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News Release

For immediate use

March 29, 2005 -- No. 138

Local angles: Crofton, Edgewater, Md.;
Mound Bayou, Miss.; Washington, D.C.

Photo: See end of the release to download photos.

UNC’s Lauren McAlee wins
 $30,000 Truman Scholarship

UNC News Services

CHAPEL HILL – Lauren McAlee, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has won the distinguished Truman Scholarship, worth $30,000 for her senior year and graduate studies.

A public policy and philosophy major from Crofton, Md., McAlee was among 75 scholars named today by the Harry Truman Scholarship Foundation. The recipients were chosen from among 602 candidates nominated by 299 colleges and universities nationwide. McAlee brings Carolina’s number of Truman Scholars to 28 since the first awards in 1977.

Truman Scholars must be U.S. citizens, have top leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class and be committed to careers in public service, government, education or the non-profit sector.

McAlee hopes one day to open a charter school in a low-income community, where she said studies show that children lag behind their higher-income peers in reading and math and are far less likely to attend college.

"My goal is to improve education in communities that need it most," she said. She will encourage experiential and service learning and challenge students to think for themselves. "I believe well educated students should find their own fulfilling life paths, develop skills to pursue those paths and identify and act in accordance with their values," she said.

She hopes her efforts will have a positive ripple effect: "There are a lot of huge problems in the world. If you want to address them the best way, education has the potential to get at the root of some of the entrenched problems of society."

With the Truman, she will seek a master’s degree in public policy and education.

"Lauren has a strong dedication to social and economic justice and a proven determination to be an effective change agent," said Dr. Nicholas M. Didow, chair of the UNC Truman Selection Committee. "Her values, passions and actions reflect the ideals of the Truman Scholarship Foundation."

The daughter of Beverly Klimkowsky of Crofton, and Richard McAlee of Washington, D.C., McAlee graduated from South River High School in Edgewater, Md., in 2002.

While in high school, she was a voting student member of the Maryland State Board of Education, a student member of the State Superintendent’s High School Advisory Committee and the legislative affairs coordinator of the Maryland Association of Student Councils, lobbying in the state assembly.

McAlee, whose grade-point-average is 3.936 on a 4.0 scale, is a Robertson Scholar at Carolina, one of a select group of outstanding students awarded full, four-year merit-based scholarships to study at both UNC and Duke University.

The scholarship funds summer service projects -- the first in the southeastern United States; the second, abroad. McAlee’s first two projects were in Mound Bayou, Miss., and in India, where she led conversational English classes.

In Mound Bayou, a small, predominantly African-American town, she established a summer enrichment program for underserved girls. Through six weeks of activities involving art, Delta culture and self awareness, McAlee attempted to infuse fun activities with lasting messages.

This semester she is back in Mound Bayou, creating an after-school enrichment program for underprivileged high school students. Her efforts are funded by a Burch Fellowship, awarded through UNC to undergraduates for self-created off-campus learning experiences.

"From Mississippi to India, Lauren has immersed herself in the educational needs of disadvantaged children," said Dr. George Lensing, director of the UNC Office of Distinguished Scholarships. "She believes passionately that one person can bring about meaningful change. A superb student and innovator, she is already marked as an educational leader in this country for the 21st century."

At Carolina, McAlee is on the UNC Honors Program Student Executive Board. She has worked with a Campus Y tutoring program for elementary and middle school students in subsidized housing. McAlee also helped organize a mentoring and college preparation program for minority students.

She co-founded a workshop series within the Durham Scholars Program, a UNC tutoring and enrichment program for grade-school children in disadvantaged Durham neighborhoods. The interactive workshops covered topics including sign language, Latin dance, philosophy and improvisational comedy.

Congress created the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the official federal memorial to the nation’s 33rd president. The first awards were given in 1977. Scholars receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at top graduate universities, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling and internship opportunities.

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Photo URLs: McAlee:

Contacts: Lauren McAlee,; Dr. Nicholas Didow, 919-962-3189,; Dr. George Lensing, 919-962-4053,

News Services contact: L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589