Making History

New College of Florida student Michael Long is one of 62 students nationwide to receive a 2013 Truman Scholarship, a prestigious award given to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential and who are committed to a career in public service.

Long is the second New College student to receive a Truman Scholarship, and the only Florida student to receive the scholarship this year. New College alumnus Eric Schickler was awarded a Truman Scholarship in 1989.

Truman scholars have gone on to prominent positions in government, nonprofits, academia and journalism. Past recipients include John Kroger, president of Reed College; Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and George Stephanopolous, former White House advisor and ABC news anchor.

Dr. Donal O’Shea, president of New College, said Long shows many of the traits of those public servants.

“Michael epitomizes the tradition of New College students not only learning but using that knowledge to act with conviction and improve the world we live in,” O’Shea said. “Truman Scholarships are among the most respected and coveted national awards.  We’re thrilled for Michael, and absolutely delighted that the Truman Foundation has selected him for this fellowship that will allow him to build on his interest and strong record of public service.”

The Truman Foundation was established by law in 1975 to honor President Harry S. Truman. Scholars are selected after a rigorous application and interview process. They are chosen on for their academic achievement and likelihood of becoming leaders in public service. Each scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study, and priority admission and supplemental financial aid at certain graduate institutions. They also receive leadership training, career and graduate school counseling and a 10-week internship in Washington, D.C.

The award is the latest in a series of achievements for the Sarasota native.

In 2010, he was elected as a freshman to the first of two terms as co-president of the New College student government. And in June 2011, at age 19, he became the youngest person elected to chair the Florida Student Association and the youngest person to serve on the Florida Board of Governors, which directs the State University System.

In 2012, he was named a Kremlin Fellow, one of 15 college student leaders nationwide selected by the Russian Federation’s Federal Agency on Youth Affairs to travel to Russia and meet officials, business leaders and students. In spring 2013, he studied at Yonsei University in South Korea as one of 40 U.S. college students chosen by the Council on International Education Exchange.

Long also serves on the advisory group to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, a way of giving back. After an arrest for minor offenses in high school, he completed a program that rehabilitates juvenile offenders. Long, an avid sailor and captain of the New College Sailing Team, also recently founded SailFuture, a nonprofit group that teaches juvenile offenders how to sail and pairs them with community mentors.

His sailing hobby had him planning to study marine biology, but his experiences have led him to change course. “I came in thinking I would go into natural sciences, but I realize my strength is in working with people,” he said. “I realized when I was smiling the most wasn’t when I was in the biology lab, it was when I was out working with people.”

He credits New College for developing his critical thinking skills, and the ability to communicate and work with people. It starts, he said, with the way that students have intense conversations with advisors about their coursework and academic plans. It continued in student government work with the College’s board of trustees and with the Board of Governors.

“New College taught me to listen when people say no, but not to let a bump in the road stop you from getting to where you want to go,” he said.

Long decided to apply for the award after talks with New College staff and advisors, and with a 2010 Truman Scholar he met during the Kremlin Fellows program. The friend encouraged him to apply, if for no other reason than as a self-awareness exercise.

“Prior to a year ago, I had no concept of graduate school,” Long said. “The Truman forced me to start thinking about graduate school. The rigor of the application process forces you to think about yourself and your future.”

After graduating from New College, he plans to attend a graduate school program in public policy with a focus on criminal justice and juvenile justice.

To learn more about Michael Long, read the 2012 New College Magazine story:
“Charting His Own Course: Student Michael Long Makes History … and Waves.”

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