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N.C. A&T’s Caldwell Named 2020 Truman Scholarship Finalist

By Jackie Torok / 03/12/2020 Academic Affairs, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 12, 2020) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University political science student Brenda Caldwell is following the example her grandparents, the late Brenda and Johnny Hodge, set for her while she was growing up in Greensboro.

As she nears the end of her junior year, Caldwell continues to receive recognition for the impact she is having on the campus and the outside community.

Caldwell has been named a 2020 finalist for the Truman Scholarship, a premier fellowship for those pursuing careers as public service leaders. She was invited to interview in the first panel of students March 2 in Washington, D.C., after completing a competitive campus selection process through N.C. A&T Extraordinary Opportunities.

“This experience was very rigorous, but it allowed me to reflect on the meaningful experiences I’ve had during my time at A&T and how those experiences have shaped what career path I want to take as I get ready to begin the law school application process in the fall,” said Caldwell.

Brenda Bethel Hodge, for whom Caldwell is named, was a teacher at Washington Street and S.A. Peeler elementary schools, then, Dudley High School. Dr. Johnny B. Hodge was co-director of N.C. A&T’s storied marching band in the 1970s and ‘80s, served as the university’s longtime director of bands and was a member of the Guilford County Schools board.

“Both of them advocated for black and brown people and the low-income members of our society throughout their adult lives,” said Caldwell. “Their passion for civic engagement rubbed off on me.”

Caldwell, who serves as attorney general of the N.C. A&T Student Government Association, has worked to increase voter engagement by leading registration drives and requesting the restoration of an early poling site on campus for the 2020 elections. She plans to earn a master’s degree and Juris Doctor in public policy as she works to fight discrimination, especially in labor and employment matters, and improve political engagement among young Americans and marginalized groups.

The Truman Scholarship, established by Congress in 1975, is a program of The Truman Foundation, which was established by Harry S. Truman, the nation’s 33rd president. It funds graduate studies and professional development for college and university juniors in any discipline who have a documented commitment to leadership and service. Notable Truman Scholars include Stacey Abrams, John King Jr. and Susan Rice, the former U.S. ambassador who will be the keynote speaker for N.C. A&T’s undergraduate commencement ceremony May 9.

Caldwell was one of 190 candidates representing 136 colleges and universities to be selected as a finalist based on records of leadership, public service and academic achievement.

This is one of the latest accolades for Caldwell in her educational career at N.C. A&T. A Dowdy Scholar, she was one of 22 students from across North Carolina to receive a 2019 North Carolina Campus Compact Community Impact Student Award. Campus Compact is a statewide network of colleges and universities committed to community engagement.

Campus Compact also selected Caldwell as a Newman Civic Fellow, based on her nomination by Chancellor Harold L. Martin Jr. which was facilitated by Dawn Murphy, Ed.D., assistant vice chancellor for student development. The yearlong program includes virtual learning opportunities as part of a national network of engaged student leaders.

Along with Joanna Martinez, a junior history student, Caldwell was selected as a recipient of the 2020 Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute. Caldwell will attend the program at the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Caldwell is N.C. A&T’s second Truman Scholar finalist, following animal science student Kinnidy Coley, who was selected last year and is expected to graduate in May. Nina Blue, an English and political science student, and Yvonne Malone, a criminal justice student, were the other two N.C. A&T juniors nominated to apply this year.

The 2020 Class of Truman Scholars will be announced no later than April 15.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu