Mississippi’s two finalists for the 2019 Harry S. Truman Scholarship are graduates of the Stennis Center for Public Service’s Mississippi NEW Leadership program. 

Mississippi State University Seniors Alicia D. Brown of Petal and Marisa G. Laudadio of Walnut visited “Music City” on Wednesday [March 6] for regional interviews in hopes of becoming the newest students to receive the highly coveted award honoring the nation’s 33rd president.

Brown is a chemical engineering major in the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering’s Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering.

Laudadio is a political science/pre-law and communication/public relations double-major in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science and Public Administration and Department of Communication.

“Alicia and Marisa think beyond the boundaries of a single major to begin to solve problems, such as climate change, immigration reform, foster care and adoption reform, and children’s rights. Both student leaders believe that democracy is strong enough to tackle these critical concerns and have chosen to be part of the solution in the future,” said Tommy Anderson, who serves as honors college associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs, director of the Office of Prestigious External Scholarships, and is an English professor and the College of Arts and Sciences’ interim assistant dean for undergraduate academic affairs.

“Alicia and Marisa are inspiring women who have made Mississippi State and the state of Mississippi stronger in how it serves students and residents,” he added.

Both women are graduates of the Mississippi NEW Leadership program, a program co-hosted by the Stennis Center for Public Service and Mississippi University for Women.

About NEW Leadership

National Education for Women’s Leadership (NEW Leadership) was developed in the 1990s by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University to educate and encourage the next generation of women leaders. NEW Leadership stresses political participation as a way to make a difference in a community and teaches concrete skills needed to be politically effective. The NEW Leadership program now operates on 17 college campuses across America.

The program brings together female college students from public and private universities, as well as community colleges in the state. These young women examine the value that women bring to leadership positions in government and are encouraged to pursue leadership opportunities in government. Participants learn about women in politics, women’s pathways to power, obstacles to women’s leadership, attitudes toward women leaders, and strategies to encourage full participation and representation of women in political leadership.

About the Truman Scholarship Foundation

Administered each year by the Washington, D.C.-based Truman Scholarship Foundation, the Truman Scholarship provides $30,000 in graduate-study expenses for 55 to 65 students committed to public service after completing their degrees.

This year, the Truman Foundation reviewed 840 student applications from 346 institutions and selected 199 finalists from 143 institutions based on records of leadership, public service and academic achievement. Following interviews by the foundation’s regional review panels, the 2019 Truman Scholars class will be announced in late April. For more, visit

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Photos by Logan Kirkland and Russ Houston.