On April 14, the University of Mississippi juniors Jilkiah Bryant and Andy Flores received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, making state and university history as the first time two Truman Scholarships have ever been awarded to the same university in the state of Mississippi.
The University of Mississippi is among six universities nationwide to receive multiple awards, standing with Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the US Air Force Academy.
“Andy and Jilkiah have reached an elite pinnacle, and we’re proud of how they are making a difference through their scholarship, leadership and service,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “It is incredible to see how our supportive and invigorating campus environment fuels our students’ passions and prepares them to be competitive on a national stage.”
Created by Congress in 1975 as a memorial to President Harry S. Truman, the Truman Scholarship is the premiere scholarship for undergraduate students interested in pursuing graduate school and careers in public service. Recipients are decided based upon their dedication to serving their communities, leadership skills and exceptional academic performance.
The 16th and 17th Truman Scholars for the University of Mississippi, Bryant and Flores will each receive a $ 30,000 scholarship to pursue a public service-related graduate degree and have access to unique opportunities for government employment and internships.
“I am still in awe. I would even go as far to say speechless! Words cannot express the mixture of emotions I am experiencing from being selected as a Truman Scholar in 2022, ”Bryant said.
Majoring in public health in health sciences with minors in mathematics and African American studies, Bryant plans to allocate the scholarship towards a Master of Science in Public Health in Health Systems at John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. From the small town of Macon, Mississippi, Bryant wants to expand access to health care and health resources in rural Mississippi while addressing the systemic factors that contribute to unequal health outcomes.
“In my small town, I found that there is more to health than what can be read on a scan or seen in an operating room. I saw that it’s more than just physical being, but mental and social circumstances. It’s where I learned the meaning of underserved. My community showed me that I want to advocate for the underprivileged and serve the underserved, ”Bryant said.
From Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Flores is a proud first-generation college student and double major in public policy leadership and philosophy.
“No award or scholarship has ever represented me or what I want to do as much as the Truman Scholarship, so it’s the honor of my life to be named a Truman Scholar,” Flores said.
Influenced by his family’s background as a working class Mexican / Afro-Panamanians, Flores is dedicated to ensuring equal access to high-quality education for all Mississippians and uplifting marginalized communities.
“I’ve always felt that my purpose was to unite people and provide others with the compassion and resources I wished my family could have received when I was younger,” he said.
Flores serves in several leadership roles on campus: as president of the First-Generation Student Network, chair of the Lott Leadership Institute and Principal of Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement of the Associated Student Body. Flores also founded HelpSaveHELP, a movement to preserve current financial aid standards for low-income Mississippi students in the face of a new policy that plans to redistribute aid to wealthier prospective students. He currently plans on using his scholarship to attend law school at the University of California at Berkeley.
“With the Truman Scholarship, I hope to pursue a law degree and become an attorney who works at the intersection of education, civil rights and community-building,” Flores said. “I’m particularly interested in advancing education reform and finding solutions to problems that disproportionately affect low-income households and communities of color.”
With the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation investing in young leaders since 1977, this year’s 58 recipients join a community of 3,442 Truman Scholars.
“When I consider what it means to me to be a Truman scholar, I am reminded of the work I have done as well as the work that remains to be done. I am grateful, overjoyed, and kind of nervous, but most importantly, I am ready, ”Bryant said.