Powell BuildingOffice of the President

Meet Breanna Detwiler: Elon's history-making scholar

Breanna DetwilerThis spring I had the pleasure of calling Breanna Detwiler to tell her she had made Elon history! Breanna was named a 2008 Truman Scholar — one of the most prestigious academic awards in the nation and the first ever awarded to an Elon student. Just a few days later, we received word that Breanna had also been selected as a Udall Scholar, another first for an Elon student.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress to support outstanding young leaders who plan to pursue careers in public service. The Udall scholarship, named for former Arizona Congressman Morris Udall, is given each year to students who have shown a commitment to pursuing careers that help the environment.

Breanna, a junior from Warrenton, Va., is an environmental studies major with minors in nonviolence and religious studies. With research interests in food security and farmland conservation, she plans to attend law school at Georgetown University for the study of environmental law.

“Land conservation has always been on my radar,” she says. “I’ve had some really great professors who have mentored me and pushed me beyond classes to look at these issues in different ways.”

Breanna exemplifies an academically talented and engaged Elon student. She has made the President’s List during all three years of her study. She manages the Elon Community Garden, where students, faculty and staff rent small plots to grow their own food. She volunteered last summer as a student mentor in our Elon Academy program, which encourages talented Alamance- Burlington high school students with financial need to earn college degrees. She’s also a member of Whole Earth, College Democrats and the Student Environmental Sustainability Council, just to name a few of her activities.

As a Truman Scholar, Breanna will receive $30,000 for post-graduate study and a host of other benefits, including participation in a special summer institute following graduation from Elon.

Breanna’s selection as a Truman and Udall Scholar is well-deserved recognition of her academic accomplishments and further evidence of a growing scholarly climate on campus. It also marks a significant milestone for Elon and its growing national reputation for academic excellence. Increasing the level of academic challenge is one of our priorities as we encourage more students to apply for these honors.

We have established several prestigious scholarships recently to recognize and encourage academic excellence. Starting this fall, the Lumen Prize will provide $15,000 scholarships to rising juniors whose intellectual pursuits inspire us all. Those awards can be used during students’ junior and senior years to fund tuition costs as well as research, study abroad and internships.

Lumen Scholars, along with students in our Honors and Fellows programs, are prime candidates for top national awards. Crucial to their success are Elon’s dedicated faculty, who advise and mentor talented students, helping them to reach their full potential and take on academic challenges early in their Elon careers. English professor Janet Myers, who serves as Elon’s fellowship adviser, is key to this process, guiding students through the fellowship application process. She has worked with several students as they applied for Truman, Fulbright and Rotary fellowships.

Behind every celebrated young scholar are a host of proud faculty members who take particular delight in seeing students achieve and surpass their goals, going far beyond what they believed was possible. We all take great pride in Breanna’s success, and anticipate those who will follow in her footsteps in the years to come.


Leo M. Lambert