University of Montana Students Named Finalists for Coveted Truman Scholarship

Two undergraduate students from the University of Montana have been named national finalists for the coveted Truman Scholarship, the nation’s highest graduate fellowship for public service leaders.

Marian Kale of Billings and Jay Schutze of Flower Mound, Texas, are among the few U.S. students chosen as Truman Scholarship finalists this year.Kale and Schutze represent two of UM’s cornerstone academic programs: music education and wildlife biology, respectively.

Only roughly 55 to 65 Truman Scholarships are awarded each year from a pool of more than 800 American student applications. The scholarship is very competitive and prestigious, with college juniors receiving up to three years of graduate education and $30,000. Each year, institutions can nominate up to four applicants.

Kylla Benes, director of the UM Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships, expressed the institution and state’s pride in Marian and Jay’s selection as Truman finalists. “The Truman Scholarship is extremely competitive, and their selection as finalists reflects the very best of UM in mentorship, public service and academic rigor.”

Benes’ office in UM’s Davidson Honors College offers free scholarship advice to all UM students, with the goal of making the process welcoming, fair, and accessible to everyone.

She stated that UM has an amazing history of Truman Scholars and finalists. Bea Frissell, a Polson resident, was awarded a Truman Scholar in 2022, in addition to being a Marshall Scholar. In 2021, three UM students (all women) received the honor.

The Truman Foundation describes the award as a living legacy to Truman’s values of service. According to the organization, the award encourages and supports future leaders in public service.

Marian Kale

Marian Kale, University of Montana undergraduate student studying music education and violin performance, is a Truman Scholarship finalist. UM photo by Tommy Martino

Kale, a music education and violin performance major, aims to improve rural music education by delivering targeted teacher training and increased resources to rural schools.

Kale, a student teacher in three local public schools throughout her stay at UM’s College of the Arts and Media’s School of Music, has gained valuable experience. She also offers music lessons and has served on the executive boards of the Student Music Union, the American String Teachers Association, and the National Association for Music Education Collegiate. She has performed with campus ensembles such as the Grizzly Marching Band, the UM Symphony Orchestra, Montana Youth Symphony, and the Missoula Symphony. Kale has also been active in various community and campus organizations that advocate for music infrastructure, access, and support.

Kale saw applying for the Truman Scholarship as a good opportunity to shape her career and professional ambitions.

“The application process allowed me to enhance my professional skills, clarify my career goals and continue developing the skills necessary to advocate for equitable music education,” she said. “I am eager to represent the University of Montana as a scholarship finalist and deeply appreciate the faculty mentorship and support I have received in this process.”

Jay Schutze

University of Montana undergraduate student Jay Schutze was selected as Truman Scholarship finalist. UM photo by Tommy Martino

Schutze pursued a major in wildlife biology at UM’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, inspired by her passion for outdoor education and public engagement on controversial wildlife management problems. Schutze’s breakthrough research at UM explores the impact of feral actions on biodiversity in Missoula.

Schutze has also gained research experience as a volunteer at the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, UM’s Avian Science Center, and by designing and implementing an applied senior thesis project. Schutze believes that public education is an important part of their work, and she has worked as an outdoor educator every summer, volunteered as a judge for the state science competition, and is currently working on developing an Indigenous-centered curriculum to prevent human-wildlife interactions.

They also hold a Montana Master Naturalist credential, are a member of the UM Wildlife Society, and served as a student reviewer for the UM Experiential Learning Scholarship Fund.

“The application process alone was such a rewarding experience,” Schutze said. “I am beyond grateful to Kylla, my mentors, faculty members, friends and family for their guidance and encouragement as I pursue a career in environmental justice through field research, education and outreach and policy reform.”

Leave a Reply