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With Her Service Goals at Top of Mind, Braelen Hunt Wins Prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship for Graduate Study


JONESBORO – In pursuit of her goal of promoting health and nutrition in rural communities, A-State junior Braelen Hunt has been named a 2018 winner of the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship, one of only 59 recipients nationally.

"We can't express in words how proud we are of you and your achievement," Chancellor Kelly Damphousse told Hunt when a group of faculty and friends surprised her in his office with the good news of her selection.  He said she is only the fourth student in Arkansas State University history to receive the honor.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to America's 33rd president, Harry S. Truman. The Foundation has a mission to select and support the next generation of public service leaders.

"This scholarship is a validation of all of the hard work that I've done for the last three years and all the work that I want to complete in the future," Hunt said after learning of her selection.  "I have so many aspirations and goals, and with the Truman Scholarship I feel so empowered to complete them."  She also expressed appreciation to her family, faculty and friends for their support and guidance.

Recipients of the Truman Scholarship 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.

After completing a degree in dietetics in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at A-State, the Honors College student plans to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in the field.  Her next goal is admission for graduate study at Johns Hopkins University Center for Human Nutrition. Hunt completed high school at Bergman, near Harrison in Boone County.

"It has been my honor to work with Braelen during the Truman Scholarship application and interview process.  She never fails to impress me with her intellectual insight and analytical ability," commented Jennifer Salo, A-State's coordinator for competitive fellowships and scholarships. "What stands out most about Braelen is her heart for serving others and making our campus a better place for everyone."

Annually, candidates for the Truman Scholarship go through a rigorous, multi-stage selection process.  This year 756 candidates for the award were nominated by 311 colleges and universities, a record number. 

Hunt and the other 193 finalists were interviewed in March and early April at one of 16 regional selection panels.  She and the other winners will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., Sunday, May 27.

Having personally witnessed the magnitude of food insecurity in the region, Hunt is planning a career working with welfare agencies to promote health and nutrition in rural communities. A student leader, she probably is best known at A-State as a voice for victims of sexual assault.

Hunt also has submitted policy proposals and worked closely with university administrators on sensitivity training for law enforcement and bystander intervention training for students. In her spare time, she is a freelance photographer who utilizes her skills and social media to promote the adoption of local shelter dogs and to bring attention to social issues in women’s and gender studies.

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