Public Service Scholar

Education policy and conflict resolution combined by Truman winner
Thursday, May 2, 2013

Simon Boehme '14 says his Truman Scholarship of $30,000 will enable him "to serve as an advocate so every child has every opportunity to become successful."

He plans to explore interests in education policy and conflict resolution through a master's degree in education policy and a law degree.

Until then, Boehme's schedule is packed.

In between his research assistant jobs at ILR's Scheinman Institute on Conflict and the Cornell Law School, he's preparing for work this summer at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Boehme steals a few quiet moments here and there to shape his ILR senior honors thesis -- on teacher evaluations, one of the hottest issues in public education.

That's in addition to fine tuning the new campus clubs he started. The Cornell Global Law Brigade sent 26 students to Panama to provide pro bono legal services in rural communities; Red Ideas promotes innovations to improve people's lives. During the past two years, Red Ideas has provided $4,000 so that students can implement their ideas.

Boehme also helped create the 500-Hour Challenge at Cornell's Rose House, "to get the West Campus dorm engaged in public service."

In his fourth year of serving on the Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center Board of Directors in his home state of Michigan, Boehme often doesn't have time to eat. When he does, he enjoys a warm chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Last summer, Boehme researched and wrote policy at the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement in Mysore, India.

During the school year, he works as an ILR Ambassador, hosting prospective students during campus visits.

If Boehme needs an icebreaker, he can tell them about leading Kalamazoo High School in Michigan to win the first Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. The grand prize? President Barack Obama spoke at the Class of 2010 graduation.

If that doesn't interest visitors, Boehme can chat up his 2011 internship at the White House.

Boehme is among 62 college juniors nationwide – including Samuel Ritholtz CALS '14 -- recognized this year with a Truman Scholarship for "exceptional leadership potential" and commitment to careers in public service.

In addition to receiving financial support for graduate school, scholars are given priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and federal government internship opportunities.

Applicants are rated on leadership potential, intellectual ability and the likelihood of "making a difference," according to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, which sponsors the scholarships.

Congress established the foundation in 1975 and funds its activities through a U.S. Treasury trust fund. There have been 2,844 Truman Scholars since the first awards were made in 1977.