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MU Undergraduate Earns 2016 Truman Scholarship


Pictured, left to right: Tim Parshall, Director of the Fellowship Office; Kalaitzandonakes; Garnett Stokes, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Tom Payne, CAFNR Vice Chancellor and Dean.

MU undergraduate Maria Kalaitzandonakes named one of 60 Truman Scholars nationwide.

Prior to Tuesday, Maria Kalaitzandonakes, a junior at MU, double majoring in agricultural economics and science and agricultural journalism, was a hopeful finalist for the 2016 Truman Scholarship. Under the guise of a Tuesday morning meeting with Bryan Garton, the associate dean and director of academic programs at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, she found out she had received one of the coveted scholarships.

“I was so surprised,” Kalaitzandonakes said. “I’ve been so busy. I have a lot of tests coming up, so I went to Starbucks at 6 this morning to study. I came over here, and I felt like something was up. I had no clue what was going on."

The Truman Scholarship is awarded to successful and motivated collegiate juniors who are not only leaders, but also individuals who are devoted to improving the world by helping others. The scholarship, in an amount up to $30,000, can be applied toward graduate studies in numerous fields.

Kalaitzandonakes is part of a Facebook group with the other finalists from the Kansas City interviews. Several of those members had been receiving emails that they had not been selected as a Truman Scholar. She hadn’t received anything.

“This waiting process has been the worst,” she said. “I was just panicking because I hadn’t received an email. (Monday), I refreshed my email probably 200 times. No one emailed me. I called my mom and she thought that not receiving an email was probably a good sign. I didn’t think so. I emailed Tim because I’m impatient. I just asked if he knew what was going on. He didn’t email me back – so I figured he knew and he wasn’t going to tell me.”

Kalaitzandonakes was relieved to hear the news – especially in such a fun manner.

“I’m insanely surprised and insanely excited,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”

The Truman Scholarship was created in 1975 by Congress as a memorial to Harry S. Truman. It is awarded to around 60 collegiate juniors each year. It is open to U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals from the Pacific Islands. In 2016, there were 775 files reviewed from 305 institutions. Kalaitzandonakes was one of 197 finalists and one of five from Missouri.


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About this Story

Campus: UMC
Key words: Agriculture, Competitiveness, MU Campus, UM System,
County: Boone