Elise Omaits, a member of the class of 2012 at Agnes Scott College, was named a finalist for the 2011 Truman Scholarship.
This year, there were 602 applications from 264 colleges and universities. Established as a “living memorial” to this country’s 33rd president, the Truman Scholarship recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in public service. It provides up to $30,000 for graduate study and brings students together for leadership training and fellowship with others who are committed to making a difference through public service.
Omaits plans to major in economics at Agnes Scott and go on to get her Ph.D. in public policy, with a focus on education.
She grew up in Oakland County, a suburb of Detroit, and watched with regret as many around her failed to finish high school.
“We started with 300 to 400 students in my high school class but by the time we graduated, my class was down to around 150,” Omaits said.
Many of those students fell behind much earlier in school, she said. And at her high school, Omaits noticed a deep divide between the Advanced Placement courses she was taking and the type of education many of those at her school received in non-advanced classes.
“That’s just not fair,” Omaits said. “That’s why I started working with literacy. I asked myself, what do I want to achieve? Do I want parents to read to their kids more to break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty?” Omaits said.
After college, she hopes to work in education policy to tackle illiteracy internationally.
Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location – offering myriad cultural and experiential learning opportunities. A diverse and growing residential community of scholars, this highly selective liberal arts and sciences college is known for its dynamic and challenging intellectual community. Encouraging students to engage the wider world through study abroad and presenting its curriculum with international context, Agnes Scott College delivers on its promise: The World. For Women.