Two WUSTL students named Truman Scholars

University among only six institutions with multiple recipients

Two Washington University in St. Louis students have been selected as 2012 Truman Scholars. Junior Arts & Sciences majors Madeleine Daepp and Ethan Lynch both will receive $30,000 in funding, including $3,000 for their senior year and $27,000 for two or three years of graduate study.

This highly competitive federal scholarship is awarded to U.S. juniors based on academic performance, leadership and dedication to public service.

The 54 scholars in the 2012 class were selected from among 587 candidates nominated by 292 colleges and universities. Candidates are selected after an arduous application process. WUSTL is one of six institutions nationwide to have multiple Truman Scholars. (View the entire list at

“This is such a great accomplishment for our students and an honor for the university given these very stiff odds,” says Joy Z. Kiefer, PhD, assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, director of undergraduate research and WUSTL’s Truman scholarship representative.

Truman Scholars receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, along with leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.

Traditionally, when WUSTL students are named Truman Scholars, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton invites them into his office to share the good news. Keeping with tradition, Wrighton told Daepp in his office. Because Lynch is studying abroad in Jordan, Wrighton used Skype to make the special announcement.

Madeleine Daepp

Daepp, a native of Lewisburg, Pa., is majoring in economics and in mathematics.

Both of her parents are mathematicians at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. Growing up, dinner conversations in her home centered on abstruse mathematical concepts mixed with ideas about the importance of living and eating in a locally sustainable way.

Her father, from Bern, Switzerland, was raised in a culture where fresh, seasonal foods are a priority. Daepp spent summers in Switzerland and, as a result, she is fluent in Swiss German, German and French.

Daepp came to WUSTL as a Lien Scholar. Based on academic merit, this scholarship is offered to 15 incoming freshmen. At the university, Daepp has earned an astounding 13 A-plus grades (typically reserved for only the most exceptional performances) in rigorous math and economics curricula.

As co-president of Burning Kumquat, a student-run garden, Daepp has led many efforts on campus and in the St. Louis community to raise awareness about the economic and environmental issues surrounding food production. She worked with members of university administration and food service to include produce from the student garden in the dining facilities and to facilitate a university farmer’s market for the campus community during the growing season.

She also secured the competitive Gephardt Institute for Public Service Civic Engagement grant to aid in the implementation of an environmental education and gardening project for inner-city youth in St. Louis.

Daepp is tentatively planning to earn a law degree before embarking on a joint master’s degree program in agricultural law and economics.

“I’m hoping to work in agricultural policy,” she says. “I would really like to mediate between farmers, researchers and policymakers to encourage the innovation and implementation of more sustainable food production practices.”

Kiefer, who advises scholars through the application process, says she has no doubt that Daepp will make important and lasting contributions.

“As Madeleine continues to combine her commitment to advocacy and her passion for developing sustainable agricultural policies, there is every reason to believe that she will accomplish her goal of shifting the culture of food production in the United States,” Kiefer says. “You will not find a person who is more devoted to the realization of her dream.”

Ethan Lynch

‪Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton uses Skype, under the watchful eyes of Joy Kiefer, PhD, to tell Ethan Lynch he was named a Truman Scholar. Lynch is studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan.‬ (Credit: Whitney Curtis)

Lynch, a native of Louisville, Ky., is majoring in international and area studies with a second major in Arabic language and literature and a minor in political science.

He is studying Arabic this spring in Amman, Jordan. Living with a Jordanian family, he is required to speak Arabic at all times.

“I was on a rural retreat with my Arabic program in Jordan when I found out,” Lynch says. “Chancellor Wrighton and Dean Kiefer Skyped me and told me the news. I can’t say how stunned and honored I am to become a Truman Scholar; I’m so happy to win it for both Wash. U. and my home state of Kentucky, and I can’t wait to see where this scholarship will take me.

“The $30,000 for grad school, the extensive network of past scholars and the government internships are all fantastic — but perhaps the coolest and most surreal part was simply getting to Skype with Chancellor Wrighton and hear the happy news from a tent in the middle of the Jordanian wilderness!”

Lynch is studying abroad, courtesy of a David L. Boren Scholarship. Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, the national award is presented to distinguished undergraduates seeking to pursue a career promoting U.S. national security.

Lynch next will head to Morocco for a summer 2012 internship with the U.S. Department of State’s Consulate in Casablanca. (In the summer of 2010, he studied abroad in Morocco to develop his language skills; last fall, he interned with the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C.)

Lynch plans to earn a master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and eventually work as a diplomat for the United States Foreign Service. Fluent in French as well as Arabic, Lynch hopes to use his language skills and education to serve in the Middle East and North Africa. “I’d like to work in the public diplomacy sphere, strengthening and repairing our often-troubled relations with Arabs in the region,” he says.

Kiefer says Lynch is able to command the respect of his peers on campus as well as of faculty and global partners through his mature presence and keen intellect.

“From the moment I met Ethan, I was struck by his passion and commitment to make a change in the area of public diplomacy,” Kiefer says. “Ethan is a born leader: charismatic and hard-working with strong values and a remarkable ability to coalesce people around a common goal.

The 2012 Truman Scholars will assemble Tuesday, May 22, for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., on Sunday, May 27.

Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president. The foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service.

The activities of the foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. There have been 2,844 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.