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Student’s activism lands Truman Scholarship

April 07, 2008

For the second year in a row, an ASU student has won a Truman Scholarship, the nation’s highest undergraduate leadership award. The $30,000 award is given to about 65 college juniors each year who show outstanding leadership potential and intend to pursue careers in public service.

Devin Mauney, a junior in economics from Tucson, hopes to use the award to enter a joint program at Harvard in law and public policy.
Mauney has long been a precocious and inquisitive student who doesn’t stand on the sidelines. In high school he ran for the Tucson school board when he was barely 18, because he thought the board was becoming disconnected with what was going on in the classroom.

“As a student, I thought I could change that,” he says. “I lost, but I was able to affect the debate.”

That same year, he became the youngest member of a national commission for the United Methodist Church. As a board member, he got involved with Nothing But Nets, an organization providing mosquito netting to protect African children from malaria. He addressed an international gathering of young people, traveled to Zimbabwe and began raising funds.

All this took place before he arrived at ASU in 2005, as a freshman in Barrett, the Honors College, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Since then, Mauney has been active as chairman of the Arizona Students’ Association and director of government relations for Undergraduate Student Government. Last year, he went before the Arizona Board of Regents to talk about tuition increases, after rallying the three state university student governments around his idea of tying tuition increases to legislative appropriations.

“For the first time, a student-submitted tuition proposal was the basis for discussion rather than a footnote,” Mauney says. “The regents created a compromise, and we had laid the groundwork for the future.”

He’s also worked on a number of statewide political campaigns along the way.

Last year he won a National Security Education Program grant to study in Brazil. For six months, he took classes in economics, political science and international relations, also learning to speak Portuguese. It intensified his interest in international trade issues, and his desire to assist developing countries.

Nancy Roberts, an ASU economics professor, says Mauney is “extremely bright, curious about many things and intuitive, a gifted and hardworking scholar with great potential to succeed in whatever he chooses to do. He’s a leader with an innovative and cooperative spirit, and he has the respect of his peers.”

Mauney eventually wants to work in Congress to eliminate high import tariffs and domestic price supports, to increase trade fairness for developing countries. He’d also like to serve in the Arizona Legislature, improving education policy.