Ashley Lawson, a junior majoring in mathematics education and mathematics at North Carolina State University, has just been selected as one of 59 recipients of the renowned Truman Scholarship, which invests in the potential of individuals committed to public service leadership.
Lawson, 21, of Sandy Ridge, North Carolina, plans to use the award to earn a PhD in a joint program in public administration and development sociology after first teaching high school mathematics in a rural community.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established in 1975 as a living memorial to the nation’s 33rd president and invests in the education and professional development of undergraduate Americans. In addition to up to $30,000 for graduate education, Truman Scholars are offered summer internships in Washington D.C., mentoring opportunities, and placement in public service jobs.
Lawson is NC State’s 10th Truman Scholar; its ninth recipient, Hanan “Alex” Hsain, was named in spring 2017 and its eighth recipient, Tomás Carbonell, was named in 2002.
This year the Truman Foundation received 756 applications from 312 colleges and universities for the 2018 Truman Scholar class; 52 institutions are home to this new cohort. Recipients were chosen from 194 Finalists who interviewed in one of 16 independent regional review panels. Selection criteria include leadership potential and communication skills, intellectual strength and analytical ability, and the likelihood of the Finalist “making a difference” in public service.
NC State students applied for the campus nomination for endorsement through the Fellowship Advising Office and were selected by the 2017-18 NC State Truman Scholarship campus selection committee:
- Rich Holly, Executive Director for the Arts
- Ken Johnson, Associate Director, University Scholars Program
- Courtney Simpson, Director for the Student Support Services & Student Support Services STEM Programs, TRIO Programs
- Carolyn Veale (committee chair), Assistant Director, University Honors Program
Four outstanding juniors were endorsed: Meredith Bain, Logan Graham, Lawson, and Adrian Teegarden. Of the four, two were selected as Finalists: Graham and Lawson.
Lawson came to NC State as a Park Scholar and is part of the University Scholars Program. She has conducted research with the NC State SMART Collaborative and with the NC Department of Public Instruction on topics such as motivational strategies in STEM education and the implementation of high school mathematics standards. She has served as vice president and currently is president of the North Carolina Council for Teachers of Mathematics Kappa Student Chapter; in addition, she has been a Park Scholarship Ambassador since her freshman year, a College of Education Ambassador since her sophomore year, and has led as director of The Production hip hop dance crew, in which she has been involved since her freshman year. Lawson has served as a teacher assistant for fourth and fifth grade students learning math and engineering concepts in Stokes County Schools for nearly three years. Among her honors are membership in both Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa and the 2017-2018 Outstanding Mathematics Education Student Award, which is a statewide award from the NC Council for Teachers of Mathematics. Lawson is the founder and director of Meet My Future, a grassroots organization dedicated to improving the career development, educational attainment, and opportunity for rural students and communities.
Chancellor Randy Woodson surprised Lawson in-person with the news of her Truman Scholarship selection. “I never imagined that a girl from the middle of nowhere could be a Truman Scholar,” said Lawson, a native of Stokes County. “I am so thankful for everyone who has supported me along the way, particularly the Fellowship Advising Office, the Park Scholarship community, the College of Education, and the College of Sciences. I am excited to join a group of people who are just as dedicated to improving the world around them.”
“I am thrilled that Ashley Lawson was selected for the Truman Scholarship,” said Veale. “NC State students’ continued interest in the Truman Scholarship speaks volumes about their common desire to make a positive impact on society. I was impressed with Ashley’s drive and motivation to serve rural schools as a future leader and educator. Like Ashley, I am from a rural community in North Carolina, so it has been exciting to see others recognize her passion for serving underrepresented and underserved students. It continues to be a pleasure to partner with Tiffany Kershner and Alsace Gallop in the Fellowship Advising Office and to help serve more NC State students possessing aspirations for the greater good.”
The 2018 Truman Scholars will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, on May 27, 2018.
Previous Truman Scholars and Truman Finalists from NC State have included a Udall Scholarship recipient, a Marshall Scholarships recipient, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant recipient, a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans recipient, and a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant recipient.
Click here for video of NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson surprising Lawson with news of her Truman Scholar selection.of her Truman Scholar selection.
Click here for NC State’s press release.
Photography credit: Alsace Gallop/Fellowship Advising Office
The Fellowship Advising Office (FAO) helps NC State’s undergraduate students, graduate students, and alums learn of and apply for nationally competitive and prestigious awards. These awards fund a wide range of opportunities, and many are connected to undergraduate and graduate degree programs or internships, overseas opportunities, and independent projects.