Polson named Kansas State University's 38th Truman scholar
MANHATTAN — Hattie Polson, junior in agricultural economics and global food systems leadership, Vermillion, is Kansas State University's 38th Harry S. Truman scholar.
The Truman scholarship is a highly competitive national award that provides up to $30,000 for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities in the federal government. Truman scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence.
According to the Truman Foundation, 62 scholarships were awarded this year from a candidate pool of 705 students nominated by 275 colleges and universities.
"As the university's newest Truman scholar, Hattie is continuing K-State's tradition of excellence and embodying our land-grant mission through her passion for public service and global development," said K-State President Richard Linton. "She is a promising future leader, and we are thrilled that she has received this well-deserved honor."
Polson, who is also earning a certificate in nonprofit leadership studies, plans to attend the 2024 Truman Foundation's Summer Institute program, where she will get hands-on experience working in public service through internships at government agencies and nonprofit organizations. She hopes to work for the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Agency for International Development in programming that promotes trade and resilient agriculture systems in developing nations.
"Through my global food systems leadership classes, I learned about adaptive problems like food security, sustainability, food waste, post-harvest loss and more," said Polson. "I immediately felt my heart connect with the farmer, but not just the ones that reminded me of my dad, farmers of all walks of life."
The Summer Institute program will also include seminars focused on national politics and policymaking, meetings with former Truman scholars and other prominent public servants, and scholar-led presentations.
Utilizing the scholarship, Polson hopes to attend Cornell University, where she wants to pursue a Master of Professional Studies in global development, specializing in international development economics and policy.
She wants to address the paradox in agricultural development that is demonstrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Polson, about 60% of the country's population is employed in agriculture, and about 60% of the population lives in poverty, which can also mean food insecurity.
"This means there is a large population in the world that is growing food, but yet, is hungry. This is the problem I want to dedicate my life toward," said Polson.
"I want to discover why inequities in our food system exist — specifically ones that occur at the expense of international farmers — and how we can change the system to resolve them. Food is a human right. Politics and international relations should not dictate the livelihood and nutrition of lives around the world, but they do. I want to be part of the effort to eradicate that."
At K-State, Polson holds leadership offices in several organizations, including student coordinator, Food Security Scholars; deputy attorney general, Student Governing Association; and director of retreats and team training, Blue Key Senior Honor Society. She is also a member of the Student Foundation and the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
Other awards Polson has received at K-State include the Chester E. Peters Student Development Award, the Robert Lewis Sophomore Leadership Award and the Duane and Shirley Acker International Scholar Award.
Polson is the daughter of Sharmon and John Polson and is a graduate of Frankfort High School.
K-State undergraduates who aspire to careers in public service and who are interested in competing for the Truman scholarship in a future application cycle are encouraged to contact Beth Powers in the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-532-3422.