University of Dallas students apply annually to a multitude of prestigious post-graduation scholarships and fellowships. One such UD student, Kelsey Reese, a junior business major, is applying for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive federal scholarship, granted to college juniors who are pursuing a graduate education and demonstrate leadership potential and a commitment to public service. Applicants create their application around a particular social issue that they want to make a contribution to and write a policy proposal on how they plan to do so.
Reese’s project centers on the prevention of domestic child sex trafficking. She plans to pursue this project through either a law degree or peace studies, in order “to get the tools I need to be able to solve these problems and then implement them in the community.”
She is focusing on the importance of preventative measures, by looking at how to stop the demand of child sex trafficking on both a local and national level. She aspires to raise awareness, stating, “Anything you can do to make the community more aware of it, instead of just putting on Band-Aids, is important. People think trafficking is a global issue, but it is happening in their own backyard, just ten miles away.”
Reese already has an Associates of Arts Degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Having a unique story and unique skill set, Reese is striving to find the right balance between her business and fashion degrees. She hopes to someday create a business that will play a significant part in the anti-trafficking movement.
Reese has demonstrated her commitment to her mission in multiple ways. In the summer of 2018, she was involved in Freedom and Fashion, a Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to the “reidentification and reimpowerment of sex trafficking survivors through fashion.” She mentored trafficking victims in the designing of a 19 piece collection for the Freedom and Fashion Show. “I guided them and polished their designs, and then I drafted the patterns, sewed the garments and fit the models.”
Through this experience, Reese was “grateful to be able to use the creative side of her brain but also be very helpful to the girls. Art can be hard to relate to after trauma but we found that art can express things beyond words. The clothing held way deeper meanings than could be imagined. It was amazing to be a part of.”
She is also involved in the local community through Traffick911, an organization which works with community centers in Dallas that deal with anti-trafficking.
Reese found inspiration to work against trafficking while volunteering in the Philippines, where she first encountered the toll of human trafficking. “I saw it happening it front of me, and this is where the spark of frustration grew that I couldn’t do anything. It was heartbreaking to see and have to walk away from the situation, so I want to do good from my experience.”
The Truman Scholarship application is due January 31, and applicants will find out in February if they are selected for an interview. Reese is set to graduate from University of Dallas in December 2019.
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