Two LSU Honors Students Selected as Truman Finalists

Morgan Johnson, of Shreveport, and Madelyn Smith, of Lafayette, have been selected as finalists for the prestigious scholarship

Morgan Johnson and Madelyn Smith

Morgan Johnson, of Shreveport, and Madelyn Smith, of Lafayette

Photo: Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College is proud to announce that Morgan Johnson, of Shreveport, La., and Madelyn Smith, of Lafayette, La., have been selected as finalists for the prestigious Truman Scholarship.

Johnson and Smith will participate in final interviews on Monday, March 5, in Austin, Texas. Scholarship recipients will be announced on Wednesday, April 18.

Johnson is a senior studying political science and Spanish in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences; Smith is a junior studying natural resource ecology and management with a concentration in conservation biology in the College of Agriculture.

Both finalists are part of the Louisiana Service and Leadership, or LASAL, Scholars Program, which prepares Ogden Honors College students for leadership roles in Louisiana, particularly in the fields of public service, social justice and environmental sustainability. LASAL courses emphasize a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving and research applied to real-world issues, workplace experience and discovery. Through the LASAL program, students develop an appreciation for society’s complex problems and a passion for solving them.

“Once again, LSU and the Honors College are well represented in the Truman Scholarship competition,” said Director of the Office of Fellowship Advising Drew Lamonica Arms. “As LASAL Scholars, Morgan and Madelyn have taken advantage of the numerous opportunities for service, leadership, internships, and learning from experts across the state. Each is concerned to address topics of vital importance to Louisiana: Morgan’s focus is criminal justice reform, and Madelyn’s is coastal land loss. I’m confident they will impress the Truman selection committee with their knowledge and passion for these issues.”

Smith is a team leader for Spring Break International and a member of the Minority Women’s Movement; she has also served as an ESL tutor for many years.

“Madelyn is extremely deserving of this honor. Her intellectual curiosity and passion for Louisiana’s threatened coast has already led her to impressive accomplishments. We are proud to have her as a student in the College of Agriculture,” said William Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the LSU College of Agriculture.

Johnson’s activism centers on criminal justice reform, specifically incarceration laws. In her policy proposal, she calls for the state of Louisiana to adopt legislation that requires inmates who are sentenced to five years or more to be housed in state prisons, thus ending the existence of local for-profit prisons. After graduation, she intends to pursue a JD at the University of California in Los Angeles’ Law School, specializing in critical race studies.

“I am very excited about this opportunity, because the Truman Scholarship is a great avenue for me to become a better public servant,” Johnson said. “I hope that this experience will prepare me to better serve the people of Louisiana.”

Dean of the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences Stacia Haynie said, “We are so proud of Morgan’s incredible accomplishments in the classroom and the community. Her dedication to service and leadership is inspiring.”

An Udall Scholar, Smith is the president and founder of the Sierra Student Coalition at LSU and recently self-published “Louisiana Gone,” a book of photography that documents coastal residents’ voices on their culture and land loss. She is also a research intern with “Coastal Voices,” an audio documentary series that explores the relationships between people, land and water in Louisiana. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in environmental management with a specialization in human dimensions at Yale University.

“I feel humbled and honored to be chosen as one of the Truman Scholarship Finalists from Louisiana,” Smith said. “My devotion to a career in public service is inspired by my love for Louisiana’s wetland ecosystems and a sense of responsibility to ensure coastal communities are included in coastal land loss mitigation decision making. My policy proposal is devoted to reforming the National Flood Insurance Program to promote community resiliency and financial solvency.”

“These finalists represent the best LSU and the Ogden Honors College has to offer: leadership, service and serious policy solutions to major societal problems,” said Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle.

Truman Scholars are offered up to $30,000 for graduate study and are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of their graduate work. To be eligible to apply, students must indicate a desire to work in government, education, the nonprofit sector or the public interest sector, and must have a demonstrated commitment to service. In addition, the scholarship application process requires students to create a public policy that addresses a current public issue.

To read more about the policies proposed by the finalists, visit

The Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Ogden Honors College provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.

The Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising advises current students and recent graduates from all colleges at LSU as they apply for prestigious national and international fellowships.


Related Links:
Truman Finalists: Nominees Advanced as Finalists for Prestigious Scholarship

Truman Nominees: Four Honors Students Chosen as LSU's 2018 Truman Nominees

Lafayette-Native Madelyn Smith Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant

LSU Sophomore Named Udall Scholar, Publishes Book

Global Classroom: Ogden Honors Students Share Their Study Abroad Experiences



Contact Jacqueline DeRobertis
Ogden Honors College


Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations