Mississippi student named Truman Scholar
Published 6:15 am Friday, April 14, 2023
An ordinary day turned extraordinary for Madeleine Dotson this week, as she was congratulated by University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce for becoming the institution’s 18th Truman Scholar.
Winners were formally announced Wednesday (April 12) by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Boyce surprised Dotson, a junior Arabic, economics and political science major, with the news in his office on Monday (April 10), surrounded by several university leaders.
“I’m so surprised,” the Mobile, Alabama, native said. “I really wasn’t expecting it. I’ve been waiting to hear back, and all my friends were saying maybe it would be later in the week.”
The Truman Foundation, the nation’s official living memorial to the 33rd U.S. president, awards merit-based scholarships to college students who plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service.
“We are incredibly proud of Madeleine,” Boyce said. “Everything that she has accomplished during her time at the university has landed her in an elite group of exceptionally talented students.
“She embodies the type of academic and service leader that we celebrate at Ole Miss.”
Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate or professional school, participate in leadership development activities and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.
The Arabic Language Flagship Program is what initially drew Dotson to the university when she enrolled in 2020. The program is available only at select higher education institutions. Dotson serves as an Arabic Flagship ambassador and has coordinated an intensive summer Arabic program for high school students.
A Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College student and ambassador, Dotson has also studied disaster resiliency and climate change. She was recently named the head ambassador for the Center for Community Engagement, which resulted in the creation of the annual Water Day Panel, an open forum that discusses water-related current events.
During her studies, Dotson has traveled to countries such as Morocco, Japan and Italy seeking out global educational opportunities. As a Stamps Scholarship recipient, she was granted a stipend for travel abroad.
After being named a finalist in February, Dotson had to travel to Nashville during a study abroad experience to interview for the scholarship. The journey was precarious, to say the least.
“I had to fly back from Israel and Palestine for the interview,” she said. “I was taking a public policy leadership course. I actually had some problems getting back because I had so many Moroccan stamps, and I accidentally spoke Arabic to the Israeli police.
“They questioned me for a while, and I was worried they wouldn’t allow me on the plane.”
She made the interview, however, and her effort paid off.
Now that Dotson has been named a Truman Scholar, she will convene with fellow winners at the 2023 Truman Leadership Week. Then, she will start taking steps to achieve her dream of completing a master’s degree in ecological economics followed by a doctorate in economics.
“I’m excited for leadership week and just to see what’s out there,” she said. “I need to start taking graduate school options pretty seriously because I have some funding now. That’s really exciting.”