Tuesday March 28, 2006

Truman Scholar

Junior Emily Nohner wins the prestigious Truman Scholarship for confronting injustice on the world stage. It's the first time a UD student has won the honor.

It doesn't surprise Chris Duncan, chair of the political science department at the University of Dayton, that Emily Nohner is one of just 75 college juniors around the nation to win the prestigious and highly competitive 2006 Truman Scholarship.

Each scholarship provides $30,000 for graduate study. Truman Scholars -- all of whom are committed to careers in public service -- are selected on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of "making a difference." It's the second scholarship Nohner has won this month. She's this year's recipient of the University of Dayton's $1,700 John E. Riley Award in recognition of student leadership and service.

Last spring, Nohner sat across a University of Dayton conference table and respectfully confronted H. Lee Scott Jr., president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart, about the company's working conditions in developing countries. She landed this meeting by tenacity and left it with an invitation to fly to Bangladesh and tour Wal-Mart factories with a team of ethical auditors.

Last summer, she worked and lived with families in war-torn Uganda and Rwanda. As president of the University of Dayton's peace and social justice service club Pax Christi, she organized the Dayton region's first GuluWalk Day to raise funds and awareness of the plight of Uganda's children. As many as 40,000 children living in rural northern Uganda walk into the town of Gulu and other urban centers to sleep in safety and avoid abduction by the rebel army.

She's been active in calling attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and will travel this summer to Zambia, where she will work to empower women in Lubwe.

"Her desire to make a difference in the world and to confront injustice, world poverty and genocide grows stronger and stronger with each passing day, and she has become a leading voice on campus for social justice issues," said Duncan, who serves as the Truman faculty representative at UD. "She has all the makings of what is usually called a 'transformational leader.' I believe that her conviction, intellect and personal witness will one day lead her to an international stage, and that the world will be made better and less broken as a result of her presence."

Nohner, a 20-year-old Omaha, Neb., resident who's majoring in political science with a minor in international studies, cried when she heard the news of her selection. After being named a finalist, she traveled to Kansas City, Mo., on March 10 for an interview by a panel that included a university president, a judge and previous Truman Scholars. It's the first time a University of Dayton student has ever been named a Truman Scholar, according to Duncan.

"I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world right now. This is a tremendous blessing and something that I will be grateful for all the rest of my life," said Nohner, who hopes eventually to work with a humanitarian organization in a war-torn spot on the globe. "In my interview I told the judges that if I were to be a recipient, it would mean the world to all those on campus, at home and abroad who have put their faith in me."

Scholars receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premiere graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients are U.S. citizens with outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, rank in the top quarter of their class, and are committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector. The 75 Truman Scholars were selected from among 598 candidates nominated by 311 colleges and universities.

"This scholarship is often a precursor to the Rhodes Scholarship or Marshall Scholarships for many students," Duncan said.

The 2006 Truman Scholars will assemble May 14-21 for a weeklong leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. The scholars will be invited to attend a 10-week Washington Seminar Institute the summer following their 2007 college graduation that will include internships and graduate-level seminars and workshops in Washington, D.C.

The University of Dayton nominated four juniors -- Jacqueline Chura, Erin Moosbrugger, Andrea Smith-Rippeon and Nohner -- for the honor. Smith-Rippeon also was named one of 243 finalists and was interviewed in Washington, D.C. on March 8.

"All four of our nominees were outstanding this year," Duncan said.

For a listing of the 2006 Truman Scholars and more information, click here.

Contact Emily Nohner at (937) 627-8433 and Chris Duncan at (937) 229-3648.