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Undergrad Fellows Sam Franks and Emily Waggoner Named as Truman Finalists

The Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy is extremely pleased to announce that two members of its undergraduate Society of Fellows, Samantha Franks and Emily Waggoner, were recently named finalists for the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The Truman Scholarship, awarded each year to 55-65 students who demonstrate exceptional academic promise and civic engagement, is devoted to supporting the graduate education and professional development of young people who are committed to pursuing a career in public service administration. In addition to providing aid for graduate school, the Truman Foundation brings scholarship recipients to Washington, DC, for up to two years after they complete their undergraduate studies, placing them in positions with the federal government or with nationally focused nonprofit organizations.

Franks, a junior from Nixa, MO, who plans to pursue a career in public law after graduating in May 2016, said she was drawn to the Truman Scholarship because of “the network it provides” recipients. “Being part of a group of people dedicated to progress, with a lot of energy and a lot of ambition, is really appealing to me,” she added. The policy proposal that she submitted as part of her Truman Scholarship application addressed the need to introduce sexual assault prevention education at the high school level. In it, she not only developed an alternative to the curriculum currently in place in Missouri high schools, which mandates that teachers cover only STI and STD prevention, but also outlined a strategy for ushering her proposal through the conservative Missouri legislature. A Political Science and English double major at MU and the daughter of Claudia and Kent Franks, Samantha’s scholarly work in the latter field focuses on the impact of literature on populations’ political views, and her thesis explores Shakespeare’s continuing influence on society. In addition, she’s currently assisting Prof. Nancy West with research on how literature, and specifically Masterpiece Theater, has strengthened the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. While much of her academic work in the Political Science department examines the treatment of women in zones of conflict, she also received a Fulbright to study the continuum between privateer ships and private military companies in Bristol, England, last summer, and she’s currently in the process of determining which topic she will pursue in her Poli Sci honors thesis.

Like Franks, Waggoner said that the opportunity to be a part of “a diverse community of change agents” drew her to the Truman Scholarship, noting that she “was amazed to find an academic scholarship that rewarded students not only for achieving academic success, but also for substantively engaging in their community and developing their own path to improving public welfare.” In her policy proposal, Emily laid out a plan for increasing access to education about and treatment of eating disorders in the state of Missouri, where, she explained, insurance providers’ ability to set strict criteria for what is considered medically necessary treatment poses a significant health services problem. Her policy would address this problem both by requiring Missouri health insurance companies to cover comprehensive treatment of eating disorders and by requesting that the Missouri Eating Disorders Council be fully funded for the purpose of creating a middle and high school curriculum for eating disorder education. A junior Political Science major from Jefferson City, MO—and the daughter of University of Missouri alumni—Emily will graduate in May 2016, in time to work on political campaigns for the 2016 cycle. Her long-term plans involve pursuing a graduate degree and career in public policy, with a focus on mental health policy.