Lexi Raikes reacts when UofL President Neeli Bendapudi tells her she won the 2021 Harry S. Truman Scholarship

University of Louisville junior Lexi Raikes has won Kentucky’s only Harry S. Truman Scholarship for 2021.

The award, valued at $30,000, is given to just 62 U.S. college students annually. It is the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship foundation announced the winners April 14.

Raikes, a Campbellsville, Kentucky, native, plans to use the scholarship toward her goal of attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., to earn a law degree and a Master’s of Science in Georgetown’s Addiction Policy and Practice program.

“Addiction is one of the most under-addressed and mistreated problems in our society today,” Raikes said. “It has deeply impacted our state, my community and my own family. I hope to dedicate my career in public service to dismantling policies that stand in the way of harm reduction and comprehensive recovery.”

Raikes heard the news during an emotional surprise video call with UofL President Neeli Bendapudi.

“You are the best of the Cardinal Spirit,” Bendapudi said. “You persevered through an extremely challenging year to earn this prestigious scholarship.”

There were more than 800 applicants for this year’s Truman Scholarship from more than 300 colleges and universities. 

“Our best students stack up against anybody’s best students,” said Charlie Leonard, who directs UofL’s Office of National and International Scholarship Opportunities. “We hit the jackpot with Lexi, who we know will maximize this opportunity to facilitate positive change in the world.”

Raikes will graduate from UofL in May 2022 with a triple major in English, French and political science. She is executive vice president of the UofL Student Government Association, member of the Engage Lead Serve Board and an intern for the Salzburg Global Seminar American Studies Program. She is also involved in UofL’s raiseRED student fundraiser for pediatric cancer and blood disease research.

Fourteen UofL students have been Truman Scholars since 1977, the year the national program was launched. The last UofL student to win a Truman Scholar was in 2017.