Caring and committed: MSU’s newest Truman Scholarship finalist has heart for service
Contact: Sasha Steinberg
A student pursuing two degrees in Mississippi State University’s College of Arts and Sciences is a finalist for the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
Stephanie J. Durr of Shreveport, Louisiana, a senior political science/pre-law and sociology double major, recently interviewed in Austin, Texas, in hopes of becoming the university’s 19th student to receive the highly coveted award.
“The preparation process and actual interview were intense, but great experiences,” Durr said. “It was a fun time interacting with the other finalists. They are interesting people, and it was cool to hear about their passions and what they are working toward.”
Before coming to MSU as a G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Presidential Scholarship recipient, Durr established “Saving Silhouettes,” an organization devoted to raising awareness of human trafficking in her hometown. With help from community volunteers, Durr and her sister used donated T-shirts to braid and sew headbands. Proceeds from headband sales went to “Purchased: Not For Sale,” a part of “The Hub Urban Ministries” organization also working to help victims of human trafficking in northwest Louisiana.
Durr said “Saving Silhouettes” became a registered student organization in 2016 and currently has more than 50 members. Along with developing “Saving Silhouettes” into a successful nonprofit, she aspires to attend law school and become an international human rights attorney working to end modern-day slavery.
“To be that someone in the courtroom who can fight for human trafficking victims so they don’t feel invisible or lost in the criminal justice system is something I would love to do,” she emphasized.
Tommy Anderson, director of the MSU Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships, praised Durr as “the rarest of students” with “an abiding faith in people and politics.”
“Stephanie understands how meaningful change requires deep empathy for those damaged by forces beyond their control, as well as a deep commitment to making politics more responsive to all of its citizens,” said Anderson, who also serves as an English professor and the College of Arts and Sciences’ interim assistant dean.
Established in 1975, the Washington, D.C.-based Truman Scholarship Foundation serves as a living memorial to the nation’s 33rd president. Each year, the Truman Scholarship provides $30,000 in graduate-study expenses for 55 to 65 students committed to public service after completing their degrees.
This year, the Truman Foundation reviewed 756 student files from 313 institutions and selected 194 finalists from 134 institutions based on records of leadership, public service and academic achievement. Following interviews by the foundation’s regional review panels, the 2018 Truman Scholars class will be announced in late April. For more, visit www.truman.gov.
Learn more about MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College at www.honors.msstate.edu; the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science and Public Administration, at www.pspa.msstate.edu, and Department of Sociology, at www.sociology.msstate.edu.