Truman Scholarship*

Initial Bowdoin Deadline: November 14, 2014 (noon)
Campus Interview: November 21, 2014
Bowdoin Final Deadline: January 29, 2015 (noon)
Web site: www.truman.gov
Campus Contact: Cindy Stocks, Director of Student Fellowships and Research


*Information derived from www.truman.gov

Description. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation is the federal memorial to our thirty-third President. The mission of the Truman Scholarship Foundation is: (1) to find and recognize 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; and (2) to provide them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service. The Truman funds a variety of degrees in a number of disciplines. Priority is given not to degrees, but to those candidates who can demonstrate a strong likelihood of a career in the public sector and a desire to be a change agent. The Foundation defines public service as employment in government at any level, uniformed services, public-interest organizations, nongovernmental research and/or educational organizations, public and private schools, and public service-oriented nonprofit organizations such as those whose primary purposes are to help needy or disadvantaged persons or to protect the environment. 

The Truman is a very competitive national scholarship. Each year, the Foundation reviews over 600 applications for the 60 to 65 Scholarships awarded annually. These 600 applications do not include the students who compete on their own campus for one of a school's four nominations.

Benefits. The Foundation provides:

  • Up to $30,000 in support for graduate studies toward a public service-related degree. The Foundation has supported Truman Scholars in many fields of study, including agriculture, biology, engineering, environmental management, physical and social sciences, and technology policy, as well as traditional fields such as economics, education, government, history, international relations, law, political science, public administration, nonprofit management, public health, and public policy;
  • Truman Scholars Leadership Week. This event, held at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, introduces new Scholars to the services provided by the Foundation and the many pathways to public service.  Scholars participate in seminars and workshops with distinguished Truman alumni and other public service leaders, a policy analysis project, a graduate school and career fair with representatives from the schools and programs most attended by Truman Scholars, and community service events in the Kansas City area.  This event is mandatory for all students selected as Truman Scholars;
  • Summer Institute. Immediately after college graduation, Scholars have the opportunity to participate in a ten-week long Summer Institute in Washington, DC.  The Foundation arranges (paid) internships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, seminars and workshops, meetings with Washington policymakers and Truman alumni, and opportunities for community building among Scholars;
  • Truman Fellows Program. After Summer Institute, Scholars may elect to stay on in Washington, DC for a full year in the Truman Fellows Program.  Scholars are placed in public service jobs – most with the federal government – while participating in a graduate level public policy course, mentoring opportunities, and a community service program.
  • Scholars are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of a Foundation funded graduate degree program as a condition of receiving funding.

Eligibility. Each nominee for the Truman Scholarship must be:

  • nominated by their current institution of higher education or by their two-year institution if they are transfer students from community colleges or junior colleges. Applications are not accepted directly from candidates.
  • a full-time junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree during the 2014-2015 academic year. “Junior” here means a student who plans to continue full-time undergraduate study and who expects to receive a baccalaureate degree between December 2015 and August 2016 or a student in his or her second or third year of collegiate study who expects to graduate during the 2014-2015 academic year; or a senior-level student who is a resident of Puerto Rico or the Islands.
  • in the upper quarter of his or her class, and
  • an United States citizen or a United States national from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Resident aliens (green card holders) are not eligible.

A good candidate for the Truman Scholarship meets the above eligibility requirements and also:

  • has an extensive record of public and community service;
  • has outstanding leadership potential and communication skills; and
  • is committed to a career in government or elsewhere in public service, as defined by the Foundation.

The Foundation defines public service as employment in government at any level, uniformed services, public-interest organizations, nongovernmental research and/or educational organizations, public and private schools, and public service-oriented nonprofit organizations such as those whose primary purposes are to help needy or disadvantaged persons or to protect the environment.

Service Requirement. All candidates should be aware that the Truman Scholarship has a service requirement. Scholars are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of a Foundation funded graduate degree program as a condition of receiving funding.  Scholars who are not employed in public service for a total of three years, or who fail to provide proof to the Foundation of such employment, will be required to repay any funds received along with interest.  The Foundation will have an appeals process for those Scholars in special circumstances.

Bowdoin’s Internal Selection Process. Interested students should contact Cindy Stocks in the Office of Student Fellowships and Research and request that they be registered in the Truman online system. Once registration is complete, students will receive an email with log-in instructions.

The College is allowed to nominate up to four Bowdoin students annually for the Truman Scholarship. The Selection Committee will review the materials listed below, and those applicants deemed competitive will be scheduled for an interview. To be considered, applicants must submit the following materials to the Office of Student Fellowships and Research by the “Initial Bowdoin Deadline” (see above). Based on these materials and the interviews, the Committee will decide which students will receive Bowdoin’s nomination.

  • Printout of completed questions 1 – 14 of the online Truman application
  • Policy proposal (approximately 500 words)
  • Unofficial academic history from Polaris
  • Signed and witnessed "Permission Form and Waiver"

The four items listed above can be either hand-delivered to Corey Colwill in 113 Kanbar Hall or electronically submitted as PDFs to Corey Colwill (ccolwill@bowdoin.edu).

  • One draft letter of recommendation that confirms and elaborates on the leadership example the candidate described in item 7 on the application. The recommender should address the candidate’s personal characteristics (confidence, persuasiveness, diligence, conviction, vitality, poise, and so forth) which the recommender believes contributes to the candidate’s leadership abilities. Recommenders can either email letters directly to Corey Colwill or give them to the student in a sealed envelope, in which case the student is responsible for delivering the unopened letter to Student Fellowships and Research by the "Initial Bowdoin Deadline."  Note, if a candidate is selected as one of Bowdoin's four finalists, the recommender of this "leadership letter" will have an opportunity to revise it before the final Bowdoin deadline.  Two additional letters of recommendation will be required by the final Bowdoin deadline:  one letter writer should address the applicant's "intellect and prospects for continuing academic success and the second letter writer should focus on the applicant's "commitment to public service."

Materials for the Final Application. Bowdoin can nominate up to four students. If you receive Bowdoin’s nomination, it is your responsibility to continue revising and collecting your materials. By the Final Bowdoin Deadline:

  • The nominee must electronically submit a completed application form, which includes:
    • questions 1 - 14
    • policy proposal (approximately 500 words)
    • official transcript
    • three letters of recommendation
  • The Office of Student Fellowships and Research will be responsible for:
    • confirming your eligibility in the online system
    • electronically submitting the Institution Nomination Form

More about the Selection Process. Mid-February, the Foundation will post a list of finalists on their website. Approximately 200 finalists will be interviewed in various locations around the country throughout March. Names of the 60 to 65 selected Truman Scholars will be posted on the Foundation’s website by the end of March.

hannah sherman

Hannah Sherman '15
A government and legal studies and Spanish major, Hannah is committed to empowering women in Latin America through microfinance. A variety of past experiences led her to this focus, most notably spending the summer and fall of 2013 in Guatemala volunteering at EDELAC, an organization that runs a primary school and home for motivated students living in extreme poverty, where she taught and helped to strengthen the organization’s infrastructure. Supported by her Truman Scholarship, Hannah intends to pursue an MBA and an MA in international studies.

Lonnie HackettLonnie Hackett '14
Lonnie is majoring in biochemistry at Bowdoin.  His steadfast interest in serving the underprivileged has led him to volunteer in Zambia and Nepal.  In Zambia, he organized health education lessons for orphans and vulnerable children and has since developed a program providing health services to over 500 children.  While in Nepal, Lonnie volunteered in rural health clinics and conducted an independent research project aimed at improving healthcare utilization in developing countries.  The Truman Scholarship provides leadership training, funds a D.C. internship, and grants up to $30,000 toward graduate school. After earning an M.D./M.P.H., Lonnie plans to practice medicine abroad and work on global health policy in order to improve healthcare in developing countries. (Read More)