Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, April 2, 2012

U-M students named Truman and Goldwater scholars

U-M juniors Noel Gordon and Tyler Jones aspire to make the world a better place through public service. They are one step closer to becoming “change agents” as the newest Truman Scholars.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation on March 30 announced the names of 54 recipients to receive this prestigious award that gives $30,000 for graduate studies.

Gordon, who is from Henderson, Nev., and Jones, whose hometown is Northville, were selected from 587 candidates nationwide. They are the first U-M students since 2005 to receive the award. In that year, Lyric Chen from Wisconsin won it.

Truman scholars must be interested in being "change agents" by improving the ways that government agencies, nonprofit organizations or educational institutions serve the public.

Gordon is a political science major, and minoring in moral and political philosophy as well as LGBTQ and sexual studies.

  Noel Gordon

“Words cannot express how happy I am to have won a Truman scholarship,” says Gordon, whose political activism began in 2010 when he helped organize a campuswide forum around the topic of teenage suicide in the LGBT community. “I'm incredibly honored to know the Truman Foundation has so much faith in me and my vision for social change.”

He plans to use the scholarship money to pursue a dual JD/MPP degree. He wants to become the legal director of a national public interest law firm, such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights or the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Gordon says his motivation to excel is seeking to change systematic injustices, such as wrongful conviction and over-incarceration of people of color, as well as discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

“It definitely motivates me to be the change I want to see in the world,” he says.

Jones created an honors concentration in asymmetric conflict and Middle Eastern and North African studies. He is interested in diplomacy and the roles of religion, culture and political psychology in transnational negotiations.

  Tyler Jones

“This scholarship represents more than prestige and support,” Jones says. “It represents a charge from society to give back … and affect change.”

After attending graduate school at Georgetown University or Columbia University, he plans to pursue a career in the Foreign Service. Jones wants to foster better dialogue between the United States and Middle East.

Jones says his family inspires him to excel in life and fuels his passion to help those less fortunate than him throughout the world. He also credits David Winter, professor of psychology, LSA, who mentored him while Jones was a junior in high school and continues to serve as his senior thesis adviser.

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. There have been more than 2,800 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.

The 2012 Truman Scholars will assemble May 22 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards May 27 in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo. For a listing of the 2012 Scholars and more information on the foundation, go to

Meanwhile, two students were chosen as Goldwater Scholars based on academic merit, while a third student was named honorable mention. David A. Sherman and Charles H. Stibitz are both majoring in mathematics and physics, and they plan to obtain doctorates in mathematics.

Sherman wants to conduct research in pure and applied analysis and teach at a major university, while Stibitz will conduct research in algebra and geometry and teach mathematics at a university.

Rebecca D. Gleit, who is majoring in mathematical sciences, was chosen as honorable mention. Her career goals are to obtain a medical degree and doctorate in computational biology, as well as conduct research and practice medicine in an academic medical center.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The foundation provides scholarships to students interested in pursuing careers in science, math and engineering.

For a list of Goldwater Scholars, go to