Scholarship Finalists

Two Mizzou students prepare to interview for Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

Maria Kalaitzandonakes
Maria Kalaitzandonakes has found value in the process of applying for the Truman Scholarship.

The University of Missouri has developed a tradition of success when it comes to the Truman Scholarship. Last year, Emily Waggoner was selected for the award becoming the 16th Truman Scholar from Mizzou since 1987.

Mizzou has also had numerous finalists and that list continues to grow as two MU juniors—Maria Kalaitzandonakes and Kate Hargis—have been selected as finalists for the 2016 Truman Scholarship.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation is a highly prestigious foundation and nationally competitive scholarship that supports students dedicated to public service. Selections for the Truman Scholarship are chosen on the basis of their academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders.

Mizzou’s pair of finalists will travel to Kansas City for their final interview in mid-March.

The process began with students first being nominated by their school, before submitting their applications that included multiple essays, recommendation forms and a policy proposal, among other items.

Kalaitzandonakes, who is a double major in agricultural economics and science agricultural journalism, says the application process was grueling. “There were a lot of times,” she says, “that I thought, ‘I’m taking 18 credit hours, I have two jobs. Is this really what I need to be doing?’”

Kate Hargis
Junior Kate Hargis is one of 197 students nationally selected as a Truman Scholar Finalist.

Hargis, a political science major with minors in mathematics and religious studies, echoes those thoughts.

“There were days where I thought it was never going to end, and I was up at odd hours of the night racking my brain and my research for inspiration that would help me get through it.”

Despite the intense process and the hours spent writing and rewriting essays, both say it was well worth the effort.

“Every time I did sit down and tried to tell my own story, I found it really beneficial and I was glad I was doing it,” Kalaitzandonakes says.

“I understand so much more about my subject,” Hargis adds. “It helped me understand how to reach my career aspirations.”

Kalaitzandonakes and Hargis were two of the 775 applicants from around the county and are among 197 finalists. They will interview in Kansas City on March 14, along with three other finalists from the State of Missouri, in the hopes of being selected as one of the recipients of the Truman Scholarship.

Both are preparing for the fast-approaching interviews by reviewing potential questions, reading tips from the Truman Foundation, speaking with former Truman finalists and studying their policies.

Kalaitzandonakes’ policy relates to hunger and food security, while Hargis’ focuses on immigrant and refugee policy reform.

The Foundation typically selects one student from each state or territory for the $30,000 scholarship, though it may select two from a state if the students are equally worthy. The scholarship money, which is to be used for graduate school, supports students as they further pursue their education and career paths in public service.

Regardless of the results, Hargis says the process has all already been worth it.

“I now have an idea of the path I will follow, even if I don’t end up getting the scholarship,” she says. “The scholarship has not only given me the opportunity to explore my passion for public service, but it also has surrounded me with others, including my fellow Mizzou applicants, who are just as passionate about public service. To me, that is such a great thing to experience.”