It's not everyday that Chancellor John Wiley drops into class to announce a national scholarship recipient's name.
But Monday he did just that, revealing to University of Wisconsin senior Julie Curti and her entire political science class that she was one of just 75 students across the country named as a Truman Scholar.
"It was very surprising, and I was very honored," Curti said of Wiley's appearance. "I was shocked; I was not expecting to find out until a week later."
Matt Dull, associate lecturer in the political science class Curti was in during the announcement, said while Curti seemed somewhat embarrassed by all the commotion, she decided to stick out the remainder of class and "let the news sink in."
Every year, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation awards $30,000 scholarships for college students to go on to graduate school for preparation in government or public service careers.
Curti, a political science and geography major, said she intended to work in urban and regional planning whether or not she received the scholarship. The award, she said, just added incentive to her plans, since it provides her with "a lot to live up to."
The newly named Truman Scholar intends to take some time off before plunging into graduate school, exploring and learning more about urban planning and public affairs. Future plans could include a job with city government, probably near the West Coast where city size is growing, Curti said.
Professor Graham Wilson, chair of the department of political science, said Curti's accomplishment is "terrific for her and for the university," as the award is extremely selective, and UW has not boasted a winner in six years.
The rigorous selection process included a lengthy application as well as an interview at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago with other finalists, where Curti said she had to answer some tough questions for a panel of experts in the public policy field.
She survived the taxing interview process, and is now receiving praise for her achievement.
"My huge congratulations go out to her," Interim Dean of Students Lori Berquam said. "We're always in the spotlight for things like party school [rankings], and here we are being acknowledged because amongst us we have a Truman Scholar. It makes me so proud."
Dull said he has no doubt Curti was among the most promising of the scholarship finalists.
"Unlike so many successful undergraduates, Julie doesn't give the impression that she's trying too hard to impress," Dull said. "In class and in conversation, Julie is herself: smart, thoughtful, and engaging."
Curti is equally proud with her achievement, noting her anticipation in getting underway with internships and other opportunities offered through the scholarship foundation.
According to Curti, UW played a large part in her success.
"I started out not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, but I've had some great classes here that really inspired me, and some great teachers who really inspired me," she said, adding classes that incorporated service learning were particularly valuable to her.
"Being in Madison is really great — it's progressive, it's interesting, it's a good place to get involved," she said. "I'm just very happy with my experience here."