RICHARDSON, Texas (March 29, 2005) — Twenty-year-old Richardson native Sophie Rutenbar is the first student in the history of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to win a prestigious Truman Scholarship, awarded annually to a select group of college students interested in pursuing a career in public service.
Named after former President Harry S Truman, the highly competitive scholarship is a $30,000 merit-based grant awarded to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the non-profit sector, education or other public service fields. The award provides winners with financial support for graduate study.
Rutenbar, a government and politics major at UTD, was one of 75 Truman Scholars selected nationwide in the 2005 competition out of a total of 602 applicants from 299 institutions. The winners were announced today. She was one of only five scholars selected this year from Texas and was only the third Truman finalist from UTD in the university’s 36-year history.
“I feel incredibly honored to be chosen as a Truman Scholar,” Rutenbar said. “Much of the recognition for this award is due to my professors and the UTD administration, who have given me so many opportunities and helped me through tough moments. I appreciate all of them, particularly Dr. (Edward J.) Harpham, who helped me through the application process.”
“Sophie’s selection as a Truman Scholar is a reflection of her outstanding academic record, intellectual prowess and leadership potential, and is well-deserved,” said Harpham, a professor of government and political economy in UTD’s School of Social Sciences who serves as the university’s faculty representative for the Truman program. “Truman Scholarships are granted to some of the most promising of this nation’s university students — precisely the kind of young men and women we hope to attract in growing numbers to UTD.”
Rutenbar is a 2002 graduate of Richardson High School. She entered UTD that fall as part of The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program — an innovative and highly selective offering that provides a four-year scholarship, along with travel and internship opportunities, to students who demonstrate high intellectual achievement and strong leadership skills and ethics.
Since then, Rutenbar has been involved in a host of activities on the UTD campus, in the Dallas community and beyond. She is an active member of the university’s Collegium V Honors program and has helped in the planning and development of Collegium V activities. She has actively participated in UTD student government and served as student body vice president in 2004. A bassoon player, Rutenbar was a founding member of the UTD student group A Music Interest Organization — called A-Minor for short. She also was an active member and co-founder of the UTD Swim Club, as well as a volunteer at Herbert Marcus Elementary School in the Dallas Independent School District. Rutenbar is fluent in French.
Rutenbar spent the summer of 2004 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she delivered medical supplies to hospitals, clinics and various agencies as part of humanitarian relief efforts there.
Also in 2004, Rutenbar was selected for the Bill Archer Fellowship Program, which enables a select group of outstanding students from University of Texas System schools to earn university credits while working in the nation’s capital. She interned that fall with the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
This spring, Rutenbar is studying at the Universite d’Orleans in Orleans, France.
After graduation, Rutenbar hopes to pursue a Master of Arts degree in international affairs, with a concentration in conflict management and African studies.
The 2005 Truman Scholars will assemble May 15 for a week-long leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, near Harry Truman’s hometown of Independence. Scholars will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence that week.
The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as a living memorial to the nation’s 33 rd president. The activities of the foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U. S. Treasury.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.