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The Ogden Honors College Nominates Students for Truman Scholarship

Four LSU students will compete nationally for the prestigious scholarship

The LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College has nominated four LSU students for the prestigious Truman Scholarship. Michael Denham, Ruth Dunn, Carter Pesson and Chloe Riviere will compete with students from universities across the country for the chance to be named a 2017 Truman Scholar. Students must be selected through an internal competition at LSU in order to compete for the scholarship. 

“Two of the pillars of the Ogden Honors College curriculum are leadership and service,” Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle. “I think that’s why we have so many outstanding applicants for our nation’s premiere scholarship for public service.  Many of our students have been preparing for their Truman application for the past three years.”

“This year’s Truman Scholarship nominees have amazing breadth and depth to their service and career ambitions; each has a strong international focus built on their experiences in medical clinics, refugee camps, and schools, from Ghana and Kenya to Guatemala and Panama,” said Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising. “They are dedicated to improving access to services for the most vulnerable members of our global society, and they have the commitment to social justice and know-how to be effective ‘change agents’ in their fields. I am so proud of the effort each put forward in crafting a compelling application and we wish them all the best as they compete for this prestigious national recognition of their public service.”

Truman Scholars are offered up to $30,000 for graduate study and are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of their graduate work. To be eligible to apply, students must indicate a desire to work in government, education, the nonprofit sector or the public interest sector, and must have a demonstrated commitment to service. In addition, the scholarship application process requires students to create a public policy that addresses a current public issue. Only 55 to 65 Truman Scholars are selected each year from over 600 applications.

Michael Denham, of Mandeville, La., is an Ogden Honors College junior studying Michael Denhamchemical engineering and economics. Denham’s policy proposal is to ban direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising in order to reduce prescription drug costs to consumers.

“In today’s health care market, drug companies are able to use their monopolistic position to charge overly high prices for cheaply manufactured drugs,” Denham said. “Such a policy would make it easier for firms to enter the pharmaceutical market, thereby increasing competition and optimally lowering prices.” 

During his time at LSU, Denham has served as a Youth Legislature Lead Advisor for the YMCA Youth & Government program, which aims to teach high school students about the importance of active citizenship and public policy discussion. He also founded the LSU chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on Campus to raise mental health awareness in the community. 

“Because LSU is so large and has so many resources, there are truly a plethora of opportunities available to get involved in service-oriented activities,” Denham said. “This wide array of programs and events lets you meet like-minded people and helps you truly feel like you’re making a difference in your community.”

After graduation, Denham hopes to attend Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School’s joint five-year MD/MBA program, concentrating in health care management.  

Ruth Dunn, of Nashville, Tenn., is an Ogden Honors College junior studying Ruth Dunnbiological sciences. Dunn’s policy proposal asserts that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should establish a field station in Jordan to address the Syrian refugee crisis and the resulting public health challenges facing host nations.

“Historically the United States has been the leader in refugee resettlement, accepting more applications for permanent residence from the UN Refugee Agency than every other country combined,” Dunn said. “This U.S. tradition is under fire, however, directly impacting our ability to offer aid through resettlement in the Syrian crisis. Our country has a humanitarian obligation to continue support for refugees.”

Dunn has served abroad in the Dominican Republic and Kenya, and is a Stamps Scholar and a Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) Scholar.

“LSU, specifically the Ogden Honors College, fosters an attitude of service,” Dunn said. “The university has encouraged me to invest in every community that I encounter.”  

After graduation, Dunn plans to spend a year in service in a global health setting before pursuing an MD/Master of Public Health (MPH) dual degree with a concentration in global epidemiology.

Carter Pesson, of New Iberia, La., is an Ogden Honors College junior studying Carter Pessonbiological sciences and anthropology. Pesson’s policy proposal addresses healthcare disparities in regions with large indigenous populations. Specifically, Pesson suggests changes that will increase healthcare access of the Q’eqchi’ Maya of Guatemala in rural communities.

“I participated in a Catholic Mission to rural Guatemala where I worked with community leaders to provide clean drinking water and solar powered lighting,” Pesson said. “During that trip, I drained, cleaned and bandaged an infected wound that most likely started as a scratch. The infection was so severe that the child was forced to start an antibiotic regimen. Observing firsthand the healthcare disparity in that region got me interested in the development of sustainable healthcare programs in destitute communities.”

During his time at LSU, he has served in a variety of leadership roles, including with Medical Brigades at LSU, which works to develop sustainable healthcare systems in destitute communities in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and Ghana. Pesson also serves as the recruitment co-chair for the Ogden Honors College Advocates.

“LSU’s emphasis on community involvement and service has fostered my passion for public health and allowed me to gain experience in a field where I hope to spend my future career.”

After graduation, Pesson plans to enroll in a MD/MPH program focusing in epidemiology.

Chloe Riviere, of New Orleans, La., is a junior studying political science and international Chloe Rivierestudies. Riviere’s policy proposal focuses on Chinese foreign investment and state building in African countries. In order to prevent China and other foreign countries seeking to invest in Africa from handicapping the continent, Riviere suggests that the World Trade Organization establish the measurement of human capital within a Trade Policy Review. She crafted a policy for the World Trade Organization that would compel China to moderate trade measures in Africa.

“I first encountered this topic in Dr. Harry Mokeba’s African Politics and Government class,” Riviere said. “It really affected me how much China is impeding the progress of African countries through their enterprises.”

Riviere served as team leader for CHANGE Break LSU’s service experience in Ghana, and currently serves as the international chair, coordinating service abroad for students in Ghana and Cuba.

“The people I have met through CHANGE Break are the most encouraging and ambitious people I have ever known,” Riviere said. “It’s because of their support and our experiences together that I felt compelled to apply for the Truman.”

After graduation, Riviere may spend a year serving abroad before attending graduate school to study foreign policy and international development.

Ten Truman Scholarship have been awarded to LSU students since the Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising was created in 2005. The Office advises current students and recent graduates from all colleges at LSU as they apply for prestigious national and international fellowships. Students interested in applying for a Truman Scholarship may contact Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Office of Fellowship Advising, at

The Truman Foundation was founded in 1975 as a memorial to the nation’s 33rd President, Harry S. Truman. Its mission is to support the graduate education and professional development of undergraduate students who are committed to public service leadership and who have the potential to act as “change agents” for the public good.

The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Ogden Honors College provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.


Allison S. Howell, Ogden Honors College