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Prestigious double play

University of Minnesota, Morris Truman Scholars Kellcee Baker (left) and Ashley Gaschk (right) with UMM Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson. Photo courtesy UMM.

By Judy Riley

UMM News Service

University of Minnesota, Morris students Kellcee Baker and Ashley Gaschk have been named 2009 Truman Scholars, two of the 60 selected across the entire United States, and they are the only recipients from Minnesota and North Dakota.

Baker, daughter of Scott and Tracy Baker, Audubon, Minn., is the only Truman recipient selected from Minnesota and Gaschk, daughter of Mitchell and Della Gaschk, Bismarck, N.D., is the only North Dakotan named.

Both are juniors at Morris, and they are also the only University of Minnesota students selected from among 601 candidates nominated by 289 colleges and universities.

"I speak for the entire campus when I extend my sincere congratulations to Kellcee and Ashley as our 2009 Truman Scholars," said UMM Chancellor Jacquie Johnson. "We are so proud of these two students. Their success with the Truman illustrates what we at Morris already know--our students are among the best in the country and they are prepared to be tomorrow's leaders."

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd President. The Foundation awards highly competitive, national scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service.

"I owe a lot to my family, my support group, friends and the faculty and staff who supported me throughout the application process," said Baker, who majors in psychology and liberal arts for the human services and minors in business and Native American studies.

A first-generation college student majoring in English and American studies, with a political science minor, Gaschk said she was "shocked and thrilled" when notified that she is a Truman Scholar. "Now that the reality is beginning to sink in, I am honored to receive the award...the interview panelists were interested in my interests, leadership abilities, the way I think, and my sense of humor, in addition to my grades. It's a great relief knowing that now I'll have the Foundation's financial support for graduate school, as well as having great internship and networking opportunities opened to me.

UMM has had four students earn Truman Scholars honors.