Beisner and Magnett Named Truman Scholars

April 14, 2021

Grinnell College students Sarah Beisner ’22 and Destiny Magnett ’22 were awarded highly prestigious Truman Scholarships. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established as a living memorial to President Truman by U.S. Congress in 1975. The foundation awards merit-based scholarships to college students in their junior year who plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service. 

Sarah Beisner, class of 2022, is named a Truman Scholar.

Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence. Each Truman Scholar receives a scholarship worth up to $30,000 for graduate or professional school, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.   

Beisner, of Grinnell, Iowa, and originally from Denton, Texas, is majoring in psychology and Spanish with the intention of pursuing a master’s of social work with an emphasis on public policy. 

Magnett, of Topeka, Kansas, is a religious studies major with concentrations in peace and conflict studies and studies in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. She intends to enter divinity school for a master’s of theological studies related to work in religion, communities and peace building. 

Beisner and Magnett were two of the 62 new Truman Scholars selected from 845 candidates nominated by 328 colleges and universities – a record number of applicants. They were recommended by seventeen independent selection panels based on the finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders. Regional selection panels met virtually and included distinguished civic leaders, elected officials, university presidents, federal judges, and past Truman Scholarship winners.   

“It is a significant honor to be named a Truman Scholar as recognition of a person’s outstanding public service, leadership and academic achievement,” said Ann Landstrom, assistant dean and director of global fellowships and awards at Grinnell. “Sarah and Destiny are exceptional young people that are inspired to make a difference in our world through their own unique visions for their future.” 

Beisner is planning for a career in social policy research and advocacy to bring about systemic change in the child welfare system. She interned with the Center for Children’s Law and Policy and worked at a residential treatment center for children with severe behavioral challenges, all within this past year. Beisner is completing advanced research looking at the experiences of crossover youth, youth involved in both the child welfare and youth justice systems, in Iowa. In addition, Beisner has worked and volunteered with Mid-Iowa Community Action, mentored for psychology research methods, ran track and cross country, and volunteered/worked with elementary school students. 

Beisner said, “I’m really grateful for all the encouragement I received to apply for the Truman and the support of my professors and friends during the long application process. The scholarship is going to go a long way in helping me achieve my goals, and I wouldn’t have gotten it without everyone’s support.” Her application was supported by Laura Sinnett, associate professor of psychology, Esther Gierman, family support specialist at Four Oaks formerly of Mid-Iowa Community Action, and Cori Jakubiak, associate professor of education. 

Destiny Magnett, class of 2022, is named a Truman Scholar.

Magnett is preparing for a career at the intersection of religion and community-driven peacebuilding. Her current work as a contributor and research assistant for Mapping Islamophobia and intern in the Religion and Ethnic Minorities Unit at the United States Agency for International Development have distinctly positioned her goals. She was president and is an active member of the Grinnell Debating Union and has served on the Religious Studies Student Educational Policy Committee, Peace and Conflict Studies Student Educational Policy Committee, and Peace and Conflict Studies Programming Committee. She has also served two terms as Election Board Chair for the Student Government Association. 

Magnett said, “I feel incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities I have had to pursue my passions at Grinnell and beyond, and I feel very humbled and honored to have received this award. I could not have done it without the outpouring of support from my professors, advisors, classmates, friends and family. I am so excited for what lies ahead in my graduate studies and career.” Her application was supported by Henry Rietz, professor of religious studies, Mark Baechtel, director of forensic activities, and Caleb Elfenbein, associate professor of history and religious studies. 

Additional Class of 2022 nominees selected and supported by Grinnell College were: 

  • Danielle Mydlo, of Carpentersville, Illinois, an anthropology major with a concentration in science, medicine and society with plans to pursue advanced degrees in public policy and medicine. 

  • Sharene Gould Dulabaum, of Elgin, Illinois, a biology and political science double major with a concentration in environmental studies with a plan to pursue a master’s degree in public administration in environmental science and policy. 

Grinnell College is allowed to put forward four nominees for the award each year. Students of all disciplines with an intention to pursue graduate study and work within public service are encouraged to apply for campus nomination in spring semester of their second year. The nominees form a cohort to complete their foundation applications in a seminar format in the fall semester of their third year for early spring semester submission. 

The Truman Scholarship carries the legacy of our 33rd President by supporting and inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. When approached by a bipartisan group of admirers near the end of his life, President Truman embodied this commitment to the future of public service by asking Congress to create a living memorial devoted to this purpose, rather than a traditional brick-and-mortar monument. For more than forty years, the Truman Foundation has fulfilled that mission: inspiring and supporting Americans from diverse backgrounds to public service. The 62 awardees in 2021 join a community of 3,384 Truman Scholars named since the first awards in 1977. 

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