Wofford’s Truman Scholar, Donovan Hicks ’16, talks a lot about making the most of the gift of education. A first-generation college student, Hicks came to Wofford because of a generous financial aid package and because he felt at home. The financial gifts and the gift of a Wofford welcome, however, were just the beginning.

“The Wofford liberal arts educational experience makes you stand out,” says Hicks, who this spring was awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship that will provide him with $30,000 toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming that will prepare him for a career in public service leadership. “My dreams are very large. I want to go to a top-10 law school. I want to work in education policy. I would love to ultimately be the CEO of, say, the Ford Foundation, the Roosevelt Institute or some big educational institution like that. One day I will, thanks to my start at Wofford College.”

Hicks, a government and finance major from Boiling Springs, S.C., is taking yet another step toward that goal this summer. He was one of 10 people selected as a 2015 Public Policy and International Affairs Law Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. The program provides students with training and financial support for graduate school and facilitates ongoing professional development.

Hicks is quick to say that he would not be where he is without mentors on the Wofford faculty and staff. He calls Dean of Students Roberta Bigger ’81 one of his “biggest confidants” and says that Dr. Phillip Swicegood, the R. Michael James Professor and Coordinator of the Finance Program, will have his eternal respect.

“I look up to him a lot,” says Hicks. “Dr. Swicegood is always willing to listen to me and talk with me, even though I don’t want to go into corporate finance work. He completely validates my dreams and respects my path.”

As a Bonner Scholar at Wofford, Hicks provides 140 service hours per semester to South Carolina Legal Services. He also has served as vice president of the Wofford Campus Union student government organization and is director of Student to Student (S2S), a local service initiative at Boiling Springs High School that aims at positioning students so that college is an option for them. In addition, Hicks works with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), a Christian outreach ministry on campus. He has completed two summers of service, one in New York City mentoring inner-city children with Project Morray and another in India doing communications for South Carolina Legal Services. He also shares his love of Wofford with prospective students as a Wofford Ambassador.

“Education is an issue I get fired up about, mostly because I realize the impact that education has had on me. That’s why I’ve tried to make the most of it—why I’ve tried to be so involved,” explains Hicks. “I feel the need to give back. If I don’t stand out, then I feel like I’m being unappreciative of the help I’ve been given.”

by Sarah Madden ’17