Kerner named Truman scholar Ms. Anna Kerner, a junior political science major at The University of South Dakota, is the institution's eighth Truman Scholarship winner. The Truman Scholarship is a $30,000 merit-based scholarship given annually to approximately 75 students nationwide who plan to attend graduate school in preparation for a career in government or other public service.
The award will be used for Kerner's senior year of undergraduate education and for graduate studies. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation � the federal memorial to the 33rd president � sponsors the scholarships.
The university has produced eight Truman scholars since 1986, five of which have been named in the past eight years. In 1999, The University of South Dakota was named a Truman Honor Institution. The honor recognizes institutions that have consistently produced Truman scholars over an extended period of time.
USD is the only Truman Honor Institution in South Dakota. There are a total of 42 colleges and universities which
have been named Truman Honor Institutions, including Princeton, Harvard, Georgetown, Cornell, Duke, and Stanford.
"We are proud of Anna and the contributions she makes on a daily basis to The University of South Dakota," said USD Acting President Don Dahlin. "Winning this honor is just one example of the excellence and the continuing high quality performance of students on this campus. The Truman Scholarships are an extremely prestigious honor in the academic world and are awarded only to college students who have a commitment to 'make a difference' in the world. Anna is an excellent personification of that
Kerner is the daughter of Richard and Marlene Kerner of Burke, and a 1999 graduate of Burke High School. Previous winners of the coveted award include: Michael Jansen of Sioux Falls (1986); Jamison Rounds of Pierre (1993); Mindy Glover of Yankton (1995); Jeff Navin of Sioux Falls (1996); Brendan Johnson of Vermillion (1997); Dusty Johnson of Pierre (1998); and Leslie Medema of Sioux Falls (1999).
Interestingly, two USD students were named finalists in 1999. Besides Medema, Bryan Anderson of Maple Grove, MN also was named a finalist.
USD's newest Truman Scholar plans to pursue a degree in law at George Washington University in Washington, DC upon graduation.
As a part of her scholarship application, Kerner had to write a policy proposal, which she based on personal experience.
"I was in a wheelchair for two years when I was 12, and the personal issues I had to deal with during that time made me realize the difficulty faced by individuals with disabilities," Kerner said. "That prompted me to look at the ADA act and see its loopholes. I used that as the basis of my policy proposal for the Truman Scholarship application."
High school experiences, which also shaped the future scholar, included holding multiple offices, including co-chair for District 6 of the five-county South Central South Dakota Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). "One of my district speeches was on the ADA, for which I won the state FCCLA 'Illustrated Talk' competition as a high school junior in 1998," Kerner said. "When I made it to the National FCCLA completion in New Orleans, LA, it was really great to meet people from other states. Being around those individuals made me realize that I wasn't the only one with a disability and that I really could make a difference as an individual."
In the three years she has been at The University of South Dakota, Kerner has held leadership positions in several organizations, including Student Senate, president of the College Democrats, Program Council News and Views chair, and Dakota Days Dignitaries chair. She held a spring 2001 internship in the Sioux Falls office of U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson and held summer internships in the Washington, DC offices of both Johnson and Sen. Tom Daschle (in 2000 and 2001 respectively).
Kerner was an intern for House Democrats during the 2002 South Dakota Legislative session and is currently working in Sen. Johnson's South Falls campaign headquarters.
The team of USD mentors which assisted Kerner with her oral and written preparation for the Truman Scholarship included political science professors Elizabeth Smith, Richard Braunstein and Tim Schorn; School of Law Dean Barry Vickrey, law professor Tom Geu; Honors Program Assistant Director Susan Hackemer; IdEA Program Assistant Director Sarah Wittmuss; speech communication instructor Jill Tyler; and Manager of Training and professor of the Center for Disabilities Patrick Redinius.
Kerner had high praise for her mentors at USD.
"I wouldn't have been able to apply for this scholarship at all if it hadn't been for them," she said. "Their constant advice is what motivated me to continue on with the process."
Judges include senior officials from academic and public service and former Truman Scholars. Recipients were judged on the basis of leadership potential, academic performance and potential, community service records, and demonstrated commitment to public service.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation annually seeks candidates who have extensive records of public and community service, are committed to careers in government or elsewhere in public service, and have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills. Financial need is not a consideration.