Mar 062008
 
Authors: Tim Maddocks

Seeing a helpless special-needs student get slammed into his locker between sophomore high school classes inspired Cory Longhurst to start a big brother-type mentoring program for special-needs students.

He wasn’t thinking about going on to have a 4.0 GPA in college or to be a finalist for one of the most prestigious college scholarships in the country.

As of this semester, Longhurst has competed with 600 of the nation’s top students to reach a top spot in the running for the $30,000 Harry S. Truman Scholarship Program.

The 21-year-old junior business administration and agricultural business double major will have his final Denver regional interview today. Along with his 4.0 GPA, Longhurst’s longstanding hands-on social advocacy has qualified him as a finalist for the prestigious Truman Scholarship.

Heather Esterday, coordinator for CSU’s Nationally Competitive Scholarship Program, said more than 600 students applied for the “very competitive scholarship.” Longhurst is one of 211 finalists nationwide.

The scholarship for college juniors emphasizes leadership potential and communications skills and provides up to $30,000 for students pursuing graduate degrees in public service fields.

“I don’t feel that I am a person that stands apart from everyone else,” Longhurst said. “I feel that I am truly blessed to have an opportunity to get the Truman Scholarship.”

But qualifying as a finalist for the Truman Scholarship does indeed mean that Longhurst stands apart.

Most recently Longhurst has been involved with the UniverCity Connections’ Homelessness Taskforce Group and has interned at Community Foundations of Northern Colorado, a nonprofit donor service. He is also a presidential ambassador for CSU, representing the student voice at various fundraising events.

However, social advocacy is not new to Longhurst. His first proactive endeavor to address social needs came when he was only 12 years old.

By Longhurst’s senior year in high school, the very same student that he saw being slammed into the locker was equipment manager of the football and basketball teams and was voted as the king of the Sadie Hawkins dance.

Growing up in a rural agricultural community east of Brighton, Longhurst observed that local children didn’t have the same opportunity as he, to raise and show sheep at local fairs. So through his 4-H club, Longhurst organized a program to provide less fortunate children sheep, teach them to raise and show the sheep and to turn a profit from the experience.

His passion followed him to CSU where last year he organized a fund for Habitat for Humanity helping raise $14,000 for a home for Bosnian refugees, and last semester he volunteered 180 hours at the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, where he now interns.

Longhurst said that his faith in God and his faith that the world can be a better place compel him to help those less fortunate.

“Faith is more of a fragrance than words. I can tell you about how good a rose smells but until you actually smell it, it means nothing,” said Longhurst. “In the same way, I can tell you what service and compassion and faith look like, but it means nothing unless you see me put those things in action.”

Longhurst had his final interview Thursday in Denver with the scholarship foundation and will hear whether he gets the award March 25

Roxanne Fry, Longhurst’s supervisor at Community Foundations, said that his passion for social issues is a characteristic that qualifies him for the Truman Scholarship.

“The Truman Scholarship recognizes and rewards students that demonstrate leadership potential and a commitment to public service,” Fry said. “And Corey definitely fits that description. His interest in public service is obvious.”

Staff writer Tim Maddocks can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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