The New Wave


April 17, 2008

Ryan Rivet

Maureen Lichtveld
Celebrating the news of their scholarship awards are, from left, students Johanna “Josie” Nevitt, who won a Goldwater scholarship, and Kramer Schmidt and Sarah Ray, who were selected as Truman Scholars. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

A trio of junior Tulane students has shined a light on academic achievements as well as the university by capturing prestigious scholarships. Sarah Ray and Kramer Schmidt were selected 2008 Truman Scholars, and Johanna “Josie” Nevitt won a Goldwater scholarship.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation awards up to $30,000 for students to attend graduate school in preparation for a career in government or other public service. Both Ray and Schmidt say the scholarship has reinforced their commitments to make the world a better place.

“The Truman scholarship has legitimized my big ideas,” says Ray of Memphis, Tenn., who is studying political science and social policy. She hopes to pursue graduate degrees in law and public policy with a focus on housing issues. Ray says some people told her that her ideas are “too aspirational and idealistic,” but the scholarship has bolstered her belief that her focus is a viable career choice.

“The world needs people who aim high, and truly seek to make a difference.” Ray says.

Schmidt of Covington, La., says he always has had his eye on politics. The political science major will pursue a master’s degree in public policy, concentrating on environmental and natural resources and political and economic development. He believes the scholarship will allow him to help the recovery of his home state of Louisiana.

“It’s an open door to study something you care about in the most engaging environment possible,” Schmidt says. “I want to lead in this state, and the Truman scholarship is giving me opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Schmidt is already active in Louisiana politics — he is currently a legislative aide to State Rep. Walker Hines and also interned last spring with (now Governor) Bobby Jindal when he was a U.S. representative on Capitol Hill.

Schmidt calls his work to date “a great way to feel like I already have a stake in public policy.”

Established by Congress in 1986 to foster and encourage excellence in science and mathematics, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship was designed to provide opportunities for undergraduate students with excellent academic records and outstanding potential.

Nevitt, a geology major from Aptos, Calif., says her love for geology started with camping trips with her grandfather. Before coming to Tulane, Nevitt says her interests, more apropos to California than Louisiana, were plate tectonics and earthquakes. Now she has shifted her focus to wetland stability in coastal Louisiana.

“With geology, location is everything,” Nevitt says. “It drew my interest and changed my focus. It just came naturally in this setting.”

Nevitt humbly gives some of the credit to the Tulane geology program for her winning the Goldwater scholarship.

“It’s really a reflection on the department,” she said. “It’s pretty underestimated, and it has been a great undergrad experience.”

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