For the first time in university history, an ACU student has been named a Truman scholar.
Brittany Partridge, junior political science major from Annandale, Minn., found out officially she’d been selected as a recipient of the federal scholarship on March 27 when Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, came into one of her classes to congratulate her. A video crew documented the announcement and showed the video in Chapel on Monday to publicly recognize Partridge.
“They just asked me if I’d be at Chapel on Monday because they’d be recognizing me,” Partridge said. “I didn’t even know I’d be on stage.”
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation offers $30,000 scholarships toward graduate education to U.S. college juniors for leadership potential and a passion to work in public service.
587 students from 272 college and universities applied for the scholarship by the Feb. 7 deadline. The Finalist Selection Committee reviewed the applications in mid-February and selected 191 finalists from 123 colleges and universities as finalists. All the finalists interviewed in March during the foundation’s Regional Review Panels. 54 finalists were selected as Truman scholars.
Partridge said her interest in public service, specifically human trafficking, began in high school and grew stronger in college.
“I had a passion for helping with human trafficking in high school,” she said. “It’s shaped a lot of experiences in college, like the Red Thread Movement, which helped with the application.”
Partridge co-founded the Red Thread Movement in her freshman year, a non-profit organization that works to generate awareness of human trafficking, forced labor and sexual slavery and to raise financial support to end those issues.
“Red Thread has given me so many opportunities to do many things for the issues of human trafficking,” she said. “The Truman foundation is looking for not just what you’re saying to raise awareness but what are you doing about an issue.”
Schubert said he was proud of Partridge’s accomplishment and the way her example reflects on the university.
“Brittany is an amazing young woman and she embodies, in so many respects, what this university stands for,” Schubert said. “We celebrate with her and we rejoice in the impact she’s having with people on the other side of the world who didn’t have anyone to champion on their behalf.”
Brittany’s father, Joel Partidge, came from Annandale to Abilene Monday to surprise Brittany for the Chapel announcement. He said he was thrilled but not really surprised she was selected as a scholarship recipient.
“You can never count her out until it’s been given to someone else,” Joel said. “She received a national scholarship in high school from Coca-Cola that was really competitive, so I know she’s capable of anything. It was really rewarding and exciting that she did get this scholarship because I know how much work she put into it.”
Dr. Neal Coates, chair of the Department of Political Science, said Brittany is deserving of the scholarship.
“She’s a great student, very engaging in class and very involved in activities on campus, especially with Red Thread,” Coates said. “The Truman scholarship is for those out to change the world for the better and Brittany started an effort to fight trafficking and change lives.”
Brittany said the scholarship application helped her plan her future.
“In the application process for the Truman you kind of have to write out your life plan,” Partridge said. “You have to say where you want to apply for grad school and where you see yourself in five and 10 years. Nothing’s official yet, but ideally I want to apply to Georgetown’s law program and afterward work for the then work for the Department of Justice or Department of State on the issue of human trafficking.”
Brittany will graduate in May 2013 with a degree in political science and minors in history and public service. Joel said Brittany and her family has been blessed since she began working toward her goals in public service.
“It’s an answer to prayer and we give God the glory for giving her this opportunity and opening this door,” Joel said. “It’s mind boggling how well she’s done.”