Montana State University

MSU inaugurates Hilleman Scholars Program for Montanans in honor of world’s most famous vaccinologist

July 26, 2016 -- From MSU News Service

The inaugural class of Montana State University Hilleman Scholars pose with MSU President Waded Cruzado, faculty and mentors during a reception in the Strand Union Building on July 26, 2016. The 51 Montana scholars began an intensive four-week summer session this week on the MSU campus to help prepare them for their freshman year. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – Fifty-one Montana high school seniors from across the state have been selected for their effort and potential as the inaugural class of Montana State University’s Hilleman Scholars Program, named after one of the state’s most influential, but least known, native sons.

“This is unlike any large scholarship program we’ve had before,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “We’re looking for potential all across Montana in keeping with the life story of Maurice Hilleman.”

Maurice Hilleman was born on a farm near Miles City in 1919. His twin sister died during childbirth and his mother died two days later. He was raised by an uncle and aunt and as a kid helped the household make ends meet by raising chickens.

Hilleman had been planning to go to work at a local department store in Miles City for a career when his brother told him that MSU – then Montana State College – offered scholarships. Hilleman applied, won a scholarship and graduated in 1941.

Over the course of the next 43 years, Hilleman became the world’s leading vaccinologist, developing more than 40 important vaccines for human and animal health. Of the 14 vaccines commonly given to children, Hilleman developed nine. Among them are vaccines for measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis and pneumonia. He spent the majority of his career at Merck & Co., which recently estimated his vaccines have been given to more than 750 million people worldwide.

When Hilleman died in 2005, scientists quoted in his New York Times obituary credited him with saving more lives than any other person in the 20th century.

In honor of Hilleman’s legacy, MSU is inaugurating the Hilleman Scholars Program for Montana residents. Hilleman Scholars are selected based on personal essays, nomination letters, grades and financial need. But paramount in the selection process is evidence of significant academic, leadership and career potential.  

“While this scholarship provides them with assistance, it is not a full ride or a free ride. To be accepted as a Hilleman Scholar, students must commit to work at their education beyond ordinary expectations and help future scholars that come after them,” Cruzado said.  

The Hilleman Scholars come from more than 26 cities and towns across Montana that include many small towns in the state such as Circle, Chinook, Stanford, Valier, Conrad and Pinesdale.

Hilleman Scholars are eligible for up to $8,000 for their first year and $4,000/year for each year thereafter. Contingent upon satisfactory academic progress and exemplary commitment to the program in the first three years, scholars can also be eligible for an additional $3,000 at the end of their junior year to apply toward a study abroad experience. Scholars are expected to graduate in four years.

The MSU Hilleman Scholars Program begins with a month-long Summer Success Academy on the MSU campus beginning July 24. The intensive program is designed to boost college-level math, writing and critical thinking skills and to equip students with effective learning strategies for the coming academic year. The program is administered through MSU’s Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success. The scholarship website is:

Intensive academic support continues for MSU Hilleman Scholars throughout their college careers. Beyond access to some of the university’s top faculty, this includes tutoring, mentoring, advising and more. By their third year, Hilleman Scholars are expected to pass this support on by serving as mentors and tutors to new students.

During the school year, Hilleman Scholars are required to engage in 10 hours per week of activities designed to prepare them how to be a successful student, intern or employee. The focus of these experiences will shift each year as students progress through college.

“More than 70 years ago, a farm kid from Miles City changed the direction of his life thanks to a scholarship to MSU and in so doing changed the direction of the world, saving hundreds of millions of lives along the way,” Cruzado said. “We want to honor the legacy of Maurice Hilleman and the potential of the sons and daughters of Montana through this scholarship. We want to help them be the next ones to change the world.” 

Hilleman Scholars are listed below by name and hometown:

Ericka Alden, Billings

Karli Burke, Great Falls

Kacie Cummings, Cascade

Bryce Dawkins, Bozeman

Mikhaela Digan, Fairfield

Emily Frey, Billings

Holly Froelich, Bozeman

Ian Furstenberg, Billings

Justice Graham, Bozeman

Colten Grandy, Helena

Jonathan Hamilton, Bozeman

Tad Harenett, Whitefish

Katona Helland, Three Forks

Eli Horn, Bigfork

Kelsey Hughes, Kalispell

ZaDavion Jay, Conrad

Spencer Jessop, Pinesdale

Rial Johnson, Stevensville

Gabriell Jones, Great Falls

Isbah Khan, Billings

Brittney Kostelecky, Billings

Hailey Lachenauer, Corvallis

Aubri McCann, Chinook

Kaitlin McCormack, Bozeman

Waylon McKay, Ballantine

Mariah Millhouse, Missoula

Hannah Montgomery, Fairfield

Dale Morehouse-Huffman, Great Falls

Shelby Morris, Missoula

Elizabeth Nemetchek, Missoula

Cole Norskog, Stanford

Caitriauna Olson, Circle

Delacie Oneill, Bozeman

Marlene OrtizMartinez, Bozeman

Eliana Robinett, Seeley Lake

Jacqueline Rodriguez, Belgrade

Kimberly Rogers, Belgrade

Jacob Rogers, Bozeman

Orlando Salvador, Livingston

Celina Shepherd, Victor

Alyssa Stark, Bozeman

Jordan Stoltz, Valier

Ryan Talsma, Ronan

Evan Vinger, Bozeman

Walter Walker, Helena

Nicole Wall, Kalispell

Kianna Weiss, Bozeman

Naquan Williams, Bozeman

Spencer Willman, Chinook

Caitlyn Hencley, Helena

Liam Grundler, Helena

Contact: Carina Beck, director, MSU Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success, or (406) 994-7627

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