The Lt. Governor spent last weekend participating in the Truman Scholars Leadership Week, an event aimed at supporting a new class of civic leaders. A Truman Scholar himself, the Lt. Governor served as a policy judge to student presenters, student advisor, and closing keynote speaker.
The Truman Scholarship is a distinguished national fellowship program for students who are committed to improving the world through a career in public service, and provides financial and structural support for graduate school. Through a highly competitive process, 62 students from all over the United States were chosen this year, and the 62 of them met together for the first time at the Truman Scholars Leadership Week for a series of community-building activities and challenges.
On Friday evening, the Lt. Governor met informally with a group of students interested in serving in public office. Through their wide-ranging discussions, the students and the Lt. Governor shared insights on local politics, debated public policy initiatives, and considered a variety of strategies for effective political progress.
On Saturday, the Lt. Governor served as a policy judge for a series of student presentations. Students were assigned a policy proposal during the week, and given 8 hours to research, and then organize a presentation to explain how that policy might best be implemented. The presentations, themselves around 45 minutes, were the result of well-organized, high-pressure teamwork, and the Lt. Governor returned their efforts with detailed questions and thoughtful feedback.
Saturday’s events culminated with the Lt. Governor’s keynote speech to the new scholars, their families, college faculty, and graduated Truman Scholars. The Lt. Governor described the inflection points that defined his own path toward public service — and challenged the new scholars to purpose whatever privileges life has given them toward practical efforts in public service.
The Lt. Governor also addressed the negativity typically used to describe elected life, saying “I hope that the negativity, bitterness — all of these elements that seem to be the most infamous aspects of electoral campaigns – don’t turn you off from considering the prospect of considering running for office – whether you’re a Republican or Democrat.”
The Lt. Governor offered himself as a personal resource to the new Truman scholars, saying that he would act as “a mentor, or resource, to any of you, in either party,” who is thinking about pursuing public office.
Students asked a variety of questions about the challenges inherent to public life, such as: How do you navigate compromising political realities; How do you contend with the dangers of serving in a public position; How do you maintain a positive attitude, and a health perspective?
The Lt. Governor responded to these concerns with this final point:
“When you have doubts about this system of ours that can sometimes seem so broken, and that can make us so cynical – those doubts, are for me, completely eradicated in those moments where young people come out and canvas, or sign-wave, or come and talk policy and issues; discuss what issues they want to debate, what issues they want you to work on – and when you get to serve.
It’s a huge honor… I want to be realistic with you about the challenges you may face, but I also cannot emphasize enough what a blessing it’s been for me to be able to have these opportunities.”