JANS – Jackson State University political science major Maisie Brown has been named a Truman Scholar, the first in the university’s history. The senior is one of 62 new Truman Scholars selected from 705 candidates nominated by 275 colleges and universities. Brown was one of only three HBCU student finalists up for the award.
“It is such a surreal feeling to receive this scholarship because I suffered from imposter syndrome and almost dissuaded myself from applying. I hope this shows Jackson State students and other HBCU students that we are just as well equipped and capable of receiving the same honors as everyone else. I hope to help other students who wish to apply and encourage them to step out on faith. Just do it,” said Brown, whose grassroots advocacy has been recognized by BET, CNN, Morning Joe, MSNBC, Essence, and more.
Brown was surprised by the news from JSU Acting President Elayne H. Anthony, Ph.D., while surrounded by JSU administrators.
“What we wanted to do as a ‘Thee I Love’ family was to tell you that you have been awarded the Truman Scholarship,” Anthony informed Brown in the president’s conference room.
Brown said she was overwhelmed and excited to learn she was a recipient. “Oh my gosh. My nerves have been so bad about it. I’ve been checking my email every day,” she said.
The Truman Scholarship will help financially support the post-graduate academic endeavors of those in public service leadership. To continue her higher education journey, Brown has her sights on Georgetown University due to their transformational education master’s program.
“I’m really interested in the intersection between social justice, education, and policy. That’s my top choice right now, but I’m going to see…where the money resides, I guess,” she said before laughing.
Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Bessie House-Soremekum, Ph.D., said she is absolutely pleased that Brown is now a Truman Scholar.
“This is the first time we have had this happen at Jackson State University. I am thrilled that you are a student in the College of Liberal Arts, one of the leading colleges on the campus,” said Soremekum. “You exemplify so many good things that our students should look up to. You are a sterling scholar, and you have been able to succeed despite the odds that you have faced.”
Anthony shared that she hopes Brown’s achievement will entice other students to look at scholarship opportunities such as Truman and for others to know what JSU students are all about.
Mother to a one-year-old daughter, Brown is setting the standard on how to balance life, service, and academia. In addition to her co-curricular activities, Brown holds a 3.5 GPA.
Political Science Professor D’Andra Orey, Ph.D., has been one of her biggest supporters. He acknowledges the servant’s heart that Brown has personified since she was a Jackson Public School youth.
“Maisie has been on the ground working all her life. From helping to organize the second-largest civil rights protest in Mississippi’s history as a high school student to being the public face of the Jackson water crisis, she has managed to do all of this while at the same time excelling in academics. She is the epitome of what this scholarship embodies,” said Orey.
Director of Honors Student Services and Activities Pamala Heard, Ph.D., echoes Orey’s sentiments. The director encouraged Brown to apply and complete the intense Truman Scholar application and vetting process.
“I am so proud of Maisie. She is a fantastic student that accepted the challenge and received the award. She is a history maker, the first finalist for the Truman Scholarship from Jackson State University, and the first Truman Scholarship recipient from Jackson State University. She is an example of what students can do if given an opportunity,” said Heard.
Established by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Harry S. Truman and national monument to public service, the Truman Scholarship carries the legacy of the 33rd President by supporting and inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. When approached by a bipartisan group of admirers near the end of his life, President Truman embodied this commitment to the future of public service by asking Congress to create a living memorial devoted to this purpose rather than a traditional brick-and-mortar monument. The Truman Foundation has fulfilled that mission for over forty years: inspiring and supporting Americans from diverse backgrounds to public service.