Elon juniors named finalists for 2011 Truman Scholarship

Two Elon University students have been named finalists for a 2011 Truman Scholarship, a prestigious national fellowship awarded each year to college juniors with goals of working in education, government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, or elsewhere in public service.

Elon University juniors Katherine “Katie” E. Kenney and Francis “Frank” Stiefel IV

Katherine “Katie” E. Kenney and Francis “Frank” Stiefel IV were among 197 finalists from 134 institutions nationwide. Finalists were publicized Feb. 25 by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, established by Congress in 1975 as a memorial to the 33rd president.

Winners are announced March 31 and receive a scholarship of up to $30,000 for graduate study. Recipients must also have strong leadership skills and a record of high academic achievement. Sixty scholars were named in 2010.

Kenney, a double major in environmental studies and English, said she wants to pursue a career working with women’s empowerment issues in South Asia, specifically in ways that involve women in community sustainability and agriculture projects.

The Honors Fellow and Periclean Scholar is currently working on her Honors thesis on women’s roles in water management in rural Maharashtra, India. The daughter of James and Lori Kenney of Midlothian, Va., she is the Avalon coordinator for Elon Volunteers! and editor for Visions Magazine.

“For me, the benefits of the Truman Scholarship would be twofold,” Kenney said. “It would allow me the opportunity to pursue my passions by helping to fund a graduate school education. Second, I would have the honor of being part of a community of like-minded individuals dedicated to making positive changes on national and global levels.”

Stiefel, a political science and African/African-American studies double major, said his post-Elon plans are to study human rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The son of Frank and Tracy Stiefel of Haddonfield, N.J., he founded the Elon chapter of STAND, a student-led anti-genocide coalition. The Periclean Scholar has also been active with the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, Students for Peace and Justice, and Invisible Children.

“This award would allow me the opportunity to study at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I will be able to receive my master’s degree in the study of human rights,” Stiefel said. “My graduate studies will help me expand my knowledge on the field of human rights and kick-start my career of becoming a prominent humanitarian activist.”

Breanna Detwiler ‘09 was the first Elon University student to win a Truman Scholarship. She received the honor in 2008.