Truman nominee’s dedication for making difference leads her life

Eleanor Dickens, junior in political science, anthropology and international studies, has gone above and beyond in her past leadership positions that has helped lead her into the path of becoming one of the four nominees for the prestigious Truman Scholarship. (George Walker | The Collegian)

Giving back to a community can look like a number of things; for Eleanor Dickens, junior in anthropology, political science and international studies, seeing every aspect of charity has been incredibly important.

From her work as chair of the K-State Proud campaign to serving as president for the International Coordinating Council, Dickens has spend a great deal of her time at K-State giving back.

Each year, K-State nominates a select few students deemed outstanding by their professors and peers with an interest in public service for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. K-State may nominate up to four students to compete against over 600 students from around the U.S.

To Dickens, whose family was predominately educated in Texas, the decision to call K-State home was not one she made lightly. After visiting the campus and encountering the K-State Proud campaign, she decided that K-State was the right place for her.

“I could see myself gaining experience here instead of just dryly going through curriculum,” Dickens said.

Gaining experience has been a vital part of her time at K-State, and as such Dickens throws herself wholeheartedly into the activities of her choosing. This, however, sometimes becomes problematic.

“I came to college and wanted to deeply invest in a few things and be able to spend a lot of my time on them and not be spread so thin,” Dickens said. “But I found a lot of things I want to get involved in, so I still fell into my previous troubles of wanting to be involved in everything. It’s been difficult to learn to allocate time to all the different things that I’m passionate about.”

Her commitment and passion did not go unnoticed by her professors and peers. Dickens works as a teaching assistant for Marta Alfonso-Durruty, assistant professor in sociology and anthropology, who said that the junior is incredibly passionate and ambitious.

“When Eleanor decides to commit to something, she commits,” said Dickens’ Alpha Delta Pi sorority sister Allie Dwyer, junior in communication sciences and disorders. “She gives all her time, heart and energy to it. Whether it be a The Proud Campaign or grad school, Eleanor will make the most of all her experiences to grow not only herself, but those around her.”

Her passion is focused around public policy to help the less fortunate in under-developed countries. This passion helped her choose her majors; she wanted to ensure that she wasn’t going blindly into a situation, assuming that she knew what was best for the people in the actual situation. This lead her to her policy proposal paper for the Truman scholarship, which centered around economic effects of slave labor.

“I’m really interested in working in the future with international policies dealing with human and sex trafficking,” Dickens said. “The policy that I chose to suggest was one that centered around holding different businesses accountable for using slave labor in their supply chains.”

Dickens credits friends and teachers, both past and current, with teaching her about resilience and patience. On the other hand, Alfonso-Durruty said she has found Dickens to be incredibly dedicated to helping people and improving every day.

“I think Eleanor has always been extremely self-critical and she’s also very reflective,” Alfonso-Durruty said. “She’s not just interested in having good grades so she’s not your traditional good student. She’s also interested in improving herself. I think Eleanor is very well-rounded, both in terms of her academic skills as well as her social interests.”

Dwyer, who has known Dickens since they were both freshmen, said she has enjoyed watching the Truman nominee grow throughout the past several years as she invested in clubs and activities that Dickens said she could make a difference in.

“Although Eleanor pushes herself to be the best she can; her favorite commitments in her life are those that serve others,” Dwyer said. “Her motivation and undeniable passion to leave every place and person better than she found them is something special.”

For Dickens, the thrill of the Truman scholarship came from being able to have the opportunity to try to fix a complicated issue if given all the resources. Though her professors and advisers were beneficial in her scholarship process, her biggest role models are her two older sisters and her grandmother.

“If I know anyone who is the pinnacle of resilience, that is my grandma,” Dickens said. “But when you talk to her she is the most peaceful person. She’s just wonderful and has taught me a lot of lessons about what it means to be a courageous and honest person.”

The lessons she has learned from all aspects of her life, family, friends and teachers teachers have all cumulated to bring her to the point of her Truman scholarship application. While it is just one small piece in her puzzle, it could provide Dickens a stepping stone to a great graduate school and her life in public policy beyond. Dickens said she always tries to ensure that in all she does, she has good and pure intentions.