Agnes Scott College Junior Selected 2009 Truman Scholar

Tue, 04/07/2009 - 2:35pm
By: The Citizen

Recognizing her leadership in social change and commitment to social justice, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has named Megan “Meg” Beyer, Agnes Scott College class of 2010, a 2009 Truman Scholar.
The scholars were elected by 17 independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of “making a difference.”
Beyer is one of 60 college juniors selected from 601 candidates from colleges and universities nationwide. She is the only Georgia resident attending school in the state to be named a 2009 Truman Scholar, and Agnes Scott is the only Georgia college to have a Truman Scholar this year.
Beyer learned of her award when Agnes Scott President Elizabeth Kiss and Director of Experiential Learning Isa Williams interrupted the student body president in her regular meeting with the dean of students to surprise her with the news of her selection.
“I immediately thought that it was going to change a lot for me,” said Beyer. “And that I needed to call my parents because they’d flip out.”
Beyer is the daughter of Julie and Matthew Beyer of Peachtree City, Ga., and a 2006 graduate of Starr’s Mill High School in Fayetteville, Ga.
On a more serious note, Beyer said the award meant validation. “It means the work I’ve done hasn’t gone unnoticed -- a great feeling. It also serves as a reminder of all the people who helped me get here and how much I owe them.”         
“I was thrilled to hear about Meg’s selection,” Kiss said. “As a big fan of her’s, I am so pleased that the Truman Search Committee agreed with all of us at Agnes Scott that Meg is a remarkable young woman.”
Recommendations from members of the college administration emphasized Beyer’s passion for engaging leadership for social justice and her commitment to address inequality and systems of oppression in order to effect social change.
“Meg is an empathetic leader,” said Williams, who assisted Beyer in the application process. “Her ability to bring diverse views to the table and to empathize while maintaining an objective stance in light of her own values will serve her well in leadership for public service.”
Established as a “living memorial” to this country’s 33rd president, the Truman Scholarship finds and 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.
“From the moment I learned what ‘privilege’ meant in my first women’s studies course,” said Beyer, “I knew I wanted to use mine to the advantage of people without it.
“One of society’s most potent underlying problems is an institutionalized denial of access to information that would empower disenfranchised groups to empower themselves. It was also in one of my women’s studies courses that I realized I shouldn’t feel guilty for loving higher learning as long as I fight for greater access to it.”
After graduation, Beyer, a sociology/anthropology and women’s studies major, plans to earn a law degree with an emphasis in human and civil rights law.
As a Truman Scholar, she will attend the 2010 Washington Summer Institute. “I would love to spend a summer examining the minute details of our system of bureaucracy in order to better understand the individual role I can play in the system,” she said. “Ideally, I would work for the State Department, the Department Of Justice or a progressive Senator or member of Congress such as Dick Durbin or Tammy Baldwin. In such a role, I would focus on studying the government’s willingness to grant or forego rights.
“I would also be interested in working as an associate paralegal for organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Legal Momentum or Lambda Legal in order to get my feet wet in the field of impact legislation.”
Beyer has amassed an impressive list of public service accomplishments during her time at Agnes Scott.  She is one of 10 students nationwide and the only one from Agnes Scott selected to serve on the 2008-2009 American Association of University Women’s Student Advisory Council and was a 2007 summer intern for the National Organization for Women. 
She founded Campus Abolition Coalition, an organization to stop sex trafficking, and in 2007 was a team recipient of a $10,000 Kathryn Wasserman Davis “100 Projects for Peace” grant to organize a Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness Teach-In and Community Art Project.  She also volunteers with Atlanta-area Homeless Services and has been active in LGBTQ civil rights issues and Safe Zones Program advising at Atlanta-area universities.
On campus, Beyer serves as president of the Agnes Scott College Student Government Association and serves on the Transgender Policy Group and a subcommittee of the college’s Sustainability Steering Committee. She has just completed terms of service on the Programming Board and the Women’s Studies Advisory Council,  is the former chair of the Inter-Organizational Council and was president of her class for the past three years. She is an Agnes Scott Founders Scholar and a 2007 and 2008 Dana Scholar.
Next summer, Beyer will be in Washington, D.C., working as a public policy fellow for the American Association of University Women, an advocacy organization focused on this lobbying and government relations.
Selected this year’s Agnes Scott Truman Scholar, Beyer joins three alumnae previously selected for the honor: W. Burlette Carter in 1980; Karla N. Vaughn in 1984 and Joy Howard in 1989.  
How will being a Truman Scholar change Beyer’s life? “The money for law school will help, but mostly it opens a lot of doors and links me into a group of really amazing people,” said Beyer. “But the coolest thing is probably having one degree of separation from George Stephanopoulos (a 1981 Truman Scholar).”

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