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Briana Bowen is First Utah State Student Named a Truman Scholar Since 1984

Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013

USU student Briana Bowen, recipient of a 2013 Truman Scholarship

Junior Briana Bowen was named one of 62 Truman Scholars by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. She is a political science major at Utah State University.

Utah State University junior Briana Bowen was one of 62 students named 2013 Truman Scholars by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation Wednesday, April 10.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, president of the foundation, announced the list of exceptional college juniors who will receive $30,000 for graduate study. Bowen, a political science major, is the fourth Truman Scholar in USU history — the university’s only female recipient — and the first winner since 1984.

“This is a great honor for Briana, and I congratulate her for being selected as one the outstanding undergraduate students in the nation who receive this distinction,” said USU President Stan Albrecht. “Briana excels at every measure of academic achievement, and her leadership skills set her apart as someone who will become an important voice in whatever field she chooses to pursue. This award honors individual exceptionalism, of course, but it also is a reflection of the political science program and the mentorship she has received there.”

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created as a living memorial to honor the nation’s 33rd president to find and help support the next generation of public servants and nonprofit leaders. Although President Truman did not have a college degree himself, he valued education and tried to promote young leaders with potential. The scholarships were established through an Act of Congress in 1974 and are intended for students who plan to pursue careers in public service.

The 2013 Truman Scholars were selected from a field of 629 candidates nominated by 293 colleges and universities. Seventeen independent selection panels conferred the awards on the basis of an applicant’s academic and leadership accomplishments and likelihood of becoming public service leaders. In addition to the funding, each new scholar will receive leadership training and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Bowen’s application included a proposal addressing healthcare policy with recommendations to adjust revenue streams for government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

“It’s not uncomplicated,” she admitted.

Healthcare policy analysis is not something many 21-year-olds are eager to study and then travel to Washington, D.C., to attend U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate committee hearings and track legislative developments on the subject. But that is what Bowen did as a public policy intern with the Healthcare Leadership Council in 2011. Her interest in healthcare stems from being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 19.

“I was really fortunate my parents had excellent healthcare,” she said. “But what happens to people who don’t?”

Bowen’s bout with cancer pressed her to want to do more and achieve more to make a difference in the world. She is an Honors student who serves as president of the USU College Democrats. She worked as a regional field director for the Scott Howell for U.S. Senate campaign in 2012, canvasing neighborhoods and knocking on doors in northern Utah, and represented Utah State University at the Democratic National Convention in the fall. Bowen later attended the Untied States Presidential Inauguration as a civilian security captain with the U.S. Secret Service. She believes her work in the public sector is just beginning. Bowen plans to earn a master’s in public policy after graduation.

“It was reinforced to me this award doesn’t really belong to me,” she said. “It’s not about advancing one person’s career. It’s an investment in the future.”

Michael Lyons, associate professor of political science, has worked with Bowen since her first semester at USU when his teaching assistants repeatedly flagged her work as best in the class. After reading her papers he made a point to pull her aside and let her know her work was noticed and appreciated. In his 32-year career at USU, Bowen is one of the brightest students he has had the privilege to work with, he said.

“She is intellectually gifted, self-confident, independent and disciplined — the whole package,” he said. “She’s extraordinarily professional with a very substantial achievement record. She’s not just a grind it out 4.0 A plus student. She’s all over the place.”

However, her willingness to talk to people, and work with people who have differences in opinion, is something Lyons is quick to note.

“It is something I admire and respect about her,” he said. “She’s very good at dealing with people who think differently. She’s respectful. She reaches out.”

He made sure to be present on Monday when President Albrecht called Bowen into his office to notify her she had been selected as a 2013 Truman Scholar.

“First since 1984 — it’s a big deal,” Lyons said.

A listing of the new Scholars can be found at the Truman Foundation’s website.

Related links:

USU Political Science Department

USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Source Utah State University

Contact: Briana Bowen,

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