Senior Keith Martinez Named Recipient of Prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship

keith martinez

Last April, current senior Keith Martinez ‘16 CLAS was awarded a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, President of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, announced the names of the 58 Truman Scholars selected from a field of 688 candidates attending U.S. colleges and universities. The Truman Scholarship Foundation recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to making a difference through public service.

Martinez, from the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, is a Communication major in Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He displays a passion for leadership and service to the community both on and off campus. Martinez is a Gates Millennium Scholar, as well as a Presidential Scholar.

“We in the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships are so proud of Keith and all that he has accomplished,” said Jane Morris, Director of the University’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. “The awarding of the Truman Scholarship recognizes the substantive work Keith has done creating opportunities for Native American youth and his commitment to a career as an agent of change improving conditions on reservations.”

In 2014, Martinez was selected by the Youth Service of America (YSA) and the Festival of Children Foundation to serve as a National Child Awareness Month (NCAM) Ambassador for the state of South Dakota. Throughout the year, he represented the state by working to advance the youth programs of Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc. (LCE), a nonprofit that empowers youth from the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation. Martinez currently serves as Chair of the Youth Advisory Board for LCE, working to inspire the youth of the Reservation to complete their education and overcome adversity.  

Upon graduation from Villanova, Martinez plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. He hopes to become a member of the Pine Ridge Reservation tribal council in order to help improve conditions on the reservation, and work at a non-profit organization that focuses on developing educational opportunities for Native Americans. Ultimately, Martinez would like to run for political office so he can affect policy change at a national level.

Each Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at a number of premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class, and be committed to careers in government or the non-profit sector.

The Truman Scholars were chosen by 16 independent selection panels on the basis of their academic and leadership accomplishments and their likelihood of becoming public service leaders. Selection panels met across the U.S. and included distinguished leaders, university presidents, elected officials, federal judges, prominent public servants, and past Truman Scholarship winners.  

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to our thirty-third President. The Foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the Foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the US Treasury. There have been 3,023 Truman Scholars selected since the first awards were made in 1977.

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