SARASOTA -- New College of Florida student Michael Long has received one of the nation's most prestigious scholarships.
Long earned the 2013 Truman Scholarship, a competitive award given to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to a public service career.
Only 62 students nationwide received the Truman Scholarship, and Long is the only recipient from Florida this year. Long, 21, is the first New College Truman winner since 1990.
The Truman Foundation was established in 1975 to honor the President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). Scholars, selected after a rigorous application and interview process, are chosen for academic achievement and likelihood of becoming public service leaders.
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Past recipients of the Truman Scholarship include Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and George Stephanopolous, former White House adviser and ABC news anchor.
When Long applied for the scholarship at the suggestion of a friend, he did not envision himself becoming one of the few winners.
"I realized I needed to have a structure around thinking about my future," Long said. "That was something I needed to work on."
The application process required Long to write several in-depth essays about the future.
"It makes you think introspectively. I feel incredibly surprised and humbled," Long said.
A world traveler and a class leader, Long has been described by New College President Donal O'Shea as the epitome of New College student tradition.
Long, who graduated from Lakewood Ranch High School, served two terms as co-president of New College student government, was named a Kremlin Fellow in 2012 and was one of 15 college student leaders nationwide selected by the Russian Federation Federal Agency on Youth Affairs to travel to Russia to meet officials, business leaders and students.
Last month, he traveled to South Korea and studied at Yonsei University as one of 40 American college students chosen by the Council on International Education Exchange.
As a Truman scholar, Long will be awarded up to $30,000 for graduate study. He will also get priority admission and supplemental financial aid at certain graduate institutions. The scholarship includes 10-week internship in Washington, D.C.
Long will join other Truman scholar recipients in 33rd president's home state of Missouri this summer for a week-long leadership training program. After that, he will plan his internship over the course of the next few months. Long said he is leaning toward interning with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Long is considering Georgetown and Florida State University for graduate school.
Long is captain of the New College Sailing Team and in his spare time, he enjoys being out on the water.
"Sailing is my favorite thing in the world, whether competing or relaxing. I will find a way to go sailing one way or another," Long said.
Long hopes to hold a senior leadership position with delinquency prevention or the State Department of Juvenile Justice Agency.
"I want to show that there are effective policies to change the way we see juvenile justice," Long said.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on twitter @ericabearl.