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Commitment to public service earns Statistics junior prestigious Truman Scholarship


The Harry S. Truman Foundation has named Purdue University junior Mikaela Meyer a 2017 Truman Scholar. She is the first Boilermaker to earn the highly competitive federal scholarship, which recognizes demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to public service. 

Mikaela Meyer
Mikaela Meyer

The Valparaiso, Indiana, native passed through a rigorous, multi-stage selection process to receive the award. Meyer is one of just 62 Truman Scholars selected nationally from a record number of participating institutions. She will receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help her prepare for a career in public service leadership.

“I was incredibly honored and surprised,” Meyer stated. “Honestly, it all still feels pretty surreal. I immediately called my parents to tell them the news, and my friends were just as excited to hear the news as I was. It's crazy to think that I'm the first Truman Scholar at Purdue, but I'm excited to represent our university through such a well-recognized program. I hope that I'm the first of many Truman Scholars to come from Purdue.” 

Meyer is studying Mathematical Statistics and pursuing a minor in political science.  She is also an active member of the Purdue Honors College. After graduation, Meyer hopes to work for the federal government, using statistics to inform public policy. She would like to assist in adapting regulations to better fit the evolving needs of the American people.

“It strikes me that Mikaela Meyer is exactly the type of excellent student and accomplished young leader we want to attract to public service,” Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute Laurel Weldon said.  “Thank goodness for the country that she is so interested in public service.”

Meyer is a policy fellow with the Purdue Policy Research Institute. Together with other fellows, she is measuring the progress of states toward “NetZero” energy status and has assisted in researching and writing a policy brief on drone technology.

Earlier this year, Meyer was named top speaker at the Indiana State Parliamentary Debate Competition and placed third overall with her partner.  She held the state title her freshman and sophomore years. Meyer is also president of the Purdue College Democrats.

Meyer will receive her award with the other Truman Scholars in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on May 28.  During her scholarship journey, she found support from Purdue’s National and International Scholarships Office, housed in Purdue’s Honors College. NISO develops student-scholars’ skills as they prepare their applications.

“The application process was very challenging,” Meyer recalled, “but even if I didn't win, it still would have been worth it. Over the last few months, I feel like I learned a lot about how I define success and what I want to do with my future. Preparing for the interview was also a unique process; I couldn't prepare for it in the same way I would have prepared for a job interview.

“I would advise anyone who is interested to not let anything or anyone hold them back from applying. The preparation processes themselves are very worthwhile. … I have countless people to thank for their support throughout this process, and I feel lucky to have them all in my life.”

Statistics professor Mark Ward taught Meyer and was immediately impressed with her work and passion for statistics and policy.

“Mikaela has tremendous potential to be a leader at the crossroads of statistics and public service,” Ward said. “She is excellent in every regard: in her research investigations, in her leadership for the College Democrats and in her academic performance throughout her time at Purdue.”  

Meyer is still researching graduate schools for their statistics and public policy programs, but she sees University of Chicago as an early, top contender.

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