McKneight first from Purdue to be a Truman Scholarship finalist

March 29, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Molly McKneight, a junior studying food science, has been selected as a finalist for the Truman Scholarship, a $30,000 award for graduate study given to college juniors on the basis of their academic and leadership accomplishments and their likelihood of a career in public service.

McKneight is the first Purdue student ever to make it to the Truman Scholarship's final selection round, said Veronica Schirm, director of the National and International Scholarships Office in the university's Honors College.

McKneight, a University Honors Program student and Honors College mentor who is currently studying abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, plans to pursue a doctorate in plant science. She also is a Dean's Scholar and ambassador in the College of Agriculture.

McKneight of Carmel, Ind., hopes to use her science education to affect government policy.

 "I would like to be involved with the intersection of science and policy," she said. "If I could be a scientist who could provide expertise and advice to policymakers, that would be great. I would like to apply science to help the problems of the world, particularly food security and hunger."

Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president. The foundation awards 55-65 scholarships annually for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service, the foundation's website says.

The application process involves a series of short essays, three letters of recommendation and a one- to two-page policy proposal. A campus committee reviews all applicants and determines which ones are nominated for the national competition. This year 629 students from 593 colleges and universities applied. That was narrowed to 199 finalists from 136 institutions.

The 2013 Truman Scholarship winners will be announced April 11.

"The Truman Scholarship has been just an incredible process," McKneight said. "I have learned so much by just participating in this."

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711,

Sources: Molly McKneight,

Veronica Schirm, director of the National and International Scholarships Office in the Honors College, 765-494-1727,

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