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Four outstanding juniors nominated for Truman Scholarships

Friday, February 13, 2015

LAWRENCE — Four outstanding juniors at the University of Kansas have been nominated to compete for Harry S. Truman Scholarships.

The students, all of whom are from Kansas, are competing for the prestigious national awards, which provide up to $30,000 for college juniors preparing for leadership in public service. The awards are highly competitive, with only about 60 Truman Scholars named each year.

This year’s KU nominees:

  • Caleb Bobo, a junior from Shawnee majoring in political science
  • Ashlie Koehn, a junior from Burns triple-majoring in economics, environmental studies, and global and international studies
  • Gabrielle Murnan, a junior from Pittsburg double-majoring in environmental studies and political science
  • Jennifer Stern, a junior from Lawrence majoring in ecology & evolutionary biology

“The University of Kansas’ primary mission is to educate leaders, and that includes leaders in public service,” said Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships in the KU Honors Program, which selects KU’s nominees and supports them during the application process. “This year’s nominees — Caleb, Ashlie, Gabrielle and Jennifer — are all members of the University Honors Program and tremendous student leaders, and it makes us proud to think of the great things each of them will do as they finish their KU careers and begin the next chapter in their lives and careers.”

Criteria for the nominations include an extensive record of campus and community service; commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit and advocacy sectors; communication skills and a high probability of becoming a "change agent"; and a strong academic record with likely acceptance to the graduate school of the candidate’s choice.

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.

Since 1981, 17 KU students have become Truman scholars, the most recent being Hannah Sitz in 2013.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to President Harry S. Truman. Each year, a selection committee reviews applications from about 600 nominees for the Truman Foundation. Approximately 200 students will be named finalists in late February and invited for regional interviews in March and April. The 60 or so Truman Scholars will be named shortly after.

More information about KU’s nominees is below:

Caleb Bobo

  • Parents: Luke Bobo and Rita Holmes-Bobo
  • Hometown: Shawnee (originally from Ballwin, Missouri)
  • Marquette High School
  • Political science major, minor in African-American studies
  • KU University Scholars Program
  • Founder of the KU Black Men’s Union
  • Selected for the 2014 Institute for Responsible Citizenship summer program in Washington, D.C.
  • Serves in KU Student Senate and on the KU Student Alumni Leadership Board and the KU Student  Endowment Board


Ashlie Koehn

  • Parents: Rodney and Carolyn Koehn
  • Hometown: Burns
  • Fredrick Remington High School
  • Triple major in economics, environmental studies and global & international studies
  • KU Global Scholars Program
  • Member of the Kansas Air National Guard, Staff Sergeant 177th Information Aggressor Squadron, Kansas Air National Guard – Cyber Intelligence Analyst/Aggressor
  • 2013 Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year
  • Currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with Boren and Gilman scholarships
  • 2014 Newman Civic Fellow (Campus Compact)


Gabrielle A. Murnan

  • Parents: Robert and Monica Murnan
  • Hometown: Pittsburg
  • Pittsburg High School
  • Major in environmental studies and political science, minor in public policy
  • KU University Scholars Program
  • 2013 Sustainability Leadership Award at KU
  • Environmental Studies Ruben Zadigan Scholarship
  • Works for the KU Environmental Studies Program as the Environmental Studies Student Ambassador coordinator and in the KU Office of Public Affairs, where she led KU’s participation in the 2014 Free State Festival
  • Has conducted original research with Assistant Professor Paul Stock on confined animal feeding operations in rural Kansas communities


Jennifer Stern

  • Parents: George and Joan Stern
  • Hometown: Lawrence
  • Free State High School
  • Ecology & evolutionary biology major
  • KU University Scholars Program
  • Head peer leader for the Peer Led Undergraduate Supplements in Biology program
  • Has conducted original research on climate change and icthyology with Joy Ward, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, and Leo William Smith, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and assistant curator at the Biodiversity Institute
  • Spent summer 2014 at the New England Aquarium Harbor Discoveries Camp as the marine science camp counselor intern
  • 2014 Honorable Mention for the Udall Scholarship.

KU Today
Course offerings are “among the most comprehensive in the nation,” according to “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs”
98% of University Honors Program graduates are employed or accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation
40% of students in the University Honors Program conduct research before graduation
9 to 1: Average ratio of KU honors students to faculty advisors
1 of only 7 programs nationwide to receive a top rating from “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs” in 2014
60% of University Honors Program students study abroad
KU honors students select their advisors from top-ranked KU faculty