College of Arts and Sciences


  • Spectator - Kevin Eggers Sole Truman Scholar from WA State

    By Kat Catlett

    May 17, 2010

    Seattle University has produced a Truman Scholar for the eighth year in a row, bringing the total number to 14.

    The Truman Scholarship is a national $30,000 grant awarded to 60 undergraduates annually for excellent work in the study of public services or charity.

    Junior philosophy major Kevin Eggers is the latest Seattle U student to receive the award for his health-care policy proposal, which would require pharmacies to notify patients when substituting their medicines for generic brands. His proposal stems from his personal experiences with epilepsy.

    Eggers, ASSU at-large representative, was the only winner selected from Washington state. Eggers was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 13. While he no longer has seizures, he uses his life experiences to educate the public about epilepsy and motivate other students who live with the condition to take action.

    Eggers regularly travels the nation to hear other people’s stories about living with epilepsy. According to Eggers, these personal accounts help him better understand the biggest problems in American health care.

    He also used these experiences as motivation in the Truman Scholarship competition.

    “Getting to know these people and their struggles, and my own struggles, were my driving forces,” Eggers said.

    After being one of 576 juniors initially nominated, Eggers was later chosen to be one of the 200 finalists. During this time period, he began to meet with Jerry Cobb, S.J., the Truman Foundation faculty representative, on a regular basis.

    Together, they ran through the entire finalist process and held practice interviews. For the final mock interview, Cobb gathered professors and faculty to act as the Truman Scholarship interviewing panel.

    “Seattle University and Fr. Cobb have a tremendous training program for Truman Scholars,” Eggers said. “It’s incredible that faculty and staff were willing to take time out of their schedule to help me.”

    In his application, Eggers submitted an original health-care policy proposal for the panel to review. This policy focused on pharmacy practices in Idaho, his home state. Currently, pharmacists are not required to notify patients or doctors of a switch from a brand name medication to a generic medication.

    Eggers explains that in “narrowly therapeutic” medications—the type of medications used by epileptics—this sort of transition could be potentially dangerous. The policy proposal he submitted requires pharmacists to notify doctors and patients of a switch. This allows patients to make their own decision as to whether a change from brand name to generic medication would be best for them.

    His policy proposal, along with his discussion of high health-care premiums and the negative impact of pre-existing conditions, were what impressed panelists the most about Eggers.

    “[The competition] opened a lot of doors for me,” Eggers said. “It increased my likelihood of getting into top graduate programs, has offered me graduate and career advice and has presented me with a lot of new connections.”

    Cobb also spoke highly of the additional opportunities the Truman Scholarship program offers for Eggers.

    “The scholarship does provide $30,000 toward Kevin’s graduate school expenses,” Cobb said. “But more than the money, it provides him with a yearlong internship in Washington, D.C. It will connect him with a wonderful network of other outstanding young leaders.”

    Eggers hopes to take advantage of the internship in Washington, D.C. by applying to work in the White House or the Department of Health and Human Services. He hopes to eventually go to law school while earning a degree in health policy to one day become a House Representative or a Senator for Idaho.

    “Kevin is an extraordinary person, and I fully expect that the people of Idaho will elect him to office someday,” Cobb said.

    Eggers will receive his Truman Scholarship in a formal ceremony held at the Truman Library in Independence, Miss. May 30.

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