Junior Makaila Ranges has been named a Truman Scholar.
Madeline Albright, former U.S. secretary of state and now president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, announced Ranges and the other 61 scholarship recipients April 14.
Ranges is a biology and government joint major, minoring in Spanish, who was born in Baton Rouge, La., and now hails from South Bend, Ind. She completes her term as vice president of Diplomatic Congress and will be inaugurated as student government president later this month. Among her other student leadership positions, she serves as the student representative to Franklin & Marshall’s Pandemic Operations Response Team (PORT) and the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Academic Life.
Ranges is only the second Truman Scholar in Franklin & Marshall history, joining Akbar Hossain ’13. Hossain is now a judicial law clerk in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia and a member of the F&M Board of Trustees.
The foundation selected this year’s 62 Truman Scholars from a group of 845 candidates nominated by 328 institutions, a record number of applicants. Each recipient receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence. They were judged by regional selection panels, made up of civic leaders, elected officials, university presidents, federal judges and past Truman Scholarship recipients.
Ranges, a member of the Debate Club, the Harwood Scholars, and the Model United Nations at F&M, has wanted to pursue a Truman Scholarship for a long time. “In my first year at F&M, I was selected to attend Harvard’s Public Policy Leadership Conference (PPLC). There I first heard about the Truman Scholarship. I am a first-generation college student, so I was unsure about how to approach the graduate-school process or funding for those pursuits. After I got home, I told Professor (Monica) Cable (F&M’s director of fellowships and teaching professor of anthropology) that I wanted to apply when I was a junior. By last summer, I had attended several national public service conferences and I realized I wanted to earn my master’s degree in public policy and then earn a law degree.”
“I knew the Truman Scholarship would be a perfect fit for me,” Ranges continued. “I have lofty goals when I enter the public service realm, and as a first-generation college student, I know that I do not necessarily have the social capital to attain them, which is why I need a cohort of social networks to help me reach them. I take this call to service seriously because I want to reframe the narratives that are written about historically marginalized communities, I want to increase gender and racial representation in these fields, and I want to ensure that more marginalized communities can invest in the government that is supposed to serve their interests. Being part of the Truman community would allow me to network with other change agents who are going to be shaping foreign and domestic policy at the top levels of governance.”
Ranges became interested in attending Franklin & Marshall the summer before her senior year in high school. “I was in New York City for the first time with my Alexander Hamilton Scholar program and an F&M admission officer was one of the panelists in a discussion about college admission. Even then, I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school and I needed to attend a college that knew how to prepare its students for post-graduate success. But I never visited F&M before deciding to attend, so the first time I stepped on campus was for preorientation. I didn’t know anyone in Pennsylvania; everything was brand new. But that taught me so much about myself; for instance, for the past three years, I have volunteered as an English as Second Language tutor at the Latin American Doctors Association here in Lancaster.”
F&M President Barbara Altmann said, “All of us at Franklin & Marshall are tremendously proud of Makaila for this huge accomplishment. Earning a Truman Scholarship is a grueling and super-competitive process. Not only is Makaila a very gifted student, she is also prepared to put in the work. I have had the privilege of collaborating with her on several occasions, and it was an honor to play even a small role in supporting her in this process. She has consistently demonstrated thoughtful and passionate leadership as we discuss challenges facing F&M, and I very much look forward to working with her as student body president in the coming year.”
Before graduate school, Ranges plans to intern at the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where she’ll conduct research on immigration and integration policies around the world, refugee and asylum resettlement, and global governance. She said she values her Franklin & Marshall education most for the interdisciplinary nature of the liberal arts.
“My F&M education gives me the flexibility to do what I think will prepare me for the future,” she said. “My joint major directly taps into my interests in science, human rights and international affairs, and it allows me to immerse myself in various disciplines and engage with numerous professors from several departments. Knowing more about the intersection of science and human rights helped me understand how to formulate my Truman application and create a toolset where I can work in various fields of study.”
Cable was effusive in her praise for Ranges. “Makaila has impressed me since I first met her in her first year at the College,” Cable said. “She continues to impress me with her maturity, organizational skills, and her steadfast commitment to bettering the lives of others. Makaila took the initiative to contact former Truman Scholars, including Akbar Hossain ’13, to get feedback from as many perspectives as possible. In preparing for her interview as a Truman finalist, she set up two of her own mock interviews in addition to the two I set up. She takes constructive criticism well and to heart, and works hard to continually improve her already impressive self. I don’t think that I’ve ever worked with an applicant who has put in so much time and energy on her own behalf!”
Cable invited Ranges to Altmann’s office in Old Main on the premise that she was to sign a document; there the two told Ranges of her Truman Scholarship selection. “It was a celebration after several months of intense preparation and writing,” Ranges recalled, “but it was very special. I am Franklin & Marshall’s first female Truman Scholar and I’m an African American Truman Scholar from Indiana. It’s hard to believe that I was able to break a glass ceiling for other young women who are interested in public service.”
Established by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Harry S. Truman and a national monument to public service, the Truman Scholarship carries the legacy of the 33rd president by supporting and inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. President Truman embodied this commitment to the future of public service by asking Congress to create a living memorial devoted to this purpose instead of a traditional brick-and-mortar monument. Fewer than 3,500 Truman Scholars have been named since the first awards were presented in 1977.
Both Ranges and Cable expressed gratitude to several Franklin & Marshall faculty and staff who volunteered their time to participate in Ranges’ mock interviews. They included Gabriel Brandt, associate professor of chemistry; Prithviraj Datta, visiting assistant professor of government; Susan Dicklitch-Nelson, professor of government; Janet Fischer, professor of biology; Stephan Kaufer, John Williamson Nevin Memorial Professor of Philosophy; Jennifer Redmann, professor of German; and Pierce Buller, vice president and general counsel. Other mock interviewers included Hossain and Lancaster County Court Judge Leonard Brown III, an adjunct assistant professor of government at F&M.
"Makaila took the initiative to contact former Truman Scholars, including Akbar Hossain ’13, to get feedback from as many perspectives as possible. She takes constructive criticism well and to heart, and works hard to continually improve her already impressive self.”