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Four juniors advance as finalists for Truman Scholarships

Thu, 04/03/2014

LAWRENCE — Each of the four juniors nominated by the University of Kansas for 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholarships has been selected as a finalist for the up-to $30,000 scholarships. Each will interview with the Foundation’s Regional Review Panel on Monday, April 7, in Kansas City, Mo. The Foundation reviewed 655 students and selected 204 students from 138 institutions as finalists.

Finalists were selected based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement. The four juniors are members of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program:

  • Emma Halling, a junior from Elkhart, Ind., majoring in American studies and women, gender & sexuality studies
  • Virginia Helgeson, a junior from Olathe majoring in social welfare and religious studies
  • Leigh Loving, a junior from McPherson majoring in genetics
  • Micah Melia, a junior from Prairie Village majoring in anthropology

“These four students embody the commitment among all of KU’s undergraduates to service, to building strong communities and to working together to solve problems,” said Jonathan Earle, professor of history and director of the University Honors Program. “Through the Honors Program, we assist these students in translating that passion for service and education into future leadership. We are excited about their continued success.” 

Since 1981, 17 KU students have become Truman scholars, including Hannah Sitz, who became a scholar last year. The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd U.S. president. Truman Scholar nominees are supported by the nationally recognized University Honors Program.

“To have all four nominees be named finalists is a great achievement for our students,” said Anne Wallen, coordinator for national scholarships and fellowships with the University Honors Program. “It is a tribute to the strong academic careers of our students, but also to the strength of KU’s mission of educating leaders. These four are outstanding representatives of all of our undergraduate students.”

Regional interviews occur between March 6 and April 11, and all winners will be announced Wednesday, April 16. Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class, and be committed to careers in government or the nonprofit sector.

More information about KU’s nominees:

Emma Halling is the daughter of Greg Halling and Patricia Latshaw Halling from Elkhart Ind. She attended school in Hutchinson before moving to Indiana, where she graduated from Marian High School in Mishawaka, Ind. She is current student body vice president of KU and a member of the University Honors Program. Halling is double-majoring in American studies and women, gender & sexuality studies, and she is pursuing two minors in policy studies and economics.

Virginia “Ginny” Helgeson is the daughter of Douglas and Donna Helgeson of Olathe, where she attended Olathe South High School. She is president of the Ecumenical Campus Ministry’s Sexuality Education Committee and a member of the University Honors program. Ginny is double-majoring in social welfare and religious studies.

Leigh Loving is the daughter of James and Dawn Loving; Mendota Heights, Minn. Originally from McPherson, she is a graduate of McPherson High School. At KU Loving founded the Jayhawk Health Initiative, a pre-health service learning organization, and is a member of the University Honors Program. She is pursuing a major in genetics.

Micah Melia is the daughter of Tom and Anne Melia of Prairie Village, where she graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School. Melia is a member of the University Honors Program and has been development director for the Center for Community Outreach and currently serves as a program coordinator in the organization. She is majoring in anthropology and minoring in psychology.



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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here: http://bit.ly/1awodaa
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.


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