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UNI's Rachael Johnson wins prestigious Truman Scholarship

April 12, 2017

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-2761,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Rachael Johnson, a University of Northern Iowa junior majoring in elementary and middle level education from Sioux City, is one of only 62 students nationwide to be named a 2017 Truman Scholar. The prestigious award is given each year by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to extraordinary undergraduates in their third year of college who are committed to careers in public service. Johnson is the first student from UNI who has received the Truman Scholarship since the foundation awarded its first scholarship in the 1977-78 academic year.

Rachael Johnson

"My first reactions to hearing the news was pure shock, excitement and disbelief," said Johnson. "Then, after letting the news settle for a few hours, I started to realize the opportunities that this had just created for me and the shock quickly turned into gratitude."

The Truman Scholarship will provide Johnson up to $30,000 for graduate study and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare her for a career in public service leadership. After graduating from UNI, Johnson hopes to continue her studies in higher, postsecondary and continuing education and eventually wants to work on policy research, reform and implementation.

"I am extremely excited for and proud of Rachael being named a 2017 Truman Scholar," said UNI President Mark Nook. "She has done an exceptional job as a member of the Board of Regents, and her commitment to public service doesn't end there. Rachael is active on numerous boards and committees, and the benefits of her service can be seen throughout campus, the Cedar Valley community and the state of Iowa. This prestigious honor is also a testament to the outstanding education and opportunities faculty and staff offer our students."

Since her freshman year on the UNI campus, Johnson has been involved in a variety of college, civic and government activities. She is currently a member of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, and also served on the Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) as a senator for the College of Education.

"One of the main qualifications for a Truman Scholar is the desire to be a change agent," said Johnson. "Since stepping foot on campus my freshman year, UNI has provided me with multiple opportunities to make a positive change. Through my time as a senator with NISG to then becoming a Regent, I can honestly say that I am not sure I would have been able to commit my life to public service if it wasn't for the meaningful experiences I've had here at UNI."

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation's living memorial to President Harry S. Truman. The foundation has a mission to select and support the next generation of public service leaders. The Truman award has become one of the most prestigious national scholarships in the United States.

Annually, candidates for the Truman Scholarship go through a rigorous, multi-stage selection process. In 2017, there were 768 candidates for the award nominated by 315 colleges and universities, a record number of institutions. The 199 finalists for the award were interviewed in March and early April at one of 16 regional selection panels. Sixty-two new Truman Scholars were selected in 2017. They will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on Sunday, May 28, 2017.

For more information about the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, visit