An East Tennessee State University student has earned a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, one of the most competitive and prestigious awards in the United States. Trent White, ETSU’s Student Government Association president and a junior majoring in political science, learned of this achievement in a surprise announcement with ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. 

“I am here today because of all who have supported me, including family, friends and ETSU faculty and staff,” said White. “This is an incredible honor, and I can’t wait to showcase ETSU and the Appalachian region as a Truman scholar.” 

A graduate of Unicoi County High School, White has been a leader at the university since he arrived. He won the SGA presidency in 2023, and he is a member of a premier scholarship program at ETSU, the Roan Scholars Leadership Program

“We are unbelievably proud of Trent, who has worked so hard to earn this elite honor, becoming the fourth ETSU student to win this prestigious scholarship,” said Noland. “I also commend our faculty and staff who invested their time helping Trent prepare his application.”  

Past ETSU Truman recipients include Steven Drinnon (1992), Betty Miles (1997) and Barbara Saylers-Fulmer (1980).  

ETSU has signaled a strong commitment to assist students in applying for nationally and globally competitive scholarships.  In recent years, students have secured prestigious awards, including a Goldwater Scholarship and one from the U.S. Department of State, and alumnus Shivam Patel was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship last year.  

“Our Nashville panel was impressed by Trent’s track record of leadership in eastern Tennessee,” said Dr. Terry Babcock-Lumish, executive secretary for the Truman Foundation. “We appreciate his clear commitment to serving marginalized communities in rural Appalachia and look forward to his joining our nationwide community of dedicated public servants.” 

The Truman Scholarship is deeply competitive. The Truman Foundation reviews more than 800 applications each year, with roughly 55-65 scholarships awarded.  

“Trent winning the Truman is a win for every first-generation college student who ever wondered if they belonged or not,” said Dr. Carson Medley, assistant dean of the Honors College and director of Prestigious Awards. “His story – the mentoring and teamwork behind his triumph – should restore trust in all those who have lost faith in higher education and question the value of college.” 

Medley led a team of ETSU faculty and staff that included ETSU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Kimberly D. McCorkle, Noland, University Counsel Dr. Mark Fulks and Executive Director of the Roan Scholarship Program Scott Jeffress. 

“We could not be prouder of Trent and this award is a true testament to his accomplishments and his sincere dedication to public service,” said McCorkle. “Our entire ETSU community is proud to support and celebrate the achievements of our amazing students.” 


East Tennessee State University was founded in 1911 with a singular mission: to improve the quality of life for people in the region and beyond. Through its world-class health sciences programs and interprofessional approach to health care education, ETSU is a highly respected leader in rural health research and practices. The university also boasts nationally ranked programs in the arts, technology, computing, and media studies. ETSU serves approximately 14,000 students each year and is ranked among the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation for students graduating with the least amount of debt.

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