Friday, March 6, 2009

Introducing the Udall 2009 blog

Welcome to the 2009 Udall committee blog. Tara Yglesias at the Truman Foundation has blazed a trail using Twitter to update all of us during the Truman process, which inspired me to try blogging the Udall Scholarship committee reading process this year.

The blog will begin in earnest on Wednesday, March 11, when the Udall committee members meet in Tucson for orientation and a dinner. I hope to post frequently – perhaps several times a day – between then and when we finish the reading and selection process on Sunday morning, March 15.

My goal with this blog is twofold: 1) to “lift the curtain” on the reading process that goes into a national scholarship committee, letting everyone see what it looks like when committees meet, what our procedures are, and what the general process is to narrow down 500+ applications into the 80 scholars and 50 honorable mentions, and 2) to share what I learn about the Udall Scholarship from the perspective of a scholarship advisor that will help me advise my own candidates in the future.

What I won’t be doing, obviously, is discussing specific candidates or even say which committee members are reading which regions. I’ll stick to generalities about how the process is going and what I am learning in the big picture.

I’d like to thank Jane Curlin and Mia Ibarra at the Udall Foundation for their cooperation in letting me do this – not everyone would be willing to have a committee member blog the process and lift the curtain. I will say that I did offer, and Jane and Mia have accepted the offer, for one or both of them to read and approve each post before it goes up (including this one). I don’t want to accidentally share confidential information, or post something that the Udall Foundation wouldn’t want known publicly.

A little about me, just so you know who you are reading – I’ve been the director of service and social commitment at Grinnell College in Iowa for about 10 years, and as such serve as the college’s scholarship/fellowship advisor. I also run the community service center, advise students on post-graduation service opportunities, and administer our own post-grad service program, the Grinnell Corps. I’m a NAFA board member, blogged the NAFA UK trip in 2006, and have served as a national panel member in the past for the Madison Fellowship, Dell Scholarship, and once before for the Udall. I am also very excited about getting out of the end of Iowa’s winter for a few days in Tucson!

I hope you’ll check back frequently next week and through the following weekend as the blog gets going in earnest. You should also feel free to email me questions at, and you can share this URL with your Udall applicants as well. They’re not going to learn the outcome of the committee’s decision any earlier, but they might get an interesting look into how the decision-making process goes.

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