Four juniors advance as finalists for Truman Scholarships

Thu, 04/03/2014


Gavin Young
KU Office of Public Affairs

LAWRENCE — Each of the four juniors nominated by the University of Kansas for 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholarships has been selected as a finalist for the up-to $30,000 scholarships. Each will interview with the Foundation’s Regional Review Panel on Monday, April 7, in Kansas City, Mo. The Foundation reviewed 655 students and selected 204 students from 138 institutions as finalists.

Finalists were selected based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement. The four juniors are members of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program:

  • Emma Halling, a junior from Elkhart, Ind., majoring in American studies and women, gender & sexuality studies
  • Virginia Helgeson, a junior from Olathe majoring in social welfare and religious studies
  • Leigh Loving, a junior from McPherson majoring in genetics
  • Micah Melia, a junior from Prairie Village majoring in anthropology

“These four students embody the commitment among all of KU’s undergraduates to service, to building strong communities and to working together to solve problems,” said Jonathan Earle, professor of history and director of the University Honors Program. “Through the Honors Program, we assist these students in translating that passion for service and education into future leadership. We are excited about their continued success.” 

Since 1981, 17 KU students have become Truman scholars, including Hannah Sitz, who became a scholar last year. The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd U.S. president. Truman Scholar nominees are supported by the nationally recognized University Honors Program.

“To have all four nominees be named finalists is a great achievement for our students,” said Anne Wallen, coordinator for national scholarships and fellowships with the University Honors Program. “It is a tribute to the strong academic careers of our students, but also to the strength of KU’s mission of educating leaders. These four are outstanding representatives of all of our undergraduate students.”

Regional interviews occur between March 6 and April 11, and all winners will be announced Wednesday, April 16. Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class, and be committed to careers in government or the nonprofit sector.

More information about KU’s nominees:

Emma Halling is the daughter of Greg Halling and Patricia Latshaw Halling from Elkhart Ind. She attended school in Hutchinson before moving to Indiana, where she graduated from Marian High School in Mishawaka, Ind. She is current student body vice president of KU and a member of the University Honors Program. Halling is double-majoring in American studies and women, gender & sexuality studies, and she is pursuing two minors in policy studies and economics.

Virginia “Ginny” Helgeson is the daughter of Douglas and Donna Helgeson of Olathe, where she attended Olathe South High School. She is president of the Ecumenical Campus Ministry’s Sexuality Education Committee and a member of the University Honors program. Ginny is double-majoring in social welfare and religious studies.

Leigh Loving is the daughter of James and Dawn Loving; Mendota Heights, Minn. Originally from McPherson, she is a graduate of McPherson High School. At KU Loving founded the Jayhawk Health Initiative, a pre-health service learning organization, and is a member of the University Honors Program. She is pursuing a major in genetics.

Micah Melia is the daughter of Tom and Anne Melia of Prairie Village, where she graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School. Melia is a member of the University Honors Program and has been development director for the Center for Community Outreach and currently serves as a program coordinator in the organization. She is majoring in anthropology and minoring in psychology.

How do you explore KU? Senior Dylan Fehl kicks up his feet and enjoys the shade outside Watson Library, unwinding and admiring the campus. He says it's key to balance long hours in the library with fun and relaxation. Even as a senior, Fehl says he is still discovering new and useful spots and resources on campus. Exploring KU is important to him because it opens up new doors. Fehl, from Hutchinson, Kansas, is studying for a double major in philosophy and history with a minor in leadership studies. During his time at this unique university – with its positive attitudes, friendliness and a place to call home – Fehl said KU has truly set him free. Tags: University of Kansas Libraries #exploreKU #KUcampus #KUdifference

Boy with autism benefits from KU student’s undergraduate research Two-year-old Mark’s first haircut in a salon was pretty traumatic. He screamed. He cried. His dad had to restrain him – Mark has autism and a haircut wasn’t part of his routine. But there’s a happy ending. The experience led KU senior Kristin Miller to seek an Undergraduate Research Award (see to develop ways for children with developmental disabilities like Mark to learn how to accept routine health care treatment, such as going to the dentist — or even getting a buzz cut. Watch the video to see why it has been especially rewarding for Miller to help children like Mark.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
1 of 9 public universities with outstanding study abroad programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
$260.5 million in externally funded research expenditures
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times