From Track Star to Academic Star: Russell M. Page wins Coveted Truman Scholarship

CMC junior joins select group of 54 named as Truman Scholars in U.S.

Russell is smart, thoughtful, a team player who stands his ground; very civic-minded, organized and hard working, and thoroughly admired and respected by his professors and peers.
Ward Elliott, CMC’s Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions a key advisor of the College’s Truman Scholarship candidates

Russell is a natural for the Truman: a terrific academic background, an outstanding record of leadership, and a deep passion for public policy.
John J. Pitney Jr., the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American PoliticsPage’s academic advisor

Division 3 allows athletes like Russell to enjoy being on a quality team while he personally develops: Russell has done a fantastic job of building himself into a competitive college athlete from modest high school performances. He proves the axiom, “hard, intelligent work pays.”
John Goldhammer, professor of physical education

Russell is a stellar example of how dedication to crafting the best Truman application possible and willingness to hone one’s interview skills can lead to wonderful things. He is a most recent member in a long line of CMC Truman Scholarship recipients who will serve as inspiration and motivation for future CMC scholarship applicants.
Matthew Beale, fellowships coordinatorCMC’s Center for Global Education

Russell Page ’13 sets quite a pace, both athletically and academically. As an All-West Region distance runner, Page helped the Stags at the NCAA National Championships this year. He did that while also earning All-Academic honors capped by being selected a 2012 Truman Scholar.

Considered by many to be among the highest honors to which a college junior can aspire, the Truman Scholarships are awarded each year by the Truman Foundation in recognition of promising leadership in the public service sector.

Ward Elliott, CMC’s Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions and a key advisor of the College’s Truman Scholarship candidates, says that as a Truman Scholar, Page brings a lot to the table.

The Truman is an intensely competitive national scholarship with an arduous application process. This year’s 54 Truman Scholars were chosen from 587 candidates, nominated by 292 colleges and universities. Sixteen independent selection panels selected the winners on the basis of their academic and leadership accomplishments and their likelihood of becoming public service leaders. The nearly 600 applicants does not include those students who compete on their own campuses for one of a school’s four nominations.

The scholarship provides up to $30,000 in funding to students pursuing graduate degrees in public service fields. The Foundation also provides assistance with career counseling, internship placement, graduate school admissions, and professional development. Scholars are invited to participate in a number of programs: Truman Scholar Leadership Week, The Summer Institute, and The Truman-Albright Fellows Program. The 2012 Scholars will assemble May 22 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, on May 27, 2012.

We caught up with Page (not easy to do when it comes to this speedster!) and learned about his Albuquerque roots, allegiance to green chile, and punk rock ethosamong other things.

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CMC: What was your reaction when President Gann gave you the good news about the Truman Scholarship?
Russell: I was ecstatic… It meant that all of the work I had put into the application processwriting and revising many essays and prepping for the intense interviewhad paid off. I’m happy for the opportunities that the Truman will offer me. The money is really not the important part of winning the Truman. I’m excited to be able to meet and work with many of the brightest students and change-agents in the country.

CMC: Where are you from, originally?
Russell: I am originally from the land of green chile and hot air balloons: Albuquerque, New Mexico. Anybody who knows me can tell you how much I love the state of New Mexico. The green chile packets I bring into Collins every morning and the red, yellow, and turquoise Zia symbol tattooed on my left shoulder remind me of home. I love the state for its beautiful scenery and incredible mix of cultures. Yet the state also has persistent problems of poverty, a large high school dropout rate and substance abuse.

Where I come from is very important to me. When I came out to college in Claremont, a wealthy and peaceful place, I vowed to not forget where I had come from. I want to go back and serve the state of New Mexico.

CMC: Why did you pick CMC as your college of choice?
Russell: I chose Claremont McKenna College because I wanted to come to a college that trains ethical, public service-minded leaders. Working as the web editor for the Claremont Port Side, I have helped cover the 5C campus community and our administrations critically. Over the last year I have helped coordinate critical coverage of the SAT scandal, the Condoleezza Rice protest, and the dining hall worker firings at Pomona.

I have also found leadership opportunities as a varsity Claremont-Mudd-Scripps cross country and track runner. Running for Coach Goldhammer and Coach Beck, and making lifelong friends with teammates from CMC, Harvey Mudd, and Scripps, has been an amazing experience. I came to college as a pretty mediocre high school runner. This past season, I scored for the cross country team at the NCAA National Championships.

CMC: What’s your major?

Russell: I am a dual history and government major. I think it’s important to learn how our government works today. But it is equally important to learn the themes and patterns from our past to make informed judgments on the future. I will be writing my senior thesis next year on Federal Indian Policy during the Nixon Administration, with a special focus on tribes in New Mexico. The late 1960s and early 1970s were a critical period for American Indians due to the militant activism of the American Indian Movement (AIM), a resurgence of Indian identity and the federal government’s shift toward self-determination policies.

CMC: What kind of public service will you do in the future?
Russell: I want to help the state of New Mexico. Right now, I think that will probably be in education policy. When I graduated as valedictorian from Albuquerque High School, only 62 percent of my original classmates joined me in receiving their diplomas. I want to work to curb the high school dropout crisis and help New Mexican students achieve academic success.

CMC: Who has been an important role model or mentor in your life?
Russell: At CMC, I have had two important role models. John Goldhammer, my cross country and track coach, has pushed me to train tirelessly. I have improved greatly during my time as a CMS runner. I came into the program with mediocre high school times. Last track season, I ran the 9th fastest 10k in program history. In the fall, I represented the Stags at Nationals, placing fifth on the team. I was an all-West Region runner and I also earned All-Academic honors.

John Pitney, my government professor, provided great advice during this process. He helped me develop my writing as a freshman in his Government 20 class. Last year, in Congress Simulation for his Congress course, I played Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico on the H.E.L.P. Committee. As Sen. Bingaman, I pushed for a high school dropout prevention bill.

CMC: Do you know what grad school you’ll be attending yet?
Russell: I will pursue a master’s in public policy, likely with a focus on education policy. I am not planning on going straight to graduate school after CMC. I plan to gain some more public service work experience beforehand. My first choice schools for my M.P.P. include Harvard’s Kennedy School, Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Public Policy, and Vanderbilt’s Education Policy Program at Peabody College.

CMC: What are your hobbies or how do you blow-off steam when not studying?
Russell: When I’m not studying, I like going to punk rock concerts. Back in high school, I was the lead singer and rhythm guitar player in a punk band called Emergency Ahead. I continue to live by the punk rock ethos of questioning authority, remaining true to myself rather than conforming to the crowd around me.

CMC: What is the best single thing/trick you’ve found works the best for you in concentrating your focus on your studies?
Russell: I think running has kept me focused. The self-discipline that comes from waking up at 6 every morning during cross country, and fighting through grueling workouts, carries over into the rest of my life. Believe me, if you can survive a cross-country race or a 10k on a track, and even betterrun one wellschool doesn’t seem too difficult.