National Fellowships Accomplishments Put UVM in Good Company
- By Britten Elaine Chase
This year UVM is one of only seven institutions to have winners in four of the country’s highly competitive undergraduate scholarship competitions: the Truman, Udall, Goldwater and Boren scholarships. These prestigious awards seek to acknowledge the country's most outstanding sophomores and juniors in a broad array of disciplines.
“UVM’s national scholarship winners represent the intellectual diversity, the dedication to research and discovery, and the commitment to public service that the university seeks to support,” says Abu Rizvi, dean of the Honors College, which houses the Office of National Fellowships. The Truman Scholarship seeks to identify and support current juniors who have demonstrated significant leadership abilities and plan to pursue a career in public service. The Udall Scholarship acknowledges sophomores and juniors who have been outstanding leaders in areas related to the environment. The Goldwater recognizes sophomores and juniors who have done outstanding work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and who also seek to become researchers in their disciplines. The Boren is a prestigious study-abroad scholarship for critical language acquisition. “Our students have put us in excellent company,” Rizvi continues. “Their accomplishments show that we compete very well against well known and larger universities.”
The list of universities with at least one winner in each of the four scholarships in the 2011-2012 academic year is dominated by prestigious private and large public institutions:
- Arizona State University
- Dartmouth College
- Princeton University
- University of Maryland-College Park
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Vermont
- University of Virginia
Brent Reader, ’13 was one of 55 students nationwide to receive a Truman Scholarship. A Swanton, Vt. native, Reader joined the Vermont National Guard in 2004, and was trained as a combat medic. He has received numerous military honors, including a Combat Medic Badge. Reader came to UVM in 2010 with a goal of pursuing a social work degree, and eventually a master’s degree, which he plans to use to improve mental and physical health care for soldiers upon their return from war.
Tad Cooke ’14 was one of 70 students nationwide to receive a Udall Scholarship. A Charlotte, Vt. native and a sustainable food and energy systems major, Cooke has worked to fundamentally rethink the way organic material has been used and reused in the way that society produces food and energy. In 2012 Cooke, along with fellow student Erick Crockenberg ’14, received first place in UVM's Clean Energy Fund competition for their proposal to research and then build a carbon-negative, compost heated production and research greenhouse on UVM’s Miller Farm. This would be the first greenhouse of its kind in the country. After graduating from UVM, Cooke intends to create a company that designs self-sustaining food and energy systems which will create healthy foods while producing the energy that can be used to run the system.
Susan Leggett ’13 was the first UVM student to be named a Goldwater Scholar since 2009. A biochemistry major and Honors College student, Leggett has been conducting research on lung fibrosis in the Department of Pathology at the College of Medicine with Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger. She also co-authored a publication in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. Her strong research background aligns with her interest in medicine; she is also a part of UVM’s highly competitive premedical enhancement program, and she is a regular volunteer at Fletcher Allen Hospital. Susan is originally from Salem, N.H. After she graduates from UVM she plans to pursue an M.D/PhD. Ultimately, she hopes to conduct research in a clinical immunodiagnostic research laboratory and teach at a medical university.
Erin Kerr ’14 was one of 131 students who received a Boren Scholarship, which will fund her study abroad experience in Serbia and Bosnia during the spring of 2013. Kerr’s long-standing intellectual interest in the former Yugoslavia is rooted in the connections she made to the Bosnian community in her hometown of St. Johnsbury, Vt. After coming to UVM, she became engrossed in the study of geopolitics through her coursework in the geography department. In addition to being an Honors College student, she has been working on an independent study with Professor Pablo Bose examining how former-Yugoslav countries have been affected by nationalism and colonialism, as well as how these countries fit into world-system theory. While in Serbia, Kerr plans to continue her research by examining how land distribution along ethnic lines was a factor throughout the Yugoslav Wars as well as the reparation and peace-building processes.
Several other UVM students were recognized in these competitions. Alma Arteaga ’13 and Eliza Kelsten ’13 were Truman Scholarship Finalists, David Bernstein ’13 and Kanita Chaudhry ’13 were Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mentions, and Hannah Gibson ’14 and Jeremiah Rozman ’14 were Boren Scholarship Finalists.
Since 2005, when the university put a centralized fellowship outreach and support program in place, 96 UVM students have won or been finalists in the country’s most prestigious and competitive competitions, including the Fulbright, Rhodes, Goldwater, Marshall, Udall, Truman, Madison, Gilman and Boren Overseas scholarships.