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Student leaders in environmental studies, American Indian issues nominated for Udall Scholarship

Monday, March 23, 2015

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas undergraduates who excel in the classroom are encouraged to translate their education into serving the community and performing research into future challenges. For four outstanding juniors, their commitment to public service issues central to the careers of Morris and Stewart Udall has led to being nominated for 2015 Udall Foundation Scholarships.

Each year the Udall Foundation awards around 50 scholarships of up to $5,000 and 50 honorable mentions to college students around the nation for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to American Indian nations or to the environment. KU’s University Honors Program worked with each of the nominees to apply for the highly competitive award.

This year’s KU nominees:

  • Frederick Gipp, a junior from Lawrence majoring in strategic communications
  • Ashlie Koehn, a junior from Burns triple-majoring in economics, environmental studies and global & 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 and evolutionary biology.

Student applications include a summary of research, leadership and community service experience as well as an 800-word essay on a speech, legislative act, book or public policy statement by former Arizona Congressman Morris K. Udall or former Arizona Congressman and Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall as well as three letters of recommendation addressing leadership, public service and academic achievements.

“KU’s Honors Program is about more than academic excellence, it is about amazing accomplishments outside of the classroom as well,” said Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships in the University of Kansas Honors Program, which selects KU’s nominees and supports them throughout the application process. “We encourage students to translate their passions into research and service that can have a real benefit to communities, so it is no surprise to have four outstanding students competing for one of the top national scholarship for undergraduates. Each of these nominees is a strong candidate.”

Applications for the Udall Scholarship were submitted March 4. Scholarship winners and honorable mentions are expected in early April.

More information about KU’s nominees is below:

Frederick Gipp, Lawrence, is the son of Albert and Freda Gipp and is a graduate of Lawrence High School. He is majoring in strategic communications in the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications. He has been an active leader in the First Nations Student Association, previously serving as powwow coordinator and president and currently as vice president. He regularly performs Native American Grass Dancing at community events in Lawrence and at powwows throughout the country. He is involved in activities with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and this fall organized a panel of speakers on Native American students in higher education. He was recently hired to work on the KU Office of Admissions Multicultural Recruitment Team. He is a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. 

Ashlie Koehn, of Burns, is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn and is a graduate of Fredrick Remington High School. She is a triple major in economics, environmental studies and global & international studies. She is a member of the Kansas Air National Guard; staff sergeant, 177th Information Aggressor Squadron; Kansas Air National Guard-cyber intelligence analyst/aggressor and was named the 2013 Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year. She is currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with Boren and Gilman scholarships. Koehn also is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and was named a Newman Civic Fellow in 2014.

Gabrielle Murnan, of Pittsburg, is the daughter of Robert and Monica Murnan and is a graduate of Pittsburg High School. She is majoring in environmental studies and political science with a minor in public policy. She conducted original research with Paul Stock on confined animal feeding operations in rural Kansas and their effects on local communities. She is a member of the University Scholars Program and received a 2013 KU Sustainability Leadership Award. She works on campus for the KU Environmental Studies Program as the Environmental Studies Student Ambassador coordinator and in the KU Office of Public Affairs, where she has worked closely with Vice Chancellor Tim Caboni and led KU’s participation in the 2014 and 2015 Free State Festivals. She has been selected for a 2015 CORO Kansas City Internship in Public Affairs.

Jennifer Stern, of Lawrence, is the daughter of George and Joan Stern and is a graduate of Free State High School. She is majoring in ecology & evolutionary biology. She conducted original research on climate change and ichthyology 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. Stern spent summer 2014 at the New England Aquarium Harbor Discoveries Camp as the marine science camp counselor intern. She is member of the University Scholar program and head peer leader for the Peer Led Undergraduate Supplements in Biology program. Stern received a 2014 Honorable Mention for the Udall Scholarship.