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Two University of Missouri Students Named Truman Scholars

Students will receive $30,000 scholarship for graduate school

March 25, 2008

Story Contact:  Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­—University of Missouri juniors Jennifer Kimball and Laura Merritt have been recognized  as future "change-agents" and named Truman Scholars. The scholarship is highly selective and given to approximately 65 college juniors across the nation who have a strong record of leadership and public service. In addition to a $30,000 scholarship for graduate study, Kimball and Merritt will receive priority admission and financial aid at top graduate institutions across the country and opportunities for summer internships in Washington, D.C.           

"The Truman Scholarship is one of the most competitive and prestigious of the national fellowships," said Vicky Riback Wilson, service-learning and fellowships coordinator. "Chosen from among the most accomplished students throughout the nation, Truman Scholars are expected to be change-agents for their communities and the country."

Merritt is majoring in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in health and political science. She is the founder of "I Am," a not-for-profit organization that promotes public education, voter participation and government support of stem cell research. She also is a member of the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women, a leadership and networking organization for MU alumnae and students. She is an Alumni Association Student Board member and an Honors College ambassador.

According to one individual who commented in her application, "Laura Merritt is a person of conviction and views that are important to her. At the same time, she values free expression for all and respects others' right to hold different views - even as she seeks to persuade them of the merits of her own."

"It's my honor to represent Mizzou in this way," Merritt said. "It's clear that this is a reflection of the opportunities that I've had at this university."            

Kimball is majoring in women and gender studies with a minor in leadership and public service and plans to attend graduate school to study women's and gender studies and public policy. She is the co-founder and president of Stop Traffic, an anti-human trafficking organization; director of the KOPN Reel-to-Reel Project; president of Students as Neighbors; and president of the women and gender studies undergraduate student group.

According to one individual who commented in her application, "Jennifer Kimball’s commitment to leadership and community engagement is found in every aspect of her life, from her academic efforts to her personal passions. Her organizational savvy allows her to reach audiences in new and innovative ways."

"Applying for the Truman was an incredible experience, and I am both honored and humbled to be named as a scholar," Kimball said. "I am immensely grateful for everything Mizzou has done to help me along the way. This will allow me to continue the work I have begun during my time at this university."

Established by Congress in 1975 as a federal memorial to the 33rd president, the Truman Scholar Foundation presents scholarships to college students who plan to attend graduate school in order to prepare for careers in government or public service. Recipients of the award must be U.S. citizens and have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills. They also must rank in the top quarter of their class and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.