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Friday, May 4, 2012

Conner Spinks, a University of Iowa undergraduate student, has been named a 2012 Truman Scholar. Spinks, a UI Honors Program student and junior from Des Moines, is one of only 54 students from across the nation to receive the nationally competitive award.

The Truman Scholarship recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who demonstrate a strong commitment to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education, or elsewhere in public service.

Conner Spinks
Conner Spinks

A student of political science and gender, women and sexuality studies in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Spinks’ commitment to the respectful provision of services to individuals disenfranchised inside already marginalized communities was fostered early in her experience at Iowa. Through her participation in the Iowa N.E.W. Leadership Institute and her work with One Iowa’s marriage equality campaign in 2010, she was able to cultivate new skills and then practice them through her outreach with people of color.

In her second year of study, Conner traveled to Africa, where she conducted research on the experience of the disabled inside of Ghana’s evolving disability rights movement before beginning an internship in the spring with the organization Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) in Washington, DC. After completing her degree in 2013, Spinks plans to pursue graduate studies in social work and community advocacy.

This year’s Truman scholars were selected from among 587 candidates nominated by 292 colleges and universities. They were chosen by 16 independent selection panels on the basis of their academic and leadership accomplishments and their likelihood of serving the public sector as leaders.

Spinks worked closely with the UI Honors Program’s Fellowships Director, Kelly Thornburg, and her community of support, which included faculty, research, and organizational mentors in preparation for the competition.

In June of 2009, the UI was named a Truman Foundation Honor Institution in recognition of its “active encouragement of outstanding young people to pursue careers in public service.” The award goes to institutions of higher education that enjoy sustained success in helping their students win Truman Scholarships and in the promotion of the principles of public service demonstrated by the foundation’s namesake. Spinks is the UI’s fifth consecutive winner of the Truman Scholarship, joining Veena Patel (11’), Chris Page (10’), Rachael Nathanson (09’) and Meredith DeBoom (08’) in this extraordinary community of activists and thinkers.

Each Truman Scholarship provides 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.

For a listing of the 2012 scholars and more information on the Truman Scholarship Foundation, visit