When Abby McCartney ’10 decided not to answer a call from an unknown number Wednesday during her internship at the John S. Martinez School in New Haven, she had no idea that she was accidentally giving the cold shoulder to University President Richard Levin. Levin, as it turns out, was trying to inform her that she had been named a 2008-’09 Truman Scholar.

“I was in the middle of a conversation with a teacher, and I figured I’d just call them back,” McCartney said. “I called back and it was President Levin.”

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”10808″ ]

McCartney and the other 59 Truman Scholars across the country will each receive $30,000 to fund graduate work, leadership training, career counseling and federal internships. Truman Scholars are also given special priority in the admissions process at selected graduate schools, and may receive exclusive offers of financial aid.

Linda De Laurentis, fellowship program director at the Office of Fellowship Programs, describes the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation award for juniors as “the premier award for undergraduates with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to making a difference through careers in the public service arena.”

“Abby’s selection underscores once again the importance of public service as an integral part of Yale culture,” De Laurentis said. “We are enormously proud of her accomplishments and potential for making significant contributions to public education.”

It was fitting that McCartney, a Dallas native and political science major, learned of winning the Truman Scholarship at the John S. Martinez School, a K-8 magnet school where she is currently completing a two-year Dwight Hall Public School Internship.

Some of McCartney’s recent projects have included running an after-school Ultimate Frisbee team, teaching first-graders about Hanukkah and recruiting academic tutors.

Though McCartney worked as a tutor throughout high school, she identified her involvement in Yale’s Roosevelt Institution Education Center during her freshman and sophomore years as the inspiration for her interest in education policy.

“We were always trying to find something we could research that people would be interested in,” McCartney said. “Walking that balance between what we were interested in and what would be useful was a really good experience.”

Though McCartney said in her application proposal that she plans to pursue a career in public policy and education, she told the News that she is still weighing her options. She is considering attending public policy school or law school after graduation.

Lauren Holtzblatt, an associate rabbi at the Slifka Center, said she first met McCartney when McCartney was a student in Holtzblatt’s “Conversations on Israel” class, where Holtzblatt said she noticed McCartney’s interest in public policy.

“Abby’s commitment to public service comes from the value of tikkun olam, envisioning a better world and implementing change through public service,” Holtzblatt said in an email.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, selected this year’s Truman Scholars from a pool of 601 nominees. The 2008-’09 Truman Scholars hail from 55 universities and colleges, including one each from Harvard and Cornell universities and Dartmouth College.

Yale nominated four juniors for the scholarship this year, and all four were named as finalists. Last year, two Elis were named as Truman Scholars.