University News

Duncan ’15 receives Truman Scholarship

Vision for education reform distinguished Duncan from 655 candidates nationwide

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Out of 655 candidates, Hannah Duncan ’15 was selected last week as one of 59 nationwide undergraduate recipients of the Truman Scholarship. 

Duncan, who is studying abroad at Oxford University for the entire academic year, is the first Brown student in three years to receive the scholarship since Susan Yue ’12 claimed the award in 2011.

The scholarship is dedicated to “supporting the potential of terrific young people from across the United States committed to public service,” according to its website. The award includes up to $30,000 in graduate study funding and the opportunity to participate in a leadership program in Liberty, Mo.

Duncan’s commitments to both her classics concentration and national education reform set her apart from other Brown applicants, said Linda Dunleavy, associate dean of the College for fellowships.

“Hannah was an unusual candidate,” Dunleavy said, adding that Duncan’s pursuit of a liberal arts education and “her fierce commitment to making a real difference in education reform” distinguished her as a strong candidate.

Duncan said she was “totally shocked” when she found out she won the scholarship. “I thought someone had played a joke on me at first,” she said.

Duncan did not plan on applying for the scholarship at first, but after learning more about the program, she began to appreciate how it “creates a community of people who are really passionate about a variety of different things,” she said.

Each year, anywhere from 25 to 40 Brown students enter the University’s internal application process for the scholarship. In this stage of the process, candidates essentially complete an entire version of the Truman application, Dunleavy said. A board selects six to eight applicants out of the internal candidate pool for interviews and then narrows the group down to four students to nominate for the scholarship.

The Truman committee then selects some of the nominees to go through an additional round of essays and interviews, Dunleavy said.

“It’s brutal,” Duncan said of the application process, for which she had to fly to Arizona from England to complete the regional round of interviews.

She added that the University was cooperative in working with her while she was abroad. “Dean Dunleavy was very helpful in helping me go through drafts of my application,” she said.

One of the most important extracurricular activities at Brown that helped her application was Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment, Duncan said. She hopes to continue pursuing her interest in education reform at Stanford University’s Law and Education joint degree program, she added.

Duncan was also awarded a Royce Fellowship this year, which she will use to research the evolution of the Child Development Group of Mississippi, according to a Tuesday University press release.

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