The Truman Foundation announced on April 12 that junior Anne Hall had been selected as one of the 59 Truman Scholars for 2018, according to the Truman Foundation’s website. Juniors Eva Kahan and Wylie Chang were finalists. According to the Truman Foundation website, Hall’s application was chosen out of 756 applications from 312 institutions.
Founded in 1975 by Congress, the Truman Foundation and its scholarship are dedicated to supporting the next generation of public service leaders, according to Deputy Executive Secretary Tara Yglesias, who oversees the selection process of Truman Scholars.
While Yglesias did not interview with Hall, she did review Hall’s application, noting that not only did Hall have an outstanding academic record but she also has demonstrated through her work promoting women’s health in rural South Dakota that she is a “change agent.” Hall’s commitment to her home state of South Dakota made her stand out, Yglesias said.
“We see a lot of students who want to work on the international stage,” Yglesias said. “It was really compelling that she wanted to return home to South Dakota and work there.”
Hall said she had once been looking to leave the Midwest and the conservative Christian community she grew up in to be a doctor that traveled the world, potentially working in Laos, where her family is from. She said she became reunited with her faith while working with the native people of South Dakota.
“I was really infuriated by the hypocrisy I saw within my church. They were so eager to go to Haiti, go to Latin America, go to Africa on missions to help people while neglecting the situation on native reservations or even poverty in our own city,” Hall said. “That was also my break from the Church and my break from Christianity, but eventually I came back to my faith and to God through working with native women. Being reunited in my faith really inspired me to continue working in these rural populations when everybody else has neglected them.”
Hall started working with rural and native women the summer after her first year at Tufts through Tapestry Ministry, where she helped women find resources for jobs, childcare and healthcare, she explained.
“My faith is deeply rooted in a biblical understanding of justice and love and not remaining silent or indifferent about various expressions of oppression or human rights violations,” Hall said.
In her second year at Tufts, Hall took a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies class, “Rape Crisis and Recovery,” which certified her to provide rape counseling in Massachusetts. Hall then transferred that certification to South Dakota and volunteered as a rape crisis advocate in a hospital through a nonprofit in Sioux Falls the following summer, according to Hall.
“I would receive calls in the middle of the night and I would either work at a hotline talking with victims about their experience with sexual violence or I would meet them at the hospital to be there with them as they got evidence collected on their sexual assault,” Hall said.
That summer, Hall also shadowed an obstetrician-gynecologist and was able to observe doctor-patient relationships.
Faith has been not only important to Hall personally but also to her work, as she looks to pursue Doctor of Medicine and Master of Divinity degrees with the scholarship she has been awarded from the Truman Foundation.
“There’s so much more to your health than physical health — your emotional health, your mental health, your spiritual health,” Hall said. “And by only focusing on one, you’re not focusing on the whole person.”
Hall is also a first-generation student who, despite facing economic insecurity, is thankful for the sacrifices her family has made for her.
Associate Dean for Student Success and Advising Robert Mack, who knows Hall from her leadership as co-president of the First-Generation College Student Council, said he wrote Hall’s recommendation letter for the Truman Scholarship.
“I was really happy when she asked me to write her a letter to support her,” Mack said. “She is real to her truth. In every encounter I’ve had with her, she is sincere and honest and a wonderful human being. Her work at the First-Gen Council is only a small example of her passion to help others.”
Hall said she is humbled by her award from the Truman Foundation.
“I didn’t receive it. I mean I did, but it was because of all the women who shaped me, inspired me, shared their stories with me … especially my mom,” Hall said.