Baylor Junior Named Truman Scholar

  • News Photo 256
    Skye Perryman, a Baylor junior economics and philosophy major and 2002 Truman Scholar, with Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr.
  • News Photo 254
    Since fall 1999, Truman Scholar Skye Perryman has coordinated Project Democracy at Carver Academy, a debate program funded through the $6 million GEAR UP Waco grant.
March 27, 2002

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Skye L. Perryman, a junior economics and philosophy major at Baylor University, is among 64 students from U.S. colleges and universities named a 2002 Truman Scholar by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

Recipients were chosen from among 590 candidates nominated by 287 colleges and universities. Truman Scholars were selected on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of "making a difference."

Each Truman Scholarship provides $30,000 -- $3,000 for the senior year and $27,000 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. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.

Perryman, who is from Waco, is both a member of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, the university's flagship program for team-taught interdisciplinary courses, and the Honors Program. In addition, she is a member of the Mortar Board honor society and Sigma Iota Rho, an international studies honor society. Following graduation from Baylor, she plans to pursue a law degree and master's in public policy.

"I am committed to the principle that those who are given much are expected to give back more," Perryman said. "I have been blessed with a loving family, material comfort and the opportunity to pursue my dreams. So many people, even in America, live without the ability to achieve their dreams. I am motivated by a conviction to bestow upon others what I have been given. I believe that this is at the core of my responsibility as a citizen of a free society and a member of the human community."

Deeply committed to public service, Perryman coordinates Project Democracy at Carver Academy, a debate program funded through the $6 million GEAR UP Waco grant from the Department of Education that serves at-risk youth in six Waco schools. For her commitment to the project, which has been 20 hours every week since the fall 1999 semester, Perryman received the "Hero for Kids" award and local, state and national commendations. She also co-founded the "Light Up the Night Walk," a major leukemia foundation fundraiser, and has helped organize the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

"Skye is a dynamic leader. Every project I've known her to be involved in has been made better by her presence and her commitment to fostering civil society, " said Elizabeth Vardaman, Baylor's Truman Scholarship representative. "Skye has flourished academically at Baylor, and she believes all students, if given opportunity, can achieve great things. She has volunteered countless hours to help young people in Waco become educated, productive citizens. Skye is a change agent who makes good things happen wherever she goes."

Last year, Perryman worked for the Congressional Democratic Leadership and the Democratic National Committee. Since her freshman year, she has been involved in Baylor's much-honored Model UN team and has won recognition as "Best Delegate" at Harvard's Model UN Conference.

Dr. Karla K. Leeper, The Glenn R. Capp Professor of Forensics and assistant professor of communication studies, knows Perryman well through their work on Project Democracy. In her 15 years of teaching, Leeper said she has never "encountered a young person who exemplifies such excellence" in all aspects of her personal and academic life.

"Whether she is organizing a local walk for breast cancer research because there was not one, or designing a fund raising strategy for the Baylor Model UN team because there was not one, Skye makes things happen," Leeper said. "She is a natural leader: charismatic, organized, enthusiastic and very committed to the issues she believes in. She has a vision for how the world should be, she can communicate that vision to others well and she makes them want to be a part of her efforts."

Dr. Robert M. Baird, chair of the philosophy department, first met Perryman when she was a high school student visiting Baylor.

"She was involved in high school debate and knew that philosophy would serve her well. I remember marveling at her intellectual maturity, even as a junior in high school," Baird said. "When she did come to Baylor, she had a determination to really see and understand the relationship between philosophical ideas and the world of political activity. That Skye is strongly motivated to be of service to others while maintaining such a high level of performance in the classroom indicates a very disciplined person. That, too, shows noteworthy character."

"I owe my Truman scholarship to the many people in my life who have served as a support system to my dreams and goals. Specifically, my wonderful family and the professors in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor," Perryman said. "Mrs. Vardaman guided me through this process, and I also would not have received the Truman scholarship if I had not been given the opportunity by GEAR UP, Waco ISD, Carver Academy and [teacher] Mary Duty to work with children in public schools. Working with 'my kids' at Carver Academy has provided me with inspiration and hope."

Each Truman Scholarship selection panel interviewed finalists from a three- or four-state region and generally elected one Truman Scholar from each state and one or two at-large scholars from the region. Each panel typically included a university president, a federal judge, a distinguished public servant and a past Truman Scholarship winner.

Jerome R. Loughridge, chief of staff to Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., served on the Truman Scholar selection committee for the south central United States. Loughridge received the prestigious Truman Scholarship in 1994 while a University Scholar at Baylor.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the nation's 33rd President. The foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. There have been 2,163 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.

The 2002 Truman Scholars will assemble May 19 for a week-long 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 26.

Perryman said being named a Truman Scholar is a major step toward achieving her dream of becoming a public servant.

"I am extremely excited about getting to meet people my age who dream the same dreams that I do," she said. "Also, I look forward to working with people who have enjoyed long careers in public service; it is through such opportunities that I will find mentors."

For more information, visit the Truman Foundation web site at

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