Three Baylor Students Named Finalists For Truman Scholarship

March 25, 2010

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Three Baylor University juniors - Katie Jo Baumgardner of Louisburg, Kan., Saralyn Salisbury of Cypress and Kaitlin Speer of San Antonio - are among 176 finalists for the 2010 Truman Scholarship, which recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service.

The Truman Foundation is expected to award 65 students nationwide with the prestigious scholarship in late March. Baumgardner is among five finalists representing the state of Kansas, while Salisbury and Speer are among nine finalists representing the state of Texas.

The Foundation initially received 576 applications from 245 U.S. colleges and universities, with the list pared down to the 176 finalists from 122 colleges and universities. The Foundation's Finalist Selection Committee reviewed the materials and selected Finalists based on their commitment to public service, record of leadership and likelihood of success in the graduate school program proposed by the student.

Baumgardner, a junior University Scholar on a pre-law track with concentrations in political science and Great Texts, is among five finalists representing the state of Kansas. She said she applied for the Truman Scholarship because of her "heart for public service."

"The Truman Foundation has set up a program that goes a long way towards furthering the goals of future public servants and provides Scholars with the support necessary to succeed in graduate school and beyond," Baumgardner said. "It has been an honor to represent Baylor University, and I feel blessed to be chosen as a 2010 Kansas Finalist."

Baumgardner plans to pursue a joint master's degree in public affairs and a law degree. After law school, she hopes to serve as a prosecutor in the public sector, working with juvenile offenders and striving to implement programs that combat crime in her community.

Salisbury, a junior international studies major with minors in French and African studies, said she applied for the Truman Scholarship because her leadership experience and commitment to public service coincided with the mission of the Truman Foundation.

"I was excited about the opportunities the Truman Scholarship could present in advancing my career in public service," Salisbury said. "Since I have been at Baylor, I have been able to strengthen my leadership skills by starting an organization on campus - the Baylor Chapter of International Justice Mission - which is a human rights organization committed to advocating for victims of violent oppression, such as human trafficking and modern-day slavery."

In the future, Salisbury hopes to be able to influence major anti-human trafficking legislation in the United States by working within government agencies such as the Department of Justice or Department of State or tackle human rights cases in the developing world with an international human rights organization.

Speer, a junior University Scholar on a pre-med track with concentrations in mathematics and French, applied for the Truman Scholarship to help her reach her goals in public service.

"I felt that the Truman would serve as an enabler, not only for helping pay for graduate school, but also for helping me realize my long-term goals," Speer said. "These aspects, along with the incredible people and places that Truman Scholars are introduced to, made the scholarship an opportunity I could not pass up."

Speer said she would like to work in education, preferably on the state level, helping develop and administer effective intervention models that would help schools improve the way they teach children.

Elizabeth S. Vardaman, Baylor's Truman representative and associate dean for special academic projects in the College of Arts and Sciences, said student applicants for this year's Truman went through a challenging vetting process in order to be endorsed by the university.

"Being selected as a finalist says a student has achieved high marks not only in academics, but also in leadership and public service. It also says that these students have the potential to contribute in exceptionally meaningful ways to the public good at home and abroad," Vardaman said. "It was a great joy to work with and know each of these capable young people. Their interests are diverse, but they share some common traits in that they are each passionate about their fields and determined to make a difference in their worlds."

The Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 in funding to students pursuing graduate degrees in public service fields. The Foundation also provides assistance with career counseling, internship placement, graduate school admissions and professional development. Scholars are invited to participate in a number of programs: Truman Scholar Leadership Week, The Summer Institute and The Truman-Albright Fellows Program.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the nation's 33rd President. The Foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the Foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. More than 2,500 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.

Baylor has had four Truman Scholars during this decade and eight overall since the program began in 1977. The most recent Baylor Truman Scholars are Kenneth Ike in 2007, Kristin Kan in 2004, John Hill in 2003 and Skye Perryman in 2002. (Read an article in the Spring 2010 edition of Baylor Magazine in which winners of some of the world's most prestigious scholarships tell how their education and experiences at Baylor launched adventures that took these graduates far, far from Waco.)

For more information about other scholarships, contact Baylor's Office of National and International Scholarships.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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