K-State’s newest Truman Scholar sets her sights on world issues
When a door of opportunity opens for Katie Sleichter, she jumps through with both feet.
That sense of adventure and fearlessness led her to volunteer with a nonprofit in the Dominican Republic — and a Truman scholarship for students going into public service.
The Truman provides up to $30,000 for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. According to the Truman Foundation, 58 scholarships were awarded this year from a candidate pool of 705 students nominated by 275 colleges and universities.
Setting global sights
Katie, a senior majoring in political science with a secondary major in global food systems and leadership and minors in Spanish and Middle Eastern Studies, wants to make a difference in the world.
“I want to work in the cross section of government and international collaboration,” Katie said. “I’m interested in women and agriculture initiatives because of my background growing up on a farm. I am also interested in public diplomacy.”
Katie applied for the Truman to help pay for graduate school.
“I figured I might as well try,” she said. “I really want to work in public service and use my skills, education and talents to better the world.”
Katie has received several scholarships during her academic career, and she credits them with helping in her success.
“Having scholarships from donors and other sources helped me focus more on my education and allowed me to dive into what was important to me,” she said. “With scholarship support I didn’t have to work paid jobs as much, so I was able to seek out opportunities that helped me figure out what I want to do with my career and what my passions are.”
Building on K-State’s national scholarship success
Another key to her success was Jim Hohenbary, K-State’s director of the Nationally Competitive Scholarships office, which is also supported by donors.
“Jim was integral to the application process. He not only talked through scholarship things, but he also talked with me about career aspirations, goals, passions, values and everything,” Katie said. “Without him challenging me and being the devil’s advocate through the whole process, I don’t think I would have been able to finish the application.”
While applying for a nationally competitive scholarship is a daunting process, Katie recommends students go for it.
“Even if you don’t get the scholarship, it’s a great opportunity to look inwardly at yourself and determine what your next steps are going to be after university,” she said.
Katie hopes donors who invest in scholarships realize the ripple effect their support has on students. She says the power of scholarships reaches far beyond just taking care of tuition.
“It opens doors for people to get involved with different organizations and find opportunities they couldn’t pursue if they had to work,” she said. “It has a deep, lasting impact not only on their time at university but also their time after — because what they get to pursue while a college student has a domino effect for what they get to do with their future.”
Her perseverance, help from K-State mentors and donors, and overall dedication to creating a better world have driven Katie’s success.
Only time will tell where her domino will fall.