Josh Sorbe

VERMILLION – South Dakota men’s swimming team member Josh Sorbe already has an eye on his future.

The junior from Brookings, who is double majoring in political science and business administration, has his sights set on attending graduate school.

Sorbe’s work within the community of Vermillion along with the South Dakota legislature out in Washington, D.C., set him up to submit an application to the Truman Foundation for one of the prestigious Truman Scholarships.

According to the Truman Foundation web site, the Truman Scholarship is "the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers in public service." They continue: "Trumans are working in the West Wing, sitting on the US Supreme Court, and serving in federal and state legislatures. They are transforming nonprofits, delivering crucial services and organizing for change in local communities. And Truman Scholars are leaders in academia, research, and health care. They can be found in every branch of the Armed Services. And many make a difference beyond the borders of the United States."

“When I was recruited not only for swimming but through the political science department when I was a high school senior, Truman Scholarship was something that South Dakota staff and faculty had put on my mind,” said Sorbe. “Over the course of my freshman and sophomore year, they really encouraged me to get involved with the community as well as so stuff outside the community, with the South Dakota legislature. I did an internship in Minneapolis.

“Just make sure I immerse myself in public service and what I want to do after graduation. The Truman Scholarship is solely for college juniors looking to attend graduate school in any field of public service.”

Sorbe, the USD student body president, went through a lengthy application process that included as many as 15 drafts for the 3,000-word personal statement that boils down to 500 words per six prompts. The final part of the application process includes a question on a policy proposal where you are to talk about an area of public service or specific state or federal law that you want to revise or want to improve.

“I talk about the culture of education in the state of South Dakota,” said Sorbe. “We have a very low sticker price to attend post-secondary institutions in South Dakota, but we get so little financial aid from the state we have the highest bills.

“We’re ranked third when it comes to net price to attend a South Dakota public institution. Today the necessity of a college degree is becoming more and more important.”

Sorbe, one of 199 Truman Finalists nationwide, in his policy proposal talks about intensive academic advising and course preparation along with state need based funds for scholarships.

The application deadline was early in February and Sorbe, one of two finalists from the state of South Dakota, found out a couple weeks later that he was named a finalist and will be heading to St. Paul on March 25 for an interview.

“The huge cut is getting the interview,” said Sorbe. “Once you have that interview the caliber of competition is a lot higher but the likelihood of being a Truman Scholar is a lot greater.”

Sorbe, an Academic All-Summit League selection in 2017-18, competed in three events at the recently completed Summit League Swimming and Diving Championships. He scored points in all three events (500 free, 1650 free, 400 im) in helping the Coyote men to a team runner-up finish.

“Josh is an exemplary student-athlete at USD,” said swim coach Jason Mahowald. “It’s rare to find a student who combines an outstanding academic record with significant campus leadership and service roles and the demands of being an NCAA Division I athlete.”


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