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Junior earns Truman Scholarship for public service

April 16, 2014

Joyce Iwashita ’15 has earned the nation’s top prize for undergraduate leaders, a highly competitive Truman Scholarship. The junior economics major earned one of 59 scholarships awarded this year, an honor which brings up to $30,000 for graduate study and leadership training in preparation for a career in government or the nonprofit sector.

Joyce Iwashita ’15

Major: Economics
Hometown: Hilo, Hawai‘i

What inspired your interest in public service?

I first realized my passion for government and law during my 10th-grade U.S. history class. It was the first time that I was really challenged to think about the values and themes, good and bad, that underlay U.S. history, and I fell in love with the ways that under the U.S. Constitution, laws are enforced, challenged, and refined over generations. I’ve been working toward a career as a lawyer in public service ever since. My classes at Lewis & Clark and positive work experiences in Washington, D.C., have only strengthened my resolve.

How did your Lewis & Clark education help prepare you for this opportunity?

My Lewis & Clark education helped me immensely. My classes have made me a better writer, speaker, and critical thinker—skills I heavily relied on for my application and interview. Lewis & Clark has also forced me to develop strong attention to detail and time management skills, and through opportunities like my study abroad in Siena, Italy, has made me more independent and open minded about other viewpoints, cultures, and opportunities. All together, I think that the skills I’ve learned at Lewis & Clark made me a competitive applicant for this award and will continue to support me in the future. 

Are there any leadership activities or service projects during your time at Lewis & Clark that you’d like to highlight?

During the fall of 2012, I cofounded ElectionWatch—now known as Politics Club—after learning that there was no nonpartisan organization on campus planning any political event around the upcoming election. I had just returned for the fall semester after spending the summer interning in Washington, D.C., and I really wanted to share my passion for civic engagement.

That semester, the club hosted events that featured live streaming of two presidential debates and the news coverage on election night. I loved seeing our Council Chamber fill up with students watching the first presidential debate. Being around all of their excitement and political conversation reminded me of my own excitement and passion for public service.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Truman Scholarship will figure in those plans?

I intend to pursue a joint law degree and security studies master’s degree. I aspire to be a lawyer and eventually work in public policy to address national security issues, including the security threats posed by domestic problems like the United States’ dysfunctional criminal justice system, which—besides its human rights and fiscal issues—is underrated as a public safety threat.

The Truman Scholarship provides financial support for graduate school, so I will use my award to help me pursue my future educational goals. In addition, one of the best features of the Truman Scholarship is that it invites awardees into a network of other Truman Scholars who are just as passionate about public service. I’m excited to meet many more of these potential future colleagues and friends!

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