Mirror Exclusive: Six questions with Truman Scholar Audrey Cope

Audrey Cope, a junior with double majors in French and government and international affairs, was recently selected as a 2020 Truman Scholar. 

This award, given by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, is granted for academic and leadership performance and includes a $30,000 scholarship towards graduate school.

As one of 62 Truman Scholars selected from a pool of over 750 candidates, Cope plans to pursue a career serving students who face barriers to higher education. 

At Augustana, Cope is the vice president of the Augustana Student Association and received the 2020 Excellence Covenant Award. She is originally from Rapid City, South Dakota and spends her free time  hiking and running. She is the tenth student from Augustana to be named a Truman Scholar.

What does it mean to you to be a Truman scholar?

It’s a huge honor. That alone is enough to take note of, and that’s obviously deeply meaningful. Also, I think something people often forget is you now have a responsibility to deliver on what you said you would.  You have a responsibility to actually go back to your home state and make things better.

What is your personal leadership style? 

I would classify my personal leadership style as one that’s relationship-building focused. The most meaningful leadership opportunities that I have extend from this past year being ASA vice president. My favorite part of that has been all of the unexpected relationships that were formed.

Why did you become interested in government and public service?  

As a kid, history and government classes were the ones I liked the most. I think that was because I really like narratives, and I really like stories, people and how they connect to each other.

What goals do you have for the future?

Long term, what I’m passionate about is [decreasing] barriers of access to higher education. So before I go to a grad program and gain more academic knowledge, I want to immerse myself as much as I can [to understand] what people who experience barriers to access are living.

What started your passion for equitable access to higher education? 

Actually sitting down with students who were different than me and who experienced all these barriers to access. Listening to what it was and challenging myself to see the world through their lens.

What does it mean for you to be a lifelong learner? 

Being a lifelong learner means you learn from every situation that you are put in, and when you enter those situations, you recognize that when you come into them, you might have biases that you’re unaware of.

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