Elon junior selected as finalist for Truman scholarship

Political science & public administration major Kristine Elizabeth Silvestri has been named a finalist for a 2009 Truman Scholarship, a prestigious national fellowship for graduate study awarded annually “to persons who demonstrate outstanding potential for and who plan to pursue a career in public service.”

Kristine Silvestri

Silvestri, 20, of Flemington, N.J., was notified over the weekend of her selection. She learns next month whether she wins a $20,000 award.

The 176 finalists were announced Feb. 17 by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, which was established by Congress in 1975 as a memorial to the 33rd president. If selected, Silvestri would become the second Elon student in as many years to win the scholarship. The finalists represent 127 institutions.

“Receiving the Truman Scholarship would exceed my wildest dreams,” Silvestri said. “Previous Truman Scholars have become some of the most influential people in politics and social progress. I am honored to even be considered for this award.”

Silvestri plans to enroll in a master’s program for international affairs after graduating from Elon. She has focused her research on African refugees, race relations, and other marginalized groups. As one of 15 students selected to receive an inaugural Lumen Prize last spring, Silvestri is pursuing a two-year research project that examines these issues in both international and domestic contexts.

Her list of accomplishments is lengthy. Silvestri is involved in several academic honor societies, including Phi Kappa Phi, ODK and the Pi Sigma Alpha political science organization. She is a Leadership Fellow and Periclean Scholar and has co-authored publications in national academic journals.

Silvestri founded the Elon Green Service Team, which works with local government agencies to better water quality and improve health and local ecosystems. She also led a 2007 Spring Break service trip to assist with Hurricane Katrina Relief in Mississippi and New Orleans – all as a freshman.

And she currently volunteers at Crossroads, a women’s rape crisis and domestic abuse center that helps victims through the legal and medical process in Alamance County.

“Although Elon University is nationally recognized for its community service and academic service learning initiatives and we have many engaged students, Kristine’s efforts … still mark her as an exceptional leader and public servant within our student population,” Janet Myers, an associate professor of English and coordinator of national and international fellowships, wrote in a nominating letter for the scholarship. “I have found her dedication and drive both amazing and inspiring, and I think they speak to her capacity to continue to be a change agent throughout her life.”

Current senior Breanna Detwiler was named a Truman Scholar in 2008, making her the first student in Elon University history to receive the award. She and current senior Victoria Davis were named finalists last year.

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