KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 12, 2001 -- If you had told Cumberland resident John DiMuro a couple months ago that hed be winning one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships in the nation, he would have laughed at the thought. "I knew [the scholarship] was a good fit with my personality, but I thought that I didnt have a chance in the world," said the double major in chemical engineering and German.
Named after the former president, the merit-based scholarship, awarded by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, is given annually to college juniors who wish to attend the nations top graduate schools in preparation for careers in government or public service.
Along with his genuine personality, commitment to public service, and academic excellence, DiMuro particularly stood out from the other scholarship applicants because of a project that he conducted over the summer as an intern for Teknor Apex, a Pawtucket-based chemical company.
Originally assigned to help collect samples of the amount of organic pollution leaving the plant, DiMuro took on an assignment of his own to improve the companys wastewater management and distillation process. To the surprise of his co-workers, his process produced an astonishing 95 percent water quality improvement. Humble as always, DiMuro credits his co-workers more than his own effort. "I collected bits of knowledge from everyone at the plant and I merely had the time to put it all together," he said.
DiMuro convinced the Truman Foundation that he has what it takes to be a potential leader and succeed in public service. "He was able to convince them that hed be a great spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (his career goal)," said Cheryl Foster, associate director of the URI Honors Program. "He has the scientific know-how, the industry experience, and the ability to persuade."
DiMuro has big plans once hes part of the EPA. First, he wants to help create a better relationship between the government and industry so that they can collaborate and enhance environmental policy. Secondly, he wants to lead the effort to standardize global environmental regulations because there is a lack of consensus for pollution control.
When looking back, DiMuro added that it wasnt easy to prepare for the interview process. "It was like another three-credit course," he said. He credits the coaching and support of Foster and other faculty and staff. "I had no idea what the scholarship was until Cheryl told me about it and convinced me that I had a shot at winning," he said.
The Foundation expects to award a total of 75-85 Truman Scholarships this year. The award gives recipients $3,000 for their senior year of undergraduate education and $27,000 for their graduate studies. Surprisingly, DiMuro wasnt seriously considering graduate school until he won the award. Now hes looking at MIT to learn more about global and environmental sustainability.
Foster, a former Truman Scholar herself, stresses that the scholarship is a "living memorial" of the former U.S. president and everything he stood for. "Its not just about the money, its an investment in the future of this country," she said. She added that the scholarship also provides students with a 10-week, paid internship with a federal agency of their choice along with other opportunities.
For Information: Todd McLeish 874-7892, Keith Marshall 874-2116