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Burns student named prestigious Truman Scholar at KU

Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to take a Skype call April 12. To her surprise, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end, letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar.

Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar.

“Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience,” Gray-Little said. “She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects.”

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.

Koehn is a member of KU’s University Honors Program majoring in environmental studies, economics, and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change.

In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing KU CAST — Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking. Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted a national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago, sparked Koehn’s involvement with the issue.

“Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “Her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.”

The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process.

“As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system,” Koehn said. “But my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age. KU and Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career.”

Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. A graduate of Fredric Remington High School, she is also an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard, currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate.

In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

Last modified April 23, 2015

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