Gavin Young
KU Office of Public Affairs

Four juniors advance as finalists for Truman Scholarships

Thu, 04/03/2014

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.

Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

#KUfacts : There are 30+ tenant companies in the Bioscience & Technology Business Center at KU. #growKS
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (, associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

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