Four Minnesota college students are set to change the world. Or at least the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation thinks so.
Of the 62 Truman Scholars announced last week, four are studying in Minnesota. One of those grew up in Minneapolis.
The prestigious scholarship gives juniors up to $30,000 toward graduate school and priority admission at some of the country’s top universities. Truman Scholars are selected for their academic accomplishments “and their likelihood of becoming public service leaders,” the foundation said.
Winners say the process helps them sharpen their goals. Katrina Klett, a junior at the University of Minnesota, said that before, “the scale I thought I had an impact on was small ... helping this village, that village. I now think at a much more global scale.”
Read her story, plus those from the three other scholars:
University of Minn.
From: North Dakota
Major: Asian Languages and Literature
Growing up, Katrina Klett moved with the bees. Her parents’ work as migratory beekeepers brought them from North Dakota to Texas and back again, sometimes with a pit stop in California. Klett picked the University of Minnesota because of Prof. Marla Spivak, whose work as an entomologist earned her a MacArthur Fellowship, or “genius grant.” Klett knew Spivak before that prize, back when she helped Klett’s family breed their queen bees. Klett herself does not want to be an entomologist. Too much time in the lab. “I love the extension part,” she said. “Working with the beekeepers. Applying basic research to real-life problems.” Klett, 26, spent years in western China, teaching farmers to raise bees. “The whole point is for them to earn money without having to destroy their environment,” she said. “But I hope along the way, we’re all having a good time.” Klett plans to earn a master’s degree at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
Major: Linguistics, Media & Cultural Studies
As a high school student taking college courses, Andy Keefe taught English language learners in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, “an experience that really, really struck me,” he said. “I realized that whether or not you are fluent in English has a huge impact on your social mobility — the opportunities and options that are available to you.” After graduating from South High School, Keefe attended Northwestern University in Illinois for a year before transferring to Macalester in search of a campus more focused on social justice. His studies and internships have made him passionate about closing the achievement gap in city schools. Keefe, 21, plans to graduate a year early, teach Spanish for a year in St. Paul, then earn his Ph.D. in Race, Inequality and Language Education at Stanford University. “So much of what I can offer to this issue extends from the city and the school and the family that have raised me,” he said.
From: Sioux Falls, S. D.
Zach Avre majors in geography, with a minor in political science and a concentration in urban studies. That combination has given him a lens through which he can see “how policy, economics and geography condition factors that go on in cities.” A way to look at racial segregation, Avre said, or the foreclosure crisis. Avre’s passion is housing, and he is interested in exploring the ways organizations such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “which have a very negative connotation and image ... might be more responsive to the people they serve.” Avre plans to defer grad school for a year or two to work “at the ground level, with the people who rely upon those types of services ... so that if I’m a policymaker 10, 15 years down the line, I have that experience.”
College of St. Benedict
From: Humboldt, S.D.
Major: Political Science, History
Rachel Mullin’s father is a professor, so she grew up believing in “the power of education.” That tenet deepened in college, when she taught English to kindergartners and sixth-graders in rural China and volunteered at a city school. “The resource gap between the two schools was stark.” The rural classroom was packed, with used supplies, while the city school offered small class sizes and brand-new books. That and other international experiences have Mullin hoping to go into international development, with a focus on education. She hopes to earn a master’s degree at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. But first, she’s applying for the Peace Corps. “I want an opportunity to not delve straight back into education, to experience something outside of it,” Mullin said. Those years could challenge her plans, she said, “or they could strengthen that desire.”
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168