GCSU Truman Scholar attends summer leadership conference and finds hope
I t’s an age-old question: Are leaders born or made?
While certain characteristics and natural affinity are necessary, it’s also true great leaders are made—through multiple opportunities to practice the skill and the resources to get there.
That’s why, every summer, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation immediately invites its selection of new Truman Scholars to Truman Scholars Leadership Week. Georgia College & State University’s first Truman Scholar, Colin Hall, was at this summer’s shindig at William Jewel College in Liberty, Missouri.
Hall got straight to what he loves best: the business of diplomacy, rubbing elbows with 61 other 2023 Truman Scholars and learning the art of leadership. By the end, everyone was calling him “Mr. Georgia” and “Governor Hall”—a moniker of his political goal to become governor of Georgia.
“I made it a mission to meet every single scholar, and I can say I met all of them,” Hall said. “We were getting lots of knowledge, and it was really good stuff. It was just a lot. You got up in the morning; ate breakfast; you went to class; had lunch; more classes. It was a lot of information.”
At Georgia College, Hall is a senior political science major and seeks to become the first student at Georgia College to complete the Election Administration Certificate. The Truman Scholars Leadership Week took him far from campus and his home in Gray, Georgia, to the Midwestern state where President Truman was born and raised.
In addition to classes about higher education, leadership, ethics and morals, scholars did eight hours of community service and worked on a group project. Hall’s group created a policy on making schools safer and wrote a proposal letter to Congress, outlining what their law would accomplish.
The week was also packed with fun activities and field trips. Scholars played ping pong and foosball, had a cookout and dance and went on trips to see President Truman’s house, the Truman Library Institute and Clinton’s Soda Fountain shop in Independence, Missouri, where Truman worked his first job at age 14.
Hall enjoyed learning more about the man behind his scholarship. The Missourian never got a college education because he was needed on the family farm. Before he died, Truman asked they not set up a stone monument but a living memorial to encourage more Americans to get an education and seek public service. This became the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Years later, following Truman's vision, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Higher Education Act.
“That probably made this scholarship much more important—way more important to me,” Hall said, “Truman was a true public servant, and that’s one of the things the Truman Foundation wants to find through this scholarship—public servants. We have too many people who serve themselves instead of serving their constituents and the people of this country.”
Former Truman scholars were present throughout to help mentor the incoming group. Information was provided on future opportunities for scholars—like next year’s Truman Summer Institute, a 2 ½-month program where scholars can work with government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Scholars who attend this fully paid summer institute can also participate in a yearlong fellowship following their master’s. The Truman-Albright Fellowship, Truman Democracy Fellowship or Truman Governance Fellowship are internships with public service agencies.
Of course, Hall would like a political job. Prior to this summer’s leadership week, he intended to go directly to graduate school.
Now, he feels like so many doors and options are open to him.
And he feels he has the support and friendship of 61 other 2023 Truman Scholars.
“We call ourselves TruFam now,” Hall said, “No matter what, we all came together and put aside Republican/Democrat, put aside things that are happening in our world, all the rancor.”
“I still believe that when we come together, and we talk about things, we want the same thing for America,” he said. “We want to make a positive difference. We just have somewhat of a different vision of how to get there. But at the end of the day, if you're making a stand for something that's right, suddenly that's all that matters.”