A West Virginia University student whose interests range from writing to mountain dancing to cleaning up the states polluted streams was named today (March 23) as a 2001 Truman Scholarone of only 70 nationwide.
Michael Ryan Wood of Cool Ridge, RaleighCounty, is the 15th student from the University to earn the prestigious award, ranking WVU eighth nationally among public universities in the number of students who have received the scholarship. Students are selected based on leadership potential, intellect and a commitment to careers in government or public service.
Wood, a double major in political science and business administration, said he was overwhelmed with the newsespecially the way he learned about it.
“President Hardesty came to my political science class on the presidency and announced it,”Wood says,”and believe me, I was not expecting it. I still dont think the magnitude of the award has sunk in. Im completely humbled by it.”
The 21-year-old city editor of The Daily Athenaeum attends WVU on a Foundation Scholarship, the Universitys elite four-year award for West Virginias top students. He maintains a 3.8 grade-point average.
“I remember meeting Mike as a high school senior and thinking this young man is going places,”says WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr.”Well, he certainly hasfrom editing and helping run a student newspaper to working on environmental issues. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has taken notice of a person who shows great promise as a future leader and public servant.”
Professor of Political Science Robert DiClerico, mentor to WVU s Truman candidates, called Wood”a bright and multi-dimensional young man whose interests range from environmental policy to journalism to visiting schools around the state and teaching children how to clog.”
He adds,”His active involvement in the life of his campus and community is emblematic of what the Truman Scholar Foundation is searching for in these scholars.”
Wood says he will use the scholarship, valued at more than $30,000, to pursue a degree in law, as well as a masters degree in public policy, focusing on natural resources and the environment.
An admitted”compassionate conservative,”the WVU junior says he has always believed government has a role to play in improving peoples lives, but that government should be”an empowering tool.”
Because he hails from southern West Virginia, Wood says he has seen the devastation caused by past mining practices that went unregulated.”The people who live in Appalachia deserve a cleaner environment, and if the government can provide the resources for our citizens to engage in locally driven clean-up efforts, the results are remarkable.”
He hopes to work for the U.S. Departments of Interior or Agriculture, which address environmental issues such as acid mine drainage and restoring polluted waters. He also plans to run for public office someday.
“In particular, I would like to work in an area where I could develop policies that will engage local citizens in restoring the environments of their communities,”says the ShadySpringHigh School graduate.
He got a taste of that last summer as an intern for the U.S. Office of Surface Mining in Washington , D.C., where he worked on acid mine drainage policies. During this experience, Wood helped monitor 22 interns in eight states and was able to travel to impoverished communities throughout Appalachia to work with citizens engaged in addressing water quality issues.
He is currently researching and writing a book on innovative non-profit watershed groups in the 13 Appalachian Clean Stream States for the Canaan Valley Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency. The book is intended for congressional staff and non-profit watershed leaders throughout the eastern United States.
His interest in clogging developed as a youngster when his grandparents, Lou and Jessie Maiuri of Summersville, introduced him to Appalachian mountain dancing and music. Since then, he has hosted workshops and demonstrations for hundreds of schoolchildren, with the hope of passing on this West Virginia art form and heritage to future generations.
Wood is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Golden Key National Honor Society, the WVU Honors Program, Alpha Kappa Psi national business fraternity and his local church, St. John University Parish.
He is the son of Robert and Mary Wood of Cool Ridge, and has three brothers: John, Justin and Chad, all of RaleighCounty.
According to Louis Blair, executive secretary to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, Wood was the only student from a West Virginia college or university to earn one of the national scholarships, Jina Moore of BostonUniversity was also selected from the state of West Virginia.
There were 591 applicants from 301 institutions; the 70 students selected represent 51 colleges and universities.
“This selection is a tribute not only to your new scholar but to the values of your institution and to the splendid caring work by your Truman faculty representative Bob DiClerico,”Blair says.
The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the nations 33rd president. The first scholarships were awarded in 1977. Because of WVU s tradition of Truman winners, the University was named one of the 17 inaugural Truman Scholar Honor Institutions in 1996. There are now a total of 37.