A Mississippi State University senior has earned the nation’s most prestigious scholarship for students dedicated to public service.
Natalie M. Jones, an English and sociology double major from Flowood, is one of 54 students nationwide to be named a 2016 Harry S. Truman Scholar and the only one from Mississippi. She will receive her award in a ceremony May 29 at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.
Recipients of the Truman award receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for
careers in public service leadership. Jones is the 18th MSU student to earn the Truman Scholarship.
“Natalie’s journey through Mississippi State has been a real pleasure to observe,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “Natalie has a keen sense of confidence that is contagious among her fellow students. In all things during her MSU career, Natalie has exuded excellence and attaining this very impressive status as a Truman Scholar is a continuation of that amazing trajectory. Rhonda and I are extremely proud of her and offer our very sincere congratulations.”
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to the nation’s 33rd President. Annually, candidates for the Truman Scholarship go through a rigorous, multi-stage selection process.
This year, there were 775 candidates for the award nominated by 305 colleges and universities, a record number of applications and institutions. The 200 finalists for the award were interviewed in March and early April at one of 16 regional selection panels. Jones completed her interview March 29 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The inaugural recipient of the Dr. Brad Roderick Moore Memorial Presidential Endowed Scholarship at MSU and a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, Jones is a member of the MSU Student Association’s Executive Council, Roadrunners student recruiting group, a member of the Dean of Arts and Sciences Student Advisory Council and a leader in the Society of African American Studies.
She also is a member of the Shackouls Diversity Task Force.
“I’m very proud of Natalie,” said Chris Snyder, professor and dean for the honor’s college. “I first met her when she was in high school interviewing for a Presidential Scholarship. She has great charisma and great potential that was apparent even then.”
Following her undergraduate studies, Jones said she will seek a law degree, as well as a master’s in public policy. She plans to dedicate her career to helping dismantle institutional and systemic injustices in society.
Snyder said he believes Jones will be equal to the task.
“I think Natalie will accomplish whatever she puts her mind to,” Snyder said. “As a Truman Scholar, she will learn how to be an agent of change. But you can’t teach commitment, and she’s had that from the beginning.”
Thomas Anderson, an associate professor of English in the honors college who mentors all of MSU’s presidential scholars, also helped Jones through the Truman application process. He said Jones’ success as a Truman Scholar is a reminder that the university serves as an incubator for remarkable students who are developing the skills to effect change in their communities and nation.
“Natalie is already pushing ahead on issues that matter to her and that matter to citizens of Mississippi,” Anderson said. “She will always combine activism for fair and equitable reform with a keen intellect and concern for citizens left behind. Natalie wants to be a lawyer who empowers local communities to grow and prosper, and the Truman Scholarship makes it more likely that her dreams will become a reality.”