Las Cruces – Eric Layer, a junior majoring in economics at New Mexico State University, has been awarded the 2010 Truman Scholarship, a prestigious award given to students with outstanding academic records who have demonstrated potential for leadership and the commitment to pursue a career in government or public service.
Layer was among the 60 students from around the nation who received the award, which provides funding of up to $30,000 for the pursuit of a graduate degree in public service fields.
"Eric possesses all the qualities of an ideal Truman Scholar - he has proven leadership potential, outstanding intellect, and the drive and ability to make a positive difference in the world," said Tracey Miller-Tomlinson, associate dean of the Honors College at NMSU.
A large portion of the Truman Scholarship application focuses on the candidate's policy proposal, which outlines a significant social or economic problem and proposes a policy-based solution to it. Layer's proposal focused on Social Security reform.
Layer interned at the White House in 2008, where he worked in media affairs. Upon returning, Layer published an essay about his experiences in The New York Times.
"His leadership skills have been tested in the fires of both local and national politics," Miller-Tomlinson said. "He served as an intern and writer for the campaigns of New Mexico politicians and as a White House intern for former President George W. Bush."
In addition to the award, the foundation provides assistance with career counseling, internship placement, graduate school admissions and professional development.
"Dr. McFerrin, Dean Carruthers, Dean Eamon and Dr. Miller-Tomlinson - just to name a few - were instrumental, and always willing to help out, answer questions and go the extra mile," Layer said. "I am proud to represent NMSU and am honored by and grateful for this opportunity."
Layer plans to pursue a graduate degree in economics or public policy, and a career in politics, first in staff function and later in an elected capacity. One of his major interests lies in communications, where he aspires to modify the way representatives handle communications.
"I believe that staffers well versed in the economics behind an issue can help educate and engage the public, instead of the current system in which staffers well versed in media and communications try to sell' a policy to the public," Layer said.
Former Truman Scholars include Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, former White House Communications Director George Stephanopoulos and Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas Bill Halter.
Layer is originally from Albuquerque and was once the student body president and valedictorian at Sandia High School. He is an NMSU Class of 2011 President's Associates Scholar.