This spring, third-year New College student and Sarasota native Michael Long, 21, was one of only 62 people nationally (and the only one in Florida) to receive the prestigious Truman Scholarship, which offers $30,000 in graduate school funding to undergrads planning careers in public service. Past recipients include Janet Napolitano and George Stephanopoulos. How does one win a Truman Scholarship? Read on.
Build an impressive resume. Long was elected co-president of the New College student government as a freshman. At 19, he became the youngest person elected to chair the Florida Student Association and the youngest person appointed to the Florida Board of Governors. He traveled to Moscow as a Kremlin Fellow and to South Korea courtesy of the Council on International Education Exchange.
Start early. Long began writing the 10 required essays six months before their due date. “I probably had 10 or 15 copies of each essay,” he says. “Not rewrites, but completely different essays.”
Learn from your history. Though he’d planned on studying marine biology, Long began thinking about his experiences in the juvenile justice system as a teenager. “I got involved in all kinds of stupid things,” he says. The scholarship application led him to refocus. “I decided I wanted to give back to the people who helped shape my life.”
Set specific goals. Long hopes to work with the federal Office of Juvenile Justice, “which would allow me to work with multiple states, taking effective policies that, say, Washington State em-ploys and bringing them down to Georgia,” he says.
Have a sense of humor. Long’s final interview with the scholarship committee was scheduled for April Fool’s Day. “Everybody else was stressing,” he remembers. “I figured, they’re going to pick who they’re going to pick. I just went in and started telling jokes and laughing. I had fun.”