|Matthew Garza receives Truman Scholarship|
|Friday, March 27, 2009|
Matthew Joseph Garza, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been awarded the distinguished Truman Scholarship, worth up to $30,000 in support for graduate studies toward a public service-related degree.
Garza, 23, the son of Crisoforo and Gale Garza of Stockton, Calif., plans to use the award to pursue a master’s degree in public administration and international development, possibly from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
An economics major and Morehead-Cain Scholar in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, Garza hopes ultimately to help organizations providing aid to developing countries, bringing greater transparency and efficiency to the foreign aid process.
Garza was one of 60 students from 55 U.S. colleges and universities to receive a 2009 Truman award. He was chosen from among 601 candidates nominated by 289 colleges and universities.
Congress created the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the official federal memorial to the nation’s 33rd president. The foundation seeks to find and recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in public service.
Besides funding, scholars receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling and internship opportunities in the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills and be in the top quarter of their class.
Garza came to Carolina in 2005 on a Morehead-Cain Scholarship, given for character, leadership, academic excellence and physical vigor. The Morehead-Cain pays all expenses for four years of undergraduate study, including the cost of a laptop computer, four summer enrichment experiences and funding for educational and experiential opportunities during the academic year.
Of 31 Truman Scholars from UNC since the program began in 1977, 18 have been Morehead-Cain Scholars.
“We are convinced that Matt’s interest in alleviating world poverty – and his particular focus upon the public and private delivery systems of aid and ways in which they are sometimes overlapping and inefficient – singles him out for a unique contribution as his career unfolds,” said English professor George Lensing, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “In many ways he has already made himself a minor expert in this field.”
Garza graduated in 2004 from Phillips Academy Andover in Andover, Mass. He deferred the start of his Morehead-Cain Scholarship and admission to Carolina to undertake a gap year for service and travel. That summer, he worked in Oaxaca, Mexico, promoting consumption of a local plant in attempt to reduce malnutrition and birth defects. The following summer, Garza supervised a public health project in Paraguay dealing with sanitation and nutrition.
Between those summers, he waited tables and sold computers to fund travel around the Pacific Rim. He then visited New Zealand, Australia and China and went mountain-climbing in Patagonia, the southern tip of South America. The latter trip, led by the National Outdoor Leadership School, fulfilled the specifications of his first Morehead-Cain enrichment experience, which sends scholars to an outdoor leadership course the summer before their freshman year at UNC.
Garza, who speaks Spanish and Arabic, has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s highest honor society for college students. He is on track to graduate from Carolina next December. Currently he is on the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor and is a teaching assistant in a colloquial Egyptian Arabic course.
Garza is executive director of Students for Students International, a nonprofit organization based at UNC that provides educational scholarships for young women in Tanzania. The group has invested more than $70,000 in its scholars’ education since July 2005.
In 2007, Garza withdrew from Carolina temporarily and spent six months in Cairo studying Arabic. During that time, UNC sociology professor Charles Kurzman, Ph.D., hired Garza to interview Egyptian youth, conducting research that will be included in Kurzman’s forthcoming book.
After graduate school, Garza will seek to work with the U.S. development group Millennium Challenge Corp., and eventually for the World Bank. His goal will be to help aid agencies communicate and coordinate their efforts; reduce redundant investments; streamline administrative work; make the agencies more transparent; and standardize accounting and reporting procedures by recipient countries.
With Millennium Challenge Corp. he would study the giving process: “The idea is to understand what works and what doesn’t when aid money enters the bureaucracy of a developing country,” he said. “It is essential that both donors and recipient countries be transparent and accountable with this money. Only then can it effectively reach the people who need it most.”
Truman Foundation Web site: http://www.truman.gov/
Morehead-Cain Foundation Web site: http://www.moreheadcain.org/
News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589