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Nutrition and Plan II Student Named Truman Scholar, Gets $30,000 to Attend Graduate School

Marissa Duswalt, a junior nutrition and Plan II honors major at The University of Texas at Austin, has been selected as a 2009 Truman Scholar.

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Marissa Duswalt, a junior nutrition and Plan II honors major at The University of Texas at Austin, has been selected as a 2009 Truman Scholar.

Duswalt, a native of Rosenberg, Texas, was one of 60 Scholars selected from among 601 candidates nominated by 289 colleges and universities. Recipients are United States citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, are in the top quarter of their class and are committed to careers in government or non-profits.

Duswalt, who is one of three Texans honored as a Truman Scholar this year, was recognized by the selection committee for her demonstrated interest and leadership in the fields of childhood nutrition, behavioral and culinary science, and American food culture.

On campus, she leads the Nutrition Peer Education Program, mentors a group of high school girls and chairs a public service curriculum initiative. This summer she’ll be traveling to the Dominican Republic to coordinate a feeding program for malnourished children.

“As a leader, Marissa has been remarkably tenacious, forward thinking and creative,” says Larry Carver, professor of English and director of the Liberal Arts Honors Programs.

“The faculty, students and staff of the Department of Nutritional Sciences are extremely proud of Marissa being named a Truman Scholar,” says Professor Stephen Hursting, chair of the department. “Marissa is an impressive young scientist and a truly remarkable person who has demonstrated excellence in everything she has done at the university.”

Each Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. In return for the funding, Truman Scholars pledge to serve for three to seven years in the public service sector after receiving their graduate degrees.

Duswalt, who will graduate from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010, plans to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a graduate degree in nutrition. She’s particularly interested in investigating ways to remedy the increasing rates of obesity in American children.

“This opportunity opens new doors,” says Duswalt. “I want to pick the right graduate program, and that task demands more research. The difficulty is finding a degree that combines all of the concerns surrounding nutrition, which simultaneously involves cultural, global, economic, scientific and political issues.”

The 2009 Truman Scholars will assemble May 26 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., on May 31.