Written by: Karen Templeton
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

University of Alabama at Birmingham student Whitman “Whit” Miller, a junior political science major and member of the UAB Honors College’s University Honors Program, has been awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarshipmartin2

The award is one of the country’s most prestigious national graduate fellowships. It is given annually to college juniors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership potential and academic achievement, and who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education, or other public service. The scholarship provides $30,000 toward graduate education and professional development for young people dedicated to public service.

Miller, from Enterprise, Alabama, is a student in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences Department of Political Science and Public Administration who serves as president of UAB College Democrats. Miller is immersed in local, state and national politics. He is an intern for the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development. He was a paid poll worker in the last Alabama gubernatorial election, and he spent the summer of 2018 canvassing more than 2,000 potential voters in the state with Let America Vote.

“Whit Miller has spent countless hours doing the hard work democracy requires,” said Ashley Kuntz, Ph.D., director of National and International Fellowships and Scholarships at UAB. “We need more engaged citizens like Whit, people who are willing to get out the vote and advocate for policies that make our country stronger. These qualities make him a perfect fit for the Truman Scholarship, and I am thrilled to see his work recognized on the national stage.” 

This year, the Harry S. Truman Foundation received 773 applications from 316 colleges and universities. Students were selected based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement. The Finalist Selection Committee selected 190 finalists from 136 colleges and universities, including two students from UAB. After thorough interviews conducted by the Foundation’s regional review panels they named 62 exceptional college students from 55 U.S. colleges and universities as scholars. Miller is the seventh UAB Truman Scholar and the first-named at the university since 2011.  

“The Truman Scholarship award is highly competitive, and I am so tremendously proud of Whit,” said Suzanne Austin, UAB senior vice provost and senior international officer. “I am grateful to a supportive team in our university’s National and International Fellowships and Scholarships office who help students navigate the awards process. Their dedication helps elevate our students’ high achievement, and records of advocacy and community service have made this type of recognition possible.” 

Miller recently signed on as a student organizer for the re-election campaign for Senator Doug Jones. Miller aims to build a career in the Alabama Democratic Party after his graduate education.

“There is no way for me to fully express just how big an honor this is to me,” Miller said. “I could not have done it without the steadfast support of all the great people who have had my back throughout this process, who took the time to write letters of recommendation, to set up mock interviews, and to simply give me tons of much needed and deeply appreciated advice and encouragement.”

Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the federal memorial to President Harry S. Truman. As opposed to a brick and mortar monument, this living memorial enables students to live out the values of service that characterized the 33rd president’s career. The Truman Foundation supports college students as they explore public service leadership.