearl have specifically taught me the need for sound reasoning in international trade policy,” he said. “In fact, the aims of a BYU education essentially prepared me for the Truman scholarship more than anything else.”

Chris Karpowitz, professor of political science and BYU committee chair for the Truman Award who helped coach BYU's applicants, said, “The other members of the BYU Truman Committee and I are thrilled for Jason. He has already shown tremendous promise, and we admire his commitment to public service. This award will open many opportunities for him.”

“Though only Jason ultimately won the award, we are very proud of all three nominees.  All three are outstanding students and leaders,” Karpowitz said. “Given our students' commitment to both learning and service, this scholarship is a great fit for our students in addition to being an ideal springboard to a life of public service.”

The last BYU students to win Truman awards were Ryan Scott Keller and Peter K. Stone in 2004.

The Truman Foundation awards college juniors pursuing careers of public service in government or elsewhere $30,000 for graduate or professional school. Scholars also participate in leadership development programs and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.

Recipients must demonstrate exceptional leadership potential, have an extensive record of public and community service, and be committed to a career in government or elsewhere in public service. A Truman faculty representative must nominate each candidate.

For more information, contact Chris Karpowitz, (801) 422-2788, ckarpowitz@byu.edu, or visit www.truman.gov.

Writer: Mel Gardner