The Ultimate Wing Man
With a Truman Scholarship in hand, Joseph Sklut â€™10 takes flight
Joseph Sklut â€™10 is talking about his recent coup: winning a prestigious Truman Scholarship, one of the nationâ€™s top honors for undergraduates. â€śThis is a real game-changer for me,â€ť he says. A history major with a minor in political science, Sklut is the only Truman recipient from a Massachusetts college this year and only the fourth UMass Amherst student ever to receive the honor.
Sklut, whoâ€™s considering a career with the State Department or the Foreign Service, says the award enhances his ability to gain admittance to some of the top graduate schools: â€śIâ€™m interested in obtaining a masterâ€™s degree in international relations or public policy.â€ť
Competition for the scholarships is intense. This year, 601 students from the top quarter of their class submitted 10-page applications, including a 200-word policy statement on a major social problem. Sklutâ€™s statement proposed expanding the State Department to extend American â€śsoft powerâ€ť around the world.
Sklut was one of 60 scholars selected for the award given by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. It provides each recipient with $30,000 to attend graduate or professional school to prepare for careers in government or public service. Truman Scholars take part in leadership development programs and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government. In return, they commit to five to seven years of public service after graduate school.
â€śI love UMass,â€ť says Sklut. He was confident about the education he would receive, and also found â€śitâ€™s an energetic, fun atmosphere where thereâ€™s always something to do.â€ť Sklut praises the campusâ€™s Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA), which helps students compete for major scholarships. â€śThey worked with me for months and kept me on the path,â€ť he says.
Psychology professor Susan Whitbourne, who directs ONSA, organized a gathering at Commonwealth College to break the good news to Sklut. â€śWhen I wonder who of the coming generations will lead our country with optimism, determination, fairness and dedication to hard work,â€ť she says, â€śI can confidently imagine Joe at the forefront.â€ť