Two Stanford students chosen as 2013 Truman Scholars

Jessica Laurel Anderson and Meredith Lukens Wheeler each will receive up to $30,000 for graduate school to help them prepare for careers in public service.

L.A. Cicero Truman_Scholars

Jessica Anderson, left, who is majoring in African and African American studies, and Meredith Wheeler, a political science and history major, are among this year's Truman Scholars.

The Harry S. Truman Foundation recently named two Stanford juniors – Jessica Laurel Anderson and Meredith Lukens Wheeler – as 2013 Truman Scholars.

Anderson and Wheeler were among the 62 students from 54 American colleges and universities who will receive Truman scholarships, which provide up to $30,000 for graduate study to college juniors with "exceptional leadership potential" who are committed to careers in the public service, including government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, and education.

In addition to receiving financial support for graduate school, the 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.

The 2013 Truman Scholars from Stanford are:

Jessica Laurel Anderson, of Chicago, who is majoring in African and African American studies with honors in education. She plans to pursue a master's degree in education leadership. She hopes to transform the education system in Chicago.

Anderson, who is a program fellow at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts and the co-founder of the Chicago Collective, an Afro-Jazz fusion group at Stanford, is a singer and songwriter.

Last spring, she appeared as Celie in the The Color Purple: A New Musical, based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker. The BlackStage Theatre Company and Stanford's Department of Drama produced the musical, which chronicles the life of Celie, a downtrodden woman in early 20th-century Depression-era Georgia.

During fall quarter, Anderson served as an intern at the Children's Defense Fund, an advocacy group headquartered in Washington, D.C., while she was enrolled in the Bing Stanford in Washington Program.

Anderson also has taught math and social science to 8th and 9th graders at the Centre of Science and Technology, a high school in Cape Town, South Africa, while enrolled in the Bing Overseas Studies Program.

Last summer, she taught students how to research and develop proposals with the Mikva Challenge, a civic literacy nonprofit in Chicago, and helped other students in the program make recommendations to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to start an initiative to offer free fares on city buses to low-income students.

Meredith Lukens Wheeler, of Fort Collins, Colo., who is majoring in political science and history with a focus on the modern Middle East, plans to pursue a master's degree in public policy. She hopes to have a career in international policy.

At Stanford, Wheeler has served as co-director of the American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS), a student initiative that enables the most promising youth change agents from across the Middle East, North Africa and the United States to learn from each other, advance their work and share, through TED-style talks, their ideas and experiences with the world.

Before arriving at Stanford, Wheeler spent a gap year between high school and college living in Ismailia, Egypt, studying Arabic under a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship. She lived with a host family and volunteered at a daycare center for disabled children.

Wheeler has spent the last two summers in Tangier, Morocco, one on a Critical Language Scholarship and one on a Stanford research grant, exploring how attitudes toward corruption affect support for Islamist political parties.

Every week, Wheeler goes to the Santa Clara County Juvenile Detention Facility and facilitates creative writing workshops for The Beat Within, a bimonthly publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth. She moderates two 1-hour sessions in different units in the facility. She also helps edit the publication.

Last academic year, Wheeler was the vice chair of programming for Stanford in Government, a nonpartisan student group affiliated with the Haas Center for Public Service. She coordinated speeches by Kofi Annan, the former U.N. Secretary-General, and Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times. She also ran an eight-week seminar series with former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold while he was in residence at the Haas Center.