A West Virginia University senior who wants to work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and help others in need is WVU s 20th Truman Scholar.
Charleston-born John Armour knows something about overcoming adversity. The 27-year-old nontraditional student grew up poor in a rural area of Maine and persevered through difficult younger years. He now calls Morgantown home.
Ive seen the ugly side of what society has to offer, and these days I get to see the incredible goodness that exists in the world,he said.While gratitude is nice, I believe gratitude should be followed by action.
Armours action plan includes earning two degreesa Bachelor of Science in management information systems and a Bachelor of Arts in Englishat WVU , followed by a masters degree in information and telecommunication systems.
He hopes to give back to his community by getting involved in technology and logistics for FEMA specifically, management of the supply chain during disaster situations. He said he would like to use his education and experience to help create innovative solutions and write effective and efficient policy so that a federal government response like the one to Hurricane Katrina never happens again.
Upon entering public service, I would like to address the issue of inadequate response to disasters on a scale that reach the federal level,Armour said.There is no way for us to prevent natural disasters from happening, but we can mitigate the amount of damage caused and minimize the amount of lives lost.
While in New Orleans in 2007, he had the opportunity to speak with many people who had encountered the effects of Hurricane Katrina firsthand. Many of these people were still without housing, said Armour, who vows to do what he can toalleviate injustice and strife and to make a positive difference.
Interim WVU President C. Peter Magrath says he has no doubt Armour will bring about positive change.
Youve accomplished much, and youll accomplish even more,Magrath told Armour when he surprised him with news of the scholarship this week.
WVU officials caught up with Armour before a class Thursday (March 26) in the College of Business and Economics.
John Armour is an extraordinary individual,Magrath told the crowd that gathered for the announcement.
On hand were two past WVU Truman Scholarship winners, interim Chief of Staff Jay Cole and Francesca Nestor, who works with West Virginia Campus Compact, a coalition based at WVU that is dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement and service-learning in higher education.
He can persevere, he can improve his situation in the world, and he can demonstrate that he is super smart,Magrath said.And he is soon to be a graduate of WVU , a land-grant University. Its a tribute to the mission of land-grant universities that we attract young men and women like him who exemplify what WVU is about and what the purpose of real education is about.
Eberly Family Distinguished Professor and Truman adviser Robert DiClerico added:The process is an extremely rigorous oneThe whole purpose behind the Truman Scholarship is to attract bright, able individuals into public service, and John exemplifies those goals.
Lisa DeFrank-Cole, director of WVU s ASPIRE office, which assists talented students as they apply for major scholarships, said she was very proud.
John has overcome exceptional barriers in his lifeas many West Virginia students haveand I think its a real tribute to West Virginia University and to our state to see a student like John be awarded a Truman Scholarship,she said.
Armour is president of WVU s chapter of Habitat for Humanity and has advocated for policies that are friendly to affordable housing by writing to legislators, creating fliers and distributing information at Habitat meetings.
He was also group leader for a spring 2008 Habitat trip to Jacksonville, Fla., where students helped build houses, and during Habitats annualAct! Speak! Build!week, Armour and other members staged asleepoutto promote awareness of substandard housing. Students slept in boxes on AstroTurf behind the Mountainlair. Anothersleepoutevent is planned for Wednesday (April 1) starting at 7 p.m. on theLair green.
The point is to try to see the world through another pair of eyes, to gain some small understanding of what it is to suffer in a way one cannot imagine,he said.As I watch everyone engaged in their own living advocacy, Im grateful to be part of an act with so much potential for lasting change.
Both Armour and his mother, Deanna Hoard, are WVU McNair Scholars. She is set to graduate this summer with a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree. He is on track to finish his undergraduate studies in May 2010.
Armour is the managing editor for WVU s student literary journal, Calliope, and he has held leadership roles in Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, and Students in Free Enterprise, an organization that challenges students to apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects.
He has also been active in the Management Information Systems Association, Mortar Board national senior honorary, Mon County Habitat for Humanity and Club 17.
Armour is one of only 60 students nationwide to receive a prestigious Truman Scholarship for graduate study. The honor is reserved for students with exceptional leadership potential, intellectual ability and the desire to make a difference. Armour was selected from among more than 600 nominees and is the only student from a West Virginia college or university to receive the honor this year.
Im just really grateful and happy to have this opportunity,Armour said,and I think the Truman Scholarship will really open some doors, so I can really make some positive changes in the world.
Armour thanked his faculty and staff mentors for their support and encouragement:The best parts of attending WVU have been the remarkable and caring educators and administrators Ive come into contact with, the unflagging spirit of the students and the fact that its located in Morgantown, W.Va.wild and wonderful.
He added that WVU has given him a great launching pad for a lifetime of service.
WVU has a wonderful public service community,he said.Its through the Center for Civic Engagements support and services and the action and activism by groups such as WVU Habitat for Humanity and APO (Alpha Phi Omega) that afford WVU students the opportunity to enrich their collegiate experience by serving the community. In this fertile environment, I was able to explore different types of service and discover new passions.
In addition to this, being a student in both the College of Business and Economics and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences has given me skill sets that run both broad and deep,Armour said.The education Ive received has given me tools with which I can become a more efficient and effective public servant.
Each Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling and special internship opportunities within the federal government.
Truman Scholars will receive their awards May 31 in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo. For a listing of the 2009 scholars, see www.truman.gov .
In addition to WVU s 20 Truman Scholars, the University has produced 25 Rhodes Scholars, 30 Goldwater Scholars, five members of USA Todays All-USA College Academic First Team, two Udall Scholarship winners, two British Marshall Scholars and one Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholar.