News Details

March 09, 2017

Wasson Selected as Truman Scholarship Finalist

Will Wasson, a junior history and political science major and gender studies and Honors minor from Martinsburg, WV has been selected as a finalist for the 2017 Truman Scholarship.   Wasson is one of 199 finalists chosen from a pool of more than 750 applicants from 315 institutions. 

The Truman Scholarship is a highly-competitive, merit-based award offered to U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals from Pacific Islands who want to attend graduate school in preparation for a career in public service.  The scholarship offers recognition of outstanding potential as a leader in public service; affirmation of values and ideals; enhanced access to highly-competitive graduate institutions; access to scholar programs such as Truman Scholars Leadership Week, the Summer Institute, and carious Truman Fellows Programs; membership in a community of persons devoted to helping others and to improving the world; and up to $30,000 to apply toward graduate study in the U.S. or abroad in a wide variety of fields.

Wasson first became interested in the program while completing an internship in 2015.

“While I was an intern in Senator Manchin’s office in the summer of 2015, one of my fellow interns, who would soon become a good friend, was also a Truman Scholar,” Wasson said.  “She really set me on my path to this.  I knew that I wanted to be a public service leader, and I knew that getting the Truman Scholarship would be the first step.”

Students are nominated by their institutions in a process conducted by a Truman Scholarship Faculty Representative.  Applications, which included a policy proposal, nomination letter from the student’s institution, three letters of recommendation, and a transcript were due in early February. 

Truman scholars are persons who have been recognized by the Truman Scholarship Foundation as future “change agents.”  They have the passion, intellect, and leadership potential that in time should enable them to improve the ways that public entities – be they government agencies, nonprofit organizations, public and private educational institutions, or advocacy organizations- serve the public good.

“If I am selected to receive the Truman Scholarship, I will be very excited about the opportunity to meet more than fifty young change makers from around the country,” expressed Wasson.  “I am ready to have my beliefs and plans challenged.”

Guided by some noteworthy educators, Wasson credits his past successes to his teachers at Wesleyan.

“I would really like to thank Professor Tamara Bailey and Dr. John Saunders,” he said.  “Professor Bailey has helped me at every step of this process, and I could not have gotten to this point without her.  Dr. Saunders, though in retirement, has offered himself as a resource whenever I have needed his advice.”

Wasson is currently looking to apply to the University of Virginia dual degree program for both a master’s degree in American Legal History and a Juris Doctorate in Constitutional Law.  However, he mentioned he was also open to other institutions that would offer this same type of program.

Originally created as a trust agency, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation is the official federal memorial to the 33rd president.  The Foundation is a federal executive branch agency that administers the Truman Scholarship program.  The agency is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the President and Congress, endowed by a $55 million trust fund in the U.S. Treasury, and supported by a staff of five and more than 100 distinguished public servants and former Truman Scholars who participate in the selection process.

Wasson will be interviewed by the Foundation’s Regional Review Panel on April 5, with all other finalists interviewing between March 3 and April 7.  The 2017 Class of Truman Scholars, which will consist of 55-65 scholars, will be announced on April 21.


Cutline: Wasson pictured with (D) Senator Joe Manchin III toward the end of Wasson’s internship with Manchin’s D.C. office in the summer of 2015.

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