MSU’s Hutchins, Phillips named Truman Scholar finalists

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College students are Mississippi State’s most recent national finalists for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

Devin Hutchins
Devin Hutchins (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

Devin Hutchins, a philosophy and economics double major from Hernando, and Joshua Phillips, a political science and economics double major from Birmingham, Alabama, are among the prestigious finalists from across the U.S. for the premier graduate fellowship for those pursuing careers in public service.

Joshua Phillips
Joshua Phillips (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

Hutchins, a 2023 participant in the Delta Scholars Summer Institute and a highly decorated International Public Debate Association debater—both in individual and team competitions on the state and national stage—said he chose his majors as a foundation for law school in the future and hopes to serve Magnolia State residents as a civil rights attorney and as an elected official.

“I have always seen the law as a mighty vessel that, if gone unchecked, is just as prone to injustice as it is justice. If we want to preserve freedom for the next generation—a herculean order—we have to work for it, and that is exactly what I want to do both in interpreting it and writing it,” Hutchins said. “Endless encouragement, sage mentorship and indispensable academic resources have kept me on the right path at MSU. That isn’t a fluke—support is the norm at State.”

Phillips, a G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Presidential Endowed Scholar who grew up in Australia, said he developed a deep interest in international relations and global development—specifically in the Middle East and North Africa—after moving to the U.S. Through the Shackouls Honors College and the MSU Office of Study Abroad, he has spent time advancing his education at the University of Oxford in England and the International University of Rabat in Morocco.

Phillips said he is planning a career as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State following graduate school.

“Through my study-abroad experiences, I was able to grow significantly in my understanding of Middle Eastern politics, cultures and languages, which only deepened my passion for the region,” he said.  “I want to use my international background and experience in the region to bolster U.S. collaboration with local governances and learn about the region’s dynamics from local voices.”

David Hoffman, MSU Office of Prestigious External Scholarships director, said both Hutchins and Phillips are “are deeply committed to tackling their respective concerns about the world via careers in public service, which is the hallmark of a Truman Scholar.”

“Both have done an excellent job of capitalizing on opportunities that they were presented with during their time here at MSU, whether that be Devin’s participation in our Delta Scholars program and the Public Policy Leadership Conference at Harvard or Joshua’s successful application to the Critical Language Scholarship, our Oxford University abroad program and multiple internships,” Hoffman said. “They are both extremely engaged both on and off campus with the issues that impact our communities, and they are truly impressive in their commitments beyond the classroom.”

The Truman Foundation's Finalist Selection Committee selected 191 students from 136 institutions to interview with the Foundation's Regional Review Panels between March 1 and April 3. In 2024, the foundation received 709 applications from 285 institutions.

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