Robert Fisher, a Brock Scholar and Student Government Association President at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has been named a 2014 Truman Scholar by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Fisher plans to earn his undergraduate degree in political science in May 2015. He is the fourth student in the school’s history to be named a Truman Scholar.
“Robert Fisher’s student career at UTC has been nothing short of illustrious. He has been entrusted with the leadership of the UTC Student Government Association and has taken that office to new heights; he has helped forge new relationships between UTC and the larger Chattanooga community with his work in the city and the mayor’s office; he has contributed a powerful student voice to the larger statewide conversation about higher education in Tennessee via his work with the governor’s office,” said Dr. Linda Frost, Dean of the UTC Honors College.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, President of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, made today’s announcement. There are 59 exceptional college students from 52 U.S. colleges and universities who were selected from among 655 candidates. They were chosen by 17 independent selection panels on the basis of the finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders.
Fisher will receive up to $30,000 for graduate study. 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.
“This is such a tremendous honor,” Fisher said. “The process of applying for the Truman Scholarship provided me with the opportunity to thoughtfully consider the avenues through which I can serve others. This distinction not only signifies my lifelong commitment to public service, it truly provides me with additional leverage to make meaningful and positive change in the lives of other people. That thought gives me chills.”
A 2011 graduate of Rossview High School in Clarksville, Tennessee, Fisher has been a UTC standout since he arrived on campus. He has held multiple leadership roles at UTC, including president and treasurer of the UTC Student Government Association; chairperson of the UTC Brock Scholars Council; and a member of the UTC Freshman Senate, the UTC Admissions Team, and the UTC Chancellor’s Roundtable. Additionally, he has served on the UTC Complete College Strategic Task Force, the UTC Honors College Planning Committee, and the UTC Student Rating of Faculty Instruction Committee.
His community service includes volunteering as a mentor in the UTC Center for Community Career Education and as the Millennial Advocate for the Benwood Foundation Urban Redesign Steering Committee.
Among his many public service appointments, Fisher served as the Student Commissioner to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, as a member of the UT Advocacy Council (UTAC) Oversight Committee, and as co-chair of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke’s Chattanooga Forward Initiative for the Downtown Revitalization Taskforce. He was named Student Representative of Academic Affairs and Student Success for the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.
Fisher’s awards and honors include being named an Institute Scholar at the Institute for Responsible Citizenship and a Presidential Fellowship at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. At UTC, he was the recipient of a William E. Brock Scholarship and a UTC Provost Scholarship, and he was named UTC Student Government Association Freshman Senator of the Year.
“Robert is a powerful representative not just of UTC or of Tennessee, but of his generation,” Frost said. “He will transform higher education, wherever he goes, and winning the Truman—one of the most competitive and prestigious national scholarships in existence—simply shows that the representatives of the Truman Foundation recognized that fact.
Now that he has been selected as a Truman Scholar, Fisher will apply for the Washington Summer Institute. He has expressed interest in the Office of Post-Secondary Education (OPE), which is housed in the Department of Education. OPE formulates national higher education policies and administers programs that strive to improve access and affordability related to post-secondary education in America.
“At OPE, I would specifically like to work in the program office specializing in institutional service that provides individual institutions with monetary support to undergo comprehensive development. This area is critically important, especially for higher education institutions (HEIs) that seek to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students. This work will also align with my honors thesis, in which I plan to study HEIs and their impact on the communities they serve,” Fisher wrote in his application for the Truman Scholarship.
Looking ahead, Fisher said in his Truman application he intends to pursue the Masters in Public Administration (MPA) at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. He added that he sees himself working as the director of a higher education policy program, a leading university, or think tank in the next five to seven years. “This position will enable me to inform the discussion framing the contemporary challenges for higher education institutions (HEIs) on a national scale,” he wrote.
For more information about the Truman Foundation, click here.