KU News Release

Feb. 16, 2011
Contact: Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett, University Honors Program, (785) 864-4225

Four students nominated to compete for national Truman scholarships

More Information

LAWRENCE — Four students at the University of Kansas have been nominated to compete for Harry S. Truman Scholarships. The national awards provide up to $30,000 for college students preparing for leadership in public service.

KU’s nominees are

— Erin Elizabeth Atwood, a senior from Topeka majoring in genetics and Spanish
— Julia Arielle Barnard, a junior from Lawrence majoring in history
— Meredith Marie Pavicic, a senior from Leawood majoring in women, gender and sexuality studies
— Cara Neufeld Smith, a senior from Topeka majoring in applied behavioral science with a community health concentration

The University Honors Program coordinates the Truman scholarship nomination application process at KU.

A selection committee is reviewing applications from about 600 nominees for the Truman Foundation in Washington, D.C. Regional panels interview about 200 semifinalists in March and make recommendations for the 75 scholarships available nationally.

Truman scholars are chosen on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and the likelihood of “making a difference.” Candidates must be planning careers in public service and must propose a solution to a public policy issue as part of their application. Winners will be announced March 29.

Scholars must work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of a foundation-funded graduate degree program as a condition of receiving Truman funds.

Since 1981, 16 KU students have become Truman scholars. The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 and made its first scholarship awards in 1977.

Two former Truman scholars serve in President Barack Obama’s cabinet: Janet Napolitano (1977, Santa Clara University) is secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Susan E. Rice (1984, Stanford University) is U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

More information about KU’s nominees is below.

From Lawrence 66046
Julia Arielle Barnard is preparing for a career as research historian whose writing will serve to inform on issues in education, urban life and social policy and ultimately influence change. She plans to seek a graduate degree in history and engage in public service, perhaps through the U.S. Department of Education. Her policy proposal is addressed to Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, to rewrite Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to reallocate funds toward schools and districts with the highest levels of concentrated poverty. This summer, Barnard worked with the award-winning education writer and activist Jonathan Kozol as an intern and research assistant. The experience inspired Barnard to become a scholar with similar impact on educational policy. Kozol has invited Barnard to work with him as an editorial assistant on a forthcoming manuscript. Barnard met Kozol while reading his book “Savage Inequalities” for a sociology class and learned he was speaking in Kansas City. Barnard not only attended the lecture but afterward talked with Kozol about his thoughts on public education. Impressed with her scholarship and curiosity, Kozol invited the KU student to work with him in Cambridge, Mass. At KU, Barnard is recognized for her leadership in expanding the Alternative Breaks program that matches student volunteers with service projects nationwide during semester break periods. To accommodate the growing numbers of students asking to participate, Barnard, as co-coordinator, expanded the program to the summer term. The number of student alternative break volunteers has doubled this year. She is one of three undergraduates serving on a 75-member strategic planning committee for the provost. She is a member of the University Honors Program and serves as an honors program teaching assistant. Barnard is a member of Student Senate and serves on several senate boards and committees. She is the daughter of Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester of Lawrence and a graduate of Lawrence High School.

From Leawood 66206
Meredith Marie Pavicic wants to pursue a medical degree and a master’s degree in public health. She is working toward a career that includes practicing as an obstetrician/gynecologist and performing public service in women’s health. Pavicic has worked in a variety of countries and served for five weeks with public health educators in rural Tanzania and two weeks with a medical service group in rural Nicaragua. Both experiences reminded her that the role of gender in society is vital to building healthy, more democratic communities. She observed: “The practice of medicine is not strictly science, but a complicated relationship between one’s knowledge of biology, culture and human nature.” Pavicic thinks her study of women’s studies will be an asset in practicing medicine. Her policy proposal on the public health effects of intimate partner violence is addressed to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services. She recommends that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force encourage routine screening of women for intimate partner violence. At KU, Pavicic is vice president of the Commission on the Status of Women and has worked to raise awareness among groups on campus about women’s issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault. She has volunteered with the Douglas County AIDS Project and served as hospice volunteer with the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association. Pavicic is National Merit Scholar and a Chancellors Club Scholar. As a sophomore, she was one of 20 students selected for the University Scholars Program, a mentorship program for high-achieving students. She is also a member of the University Honors Program and received an Honors Development Grant in spring 2010. She is the daughter of Rita and Kevin Pavicic and a graduate of Saint Teresa’s Academy, Kansas City, Mo.

From Topeka 66604
Cara Neufeld Smith plans to earn a degree in medicine and a master’s degree in public health. Her long-range interests include serving in a leadership position with the Centers for Disease Control to address chronic health needs and health care disparities. Smith directed her policy proposal on prevention of childhood obesity to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services. Smith proposes using community prevention strategies to address the national crisis of childhood obesity. For the past two years, Smith has received a Kansas Health Foundation Undergraduate Fellowship to help fund work in Kansas communities. Her extensive volunteer service with health related agencies and clinics includes weekly service with Heartland Medical Clinic in Lawrence since May 2009. She also volunteered in summer 2008 with Birthplace at Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka and in summer 2010 as an intern with the Shawnee County Health Agency. In January, Smith led an Alternative Break group of volunteers serving at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. In July 2008, Smith volunteered with the Mennonite Disaster service to rebuild homes destroyed in 2007 by a tornado in Greensburg. On campus, Smith is on the All-Scholarship Hall Council and holds leadership positions in Margaret Amini Scholarship Hall including food board manager for the residence hall. The work involves planning menus for 50 scholarship residents with varying dietary needs and cultural food preferences and working with kitchen staffers to ensure food safety. Smith has been recognized for instituting changes in the hall’s food supplies to support and promote healthy lifestyles. Smith co-directs two campus service agencies through the Center for Community Outreach: Concerned, Active and Aware Students and Community Resources Engaging the Arts through Education. CAAS organizes campaigns to advocate for issues ranging from hunger and homelessness to environmental policy through service projects and educational events. Through CREATE, Smith has developed a cadre of talented students helping to bring art, theater, music and dance to public school children in Lawrence. She is a member of the University Honors Program and the recipient of a 2009 Honors Development Grant. She received a Watkins-Berger Scholarship, a renewable scholarship offered to a select group of outstanding incoming Kansas high school graduates. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society and the Owl Society, KU’s honor society for third-year students. She is the daughter of Roger and Cynthia Smith and a graduate of Topeka High School.

From Topeka 66610
Erin Elizabeth Atwood plans to pursue degrees in medicine and public health with a goal of improving health care access in the United States. She hopes to become a pediatrician working in a public hospital or a public health care clinic serving primarily minority and immigrant populations. Her public policy essay proposes providing comprehensive health care insurance to uninsured, undocumented children in the United States. The proposal is directed to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services. This semester, Atwood is studying in Lima, Peru. She has worked as a research assistant for the Communication Success Project at KU’s Life Span Institute. The project studied communication development of children from Spanish-speaking homes. Her volunteer experiences include serving as a Spanish interpreter for the JayDoc Free Clinic at KU Medical Center. Atwood began working with children with developmental disabilities when she was 12 as a volunteer in free swim classes for Down syndrome children taught by her mother, a physical therapist. As a KU freshman, she volunteered with Natural Ties, a campus service that pairs KU volunteers with “ties” — adults with developmental disabilities — for weekly for social activities. Atwood is now a Natural Ties leader and has focused on shaping the program so that all volunteers learn from their “ties.” As a sophomore, Atwood co-directed an “Into the Streets” annual campaign to motivate students to become involved in community service and activism. The campaign resulted in attracting more than 300 student volunteers for community service and raising $27,000 to bring an internationally renowned speaker to campus to address the need and value of service. The week culminated with the inauguration of Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and helped meet her goal of seeing the university provide 100,000 hours of community service as part of the inauguration. Atwood was one of 20 freshmen selected to serve on the Freshman Leadership Council. She is a member of the University Honors Program and as a sophomore was one of 20 students selected for the University Scholars Program, a mentorship program for high-achieving students. She was also elected president of Lambda Sigma, sophomore honor society. She received a Watkins-Berger Scholarship, a scholarship for top Kansas high schools graduates; a Robert J. Dole Public Service Scholarship; and a Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship. She is the daughter of Jennie and Michael Atwood and a Washburn Rural High School graduate.

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