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Campaign gifts for programs that expand MSU's capacity for and commitment to unlocking student potential give students like Tad Harnett access to higher education and other resources they need to succeed.

The Hilleman Scholars Program launched in 2016 with the goal of supporting recent Montana high school graduates who have demonstrated great potential but need a little help to achieve the dream of a college education. The program is named after Dr. Maurice Hilleman, a 1941 graduate of MSU who went on to develop over 40 vaccines and who is credited with saving more lives than any other medical scientist of the 20th century.

As a member of the inaugural Hilleman Scholars class, Tad Harnett is majoring in both anthropology and psychology at Montana State. Harnett was living with his grandparents when he applied for the Hilleman Scholars Program as a senior at Flathead High School in Kalispell.

“It was definitely a relieving feeling to know that I was going to have resources to help me get through university,” Harnett said. But even more than the financial assistance, it has been the academic support that has proven most valuable. 

The Hilleman Scholars Program offers a Summer Success Academy in which students begin the fall semester in July with intensive math and writing classes. Contingent upon satisfactory academic progress, financial support for a study abroad experience is offered following the junior year. And the Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success on campus plays an instrumental role in cultivating bright minds.

The philosophy of giving back is also embodied in the program as upper division Hilleman scholars mentor students new to the program. Harnett explained, “What we say is that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ ”

After graduating, Harnett hopes to work to address the lack of mental health resources in Montana. He envisions a role in public administration, but none of it would have been possible without the support he received at MSU.