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Release: March 26, 1999

President-elect of UI student government wins Truman Scholarship

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Lana Zak, a University of Iowa junior, has won the prestigious Truman Scholarship, which carries a $30,000 stipend for use during the final year of undergraduate study and up to three years of graduate school.

Zak, who was recently elected student government president for the 1999-2000 academic year, was selected from a group of more than 650 candidates nationwide who were nominated for the award by their universities. The foundation awards up to 75 scholarships annually on the basis of candidates' leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of "making a difference." So far this year 65 have been awarded.

Zak is a political science and journalism major at the UI and currently works as a resident assistant in Mayflower Residence Hall. She will be sworn in as UI Student Government President on March 30. During the summer of 1998 Zak worked as an intern at the U.S. State Department, where she organized an international conference concerning the creation of a global disaster information network. She is a 1996 graduate of Bettendorf High School.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was founded by Congress in 1975 as the official federal memorial to honor President Harry S. Truman. The Foundation awards scholarships annually to students who plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service and wish to attend graduate school to help prepare for their careers.

"I'm so flattered that the Truman Foundation would think that I had so much potential for a career in public service that they would bestow this great honor on me," Zak said. "I am just so pleased and excited."

UI President Mary Sue Coleman gave Zak the news Thursday that she had won the scholarship. "Lana Zak is a bright student and a wonderful leader and role model for our student body," Coleman said. "She is truly deserving of this prestigious scholarship which will help her to pursue her academic goals as well as expand her leadership skills. I am so proud of her accomplishments."

Zak hopes to use her Truman Scholarship to pursue either a master's in public administration at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government or a master's of science in foreign service at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Her career goals include working for the State Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs, serving as a liaison to the United Nations, and eventually running for Congress.

In her career in public service, Zak said she hopes to be an advocate for public understanding and appreciation of the global community. "It is important for all policy makers to recognize that international affairs influence domestic affairs and visa versa," she wrote in her application for the Truman Scholarship. "When I enter public service, I will address the lack of acknowledgement for the importance of the global community and the implications of our domestic actions in the bigger picture."

Zak was one of 230 finalists for 1999 Truman Scholarships who were selected from among 657 candidates nominated by 332 colleges and universities. The selection was made by an 18-member committee composed of senior officials from academe or the public service and by former Truman Scholarship recipients. Finalists were selected largely on the basis of leadership abilities, academic performance and potential, community service records, and demonstrated commitment to the public service. Finalists interviewed in March with regional selection panels who selected the scholarship winners.

The 1999 Truman Scholarship recipients will assemble May 23 for a weeklong leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony at The Elms Resort and Spa in Excelsior Springs, Mo. on May 30.

(Editors note: Zak can be reached for interviews at (319) 353-1167. Doug Madsen, a UI professor of political science who helped Zak prepare for the Truman Scholarship competition, can be reached at (319) 335-2346. Sandra Barkan, the UI Truman Faculty Representative can be reached at (319) 335-2136.)