March 24, 2018  

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University of Southern Mississippi Junior Jack Hoda Named Truman Scholarship Finalist

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Jack Hoda

University of Southern Mississippi junior Jack Hoda, an English major from Petal, Miss., can add one more impressive honor to his already gleaming academic portfolio – Truman Scholarship finalist. Hoda is the only USM student to be nominated for the Truman Scholarship this year.

A brief recap of Hoda’s impressive list of achievements reads like a who’s-who of collegiate recognitions.

  • Member of the Honors College
  • Two-time winner of the Wallace Kay Scholarship (Honors College)
  • Luckyday Scholar (winner of the Luckyday Study Abroad Scholarship)
  • Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant winner (one of 25 awarded nationally)
  • Teacher Advisor for Rosedale Freedom Project in the Mississippi Delta
  • Selected for Harvard’s Public Policy and Leadership Conference

Hoda is one of 194 finalists selected from 756 nominated students. An anxious weekend of anticipation in late February turned into elation when Hoda learned that he had been named a Truman finalist.

“I had been watching the Truman Scholarship Twitter feed all weekend to see when my region would be released, and when I saw that e-mail come up with the word ‘Congratulations!’ I literally fell to the ground in tears,” said Hoda. “Then I Face-timed my mom to let her know. She was just as excited, of course.”

The Truman Scholarship is the most prestigious award a junior at an American college or university can receive. Named in honor of the late U.S. President Harry S. Truman, the scholarship is awarded to high-achieving college juniors who show commitment to public service and potential to continue that service beyond graduation. The scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study in public service fields and leadership training.

If selected for a Truman Scholarship, Hoda hopes to be placed at Teaching for Change for his Truman Summer Institute following graduation.

Since 2011 USM has produced three Truman Scholars and four additional finalists. Robyn Curtis, Director, Nationally Competitive Awards at USM has been mentoring Hoda through the application process. With assistance from USM faculty, Curtis has set up mock interviews through Skype as Hoda continues his Study Abroad semester in Exeter, England.

“Jack has a strong record of consistent meaningful community service and campus leadership which are two of the primary criteria for the Truman,” said Curtis. “He has worked very hard and thoughtfully on his materials, and I am very glad his mindful preparation is being recognized by his advancing to a finalist.”

Hoda will appear before the Truman Scholarship Foundation committee in the coming weeks to answer questions and present his qualifications for the award. Until then, he is doing as much preparatory work as time allows.

“I am mostly preparing by doing a lot of personal reflection on why I want to be a Truman Scholar, and why I am committed to a career in public service,” he said. “I am also keeping up with current legislation and debates relevant to my policy interests surrounding education and Mississippi politics.”

The 2018 class of Truman Scholars will be announced on April 18.

Hoda, a Petal High School graduate, is the son of Joey and Lynne Hoda, of Petal, Miss.