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Lake Park-Audubon grad receives prestigious $30,000 H. Truman Scholarship

Kellcee Baker is the only Minnesota recipient of this year's Harry Truman Scholarship. She will use the award for graduate school.

The University of Minnesota Morris has the bragging rights to two students being named Truman Scholarship recipients this year. Better yet, Lake Park-Audubon can claim one too.

Kellcee Baker, 20, a 2006 graduate from Lake Park-Audubon, was named the only Minnesota (the other Morris winner is from out of state) resident to win the $30,000 distinguished Harry S. Truman Scholarship for 2009.

"The process is extremely time consuming, it is equal to a semester of course work," Baker said.

Each university can submit only four candidates. Baker was approached about applying for the scholarship, which starts with a standard resume with classes, activities, awards, etc. listed.

"The rest of the application is based on a series of essay questions inquiring about your leadership abilities and educational and career aspirations. Basically it asks you to plan out your life," she explained.

The last portion of the application is a policy proposal, which asks the applicant to identify a problem in society that he or she would like to fix and then lay out how to solve the problem.

Sixty students were chosen for the Truman Scholarship. They were selected from 601 candidates. The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd U.S. president. The first award was given in 1977.

According to the foundation's Web site,, "each scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government."

Stepping back, Baker is attending Morris for a degree in psychology and liberal arts for the human services "because I have always wanted to make a difference in people's life. There are many ways that an individual can create change, I hope to do so on a personal level, by helping others in their own lives."

While at Morris, Baker is involved in Campus Ambassadors (tour guides), work in the admissions office, Circle of Nations Indian Association, Morris Campus Student Association (student government), psychology division representative, and the Student Services Committee.

After she graduates from Morris, but before entering graduate school, Baker said she'd like to get some experience in her field by working for a county social services agency, "to understand the procedures of the government programs."

Following that, she'll use the Truman Scholarship monies to attend graduate school.

"I believe that an individual's self-esteem affects their entire life; if they grow up with a low self-esteem it will be hard for them to change that as an adult," she said. "I believe that it should be a priority to help youth in order to solve some of the large psychological and social problems in our society."

Although she's not certain the Truman Scholarship will cover her entire graduate school cost, it will certainly be a big help.

"Either way I am making an investment in my future, now the Truman Foundation is making the same investment in me," she said.

The 2009 Truman Scholars will gather May 26 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., on May 31.