Haley Hardie '15, a political science major from Watertown, S.D., recently was awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which provides her with up to $30,000 for graduate study.
The Truman Scholarship was established by Congress in 1975 to help worthy college students prepare for careers in government and other public service. This year the national office presented scholarships to 59 recipients from 52 U.S. colleges and universities.
In addition to the monetary award, Truman Scholars receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, as well as leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.
Hardie plans to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career in international development policy. Her first choice graduate institution is the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University, where she intends to earn a master's degree in international relations.
Before graduate school, however, Hardie plans to serve in the Peace Corps. When asked where she might want to serve, Hardie said she would go "wherever I'm most needed."
Hardie explained that the Peace Corps will provide her with a unique perspective for a career crafting public policy.
"I think too often policy makers have seen poverty, but they haven't lived in a community that is teeming with mistrust due to the failure of bad policy," she explained. "Policy makers often don't realize that development policy can only succeed by crafting policy around the needs that a community determines, not around the needs that a policy maker prescribes."
Hardie added, "I think a tour with the Peace Corps will enhance my understanding of the international community and strengthen my resolve to combat the problems of this generation."
Part of Hardie's application for the Truman Scholarship included a policy proposal, in which she demonstrated her desire to craft policies that help disadvantaged populations. "I proposed that the government dedicate 70 percent of grants currently provided through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to programs that follow the ‘housing first' model," she said.
Housing first development models aim to end the cycle of homelessness by providing those in need with permanent supportive housing, and an array of mental health, employment, social integration and addiction services.
Hardie said, "Other homelessness programs follow the ‘treatment first' model, which forces the chronically homeless to undergo therapy or drug testing before providing them with housing. Those models aren't nearly as effective at rehabilitating candidates."
Hardie said that her determination to help those in need began at an early age, and was inspired by her father's stories about his experiences living in the Middle East during the 1970s and 80s. "My dad told me about the poor treatment of women and the trials of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which opened my eyes to the suffering in the world," she said. "Since then, I have been driven by compassion and my desire to affect change."
Hardie explained that her goals were reinforced when her family bore the brunt of the recent economic crisis. "I experienced first-hand what it's like to lose things you count on, and what it's like to need help," she said. "Now, more than ever, I want to be that help to people who need it the most."