Wilmington’s Margaret Brown Receives Harry Truman Scholarship

(NOTE: The below news story, written by Ursula Paige Granirer, was published on Trinity College’s website and is shared with permission.  Read the original story HERE.)

HARTFORD, CT — Margaret Brown (Class of 2017), an urban studies and human rights double major at Trinity College, has been awarded a prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship for 2016. A [Wilmington, Massachusetts] native, Brown is one of only 54 recipients nationwide, and is the second Trinity student to be selected for this honor in three years.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to President Harry S. Truman. The foundation’s mission is to select and support the next generation of public service leaders. Candidates for the Truman Scholarship go through a rigorous, multi-stage selection process. In 2016, there were 775 candidates for the award nominated by 305 colleges and universities, marking a record number of applications and institutions. The 200 finalists for the award were interviewed in March and early April at one of 16 regional selection panels. Each recipient receives a $30,000 scholarship for graduate school. Brown and the other winners received their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 29.

Brown works 40 hours a week at Our Piece of the Pie, a non-profit organization in Hartford for at-risk urban youth. She works specifically with kids in juvenile and state protective custody as a social services caseworker. “A lot of my kids have high ACE scores, which is a numerical indicator of negative childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, and trauma, which significantly increases their risk of behavioral, emotional, social, and health problems as an adult,” Brown said. “As a youth development specialist, I work with these kids to overcome these experiences and become successful young adults in the Greater Hartford community.”

Brown also participates in “New Beginnings,” an on-campus meeting group between students and women who have recently been released from York Correctional Institution. Utilizing the concepts of expressive arts activities, the group works to explore the challenges of re-entry and support the women after their time in prison.

“Everyone goes through things; everyone has a story,” Brown said. “But there are a lot of people, like the kids I work with and the women at York Correctional, whose stories go untold. Nobody cares and nobody pays attention, and that’s not right. We all have dreams, and we all deserve to pursue those dreams. No matter our past mistakes, or the wrongs we’ve committed, we all deserve an opportunity to be successful.” She said that working on these projects is her way to help share those untold stories. “I help people achieve their dreams just by doing little things every day,” Brown said. “Small acts by millions of people can change the world. It’s a beautiful thing.”

As the inspiration to much of her work, Brown credits Judy Dworin ’70, Trinity College professor of theater and dance, emerita, who nominated Brown for the Truman Scholarship. This past fall Dworin taught a class about incarceration issues in the United States. Dworin also runs the “New Beginnings” program in addition to founding and directing her own non-profit, the Judy Dworin Performance Project, an arts organization with a 26-year history of giving voice to unheard populations through the arts. Brown said, “There are no words to describe what Judy has done for me, and the impact she has had on my life. She believed in me like no one ever has before, and this award is hers as much as it is mine. She pushed me to do incredible things, and I would not be a Truman Scholar without her.”

When describing Brown’s impact at Our Piece of the Pie, Dworin said, “She is totally passionate about this work and the possibilities that it offers in providing alternatives to at-risk youth that help steer them in constructive directions. And her work in ‘New Beginnings’ had this same passion, insight, and bravery. … I cannot think of anyone more well-suited for or deserving of the honor of a Truman Scholarship.”

Brown aspires to attend law school after graduation, and also wants to pursue a dual degree in a master’s of social work program. She plans to study public interest and juvenile law, and hopes to become a child advocacy lawyer.

Maggie Brown
Joanne Berger-Sweeney (Trinity College president & professor neuroscience) with Harry S. Truman Scholarship recipient Trinity junior Margaret Brown

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