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Four Swarthmore Juniors Named Truman Scholars

For Immediate Release: April 17, 2006
Contact: Alisa Giardinelli
(610) 690-5717

Four Swarthmore Juniors Named Truman Scholars

Four Swarthmore juniors are winners of the Truman Scholarship for 2006, which recognizes strong leadership potential, intellectual ability, and a commitment to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector. Only 75 students from around the country annually receive the scholarship, which provides $30,000 for graduate study.

Rachel Ackoff of Claremont, Calif., is a political science major with a minor in religion. The daughter of Wendy Herbert and Peter Ackoff, she is a 2003 graduate of Claremont High School. At Swarthmore, Ackoff is a columnist for The Phoenix, the school's weekly newspaper; a founder of the Chester-Swarthmore Partnership for Outdoor Education; and a leader of Ruach, Swarthmore's Jewish student organization. She is also a national leader of the Sierra Student Coalition, the student-run arm of the Sierra Club.

As a sophomore, Ackoff was named a Morris K. Udall Foundation Scholar, which awards scholarships of up to $5,000 to college students in fields related to the environment and to Native American and Alaska Natives. She plans to go on to become an environmental lawyer, a policy analyst, or a public servant.

Bree Bang-Jensen of Burlington, Vt., is a political science major with minors in economics and history. The daughter of Valerie and Lars Bang-Jensen, she is a 2003 graduate of Burlington High School. At Swarthmore, she received funding from the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility to work with and encourage refugee children in the greater Burlington, Vt., area to tell and illustrate their stories of coming to America and living in refugee camps. Her final product will be a book that is distributed to participating children, elementary schools, and refugee camps. She is also a resident advisor, and opinions editor of The Phoenix, and last year served as president of the College Democrats.

Bang-Jensen hopes to pursue a joint degree in law and public policy with a focus in refugee policy or transitional justice systems in post-genocidal states. "It's hard to pin down specific post-graduate program or careers," she says, "but I think ideally I would work for an intergovernmental organization in central or east Africa for a few years after completing my graduate degree. Then I would like to work on foreign policy in the U.S."

Katie Chamblee of Charlotte, N.C., is an English literature major with a minor in history and a 2003 graduate of Myers Park High School. As a Philip Evans Scholar at Swarthmore, she launched a foundation in Ecuador that sponsors students who attend high school in a city one hour from their village. In honor of her work, she received a Young Hero of Hope Award from the Charlotte-based Echo Foundation.

Chamblee, currently studying English literature at Oxford University, hopes to pursue joint degrees in sociology and public policy with a focus on race and poverty in the United States. "I think that pairing a policy degree with an academic degree will allow the practical solutions I will develop as a policy-maker to grow out of a complex theoretical understanding not only of the social problems I care about, but of their current public perception," she says. "I want to rethink the historical and contemporary visions of poverty, equality, and race and consider how these perspectives are shaping policy."

Jonathan Petkun of Portland, Ore., is an economics major with a minor in history. The son of Mary Petkun, he is a 2003 graduate of Beaverton High School. At Swarthmore, he is vice president of the College Democrats and a member of Earthlust. Petkun is also an active member of the Kick Coke Campaign and spoke on behalf of the Committee for Socially Responsible Investing at a meeting of Coca-Cola shareholders last spring.

Petkun plans to attend the U.S. Marine Corps' Officer Candidate School this summer. Ultimately he plans a career in development economics.


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