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Two juniors each win $30K Truman scholarships

Sam Ritholtz

For their academic excellence and the likelihood of “making a difference,” Simon Boehme ’14 and Samuel Ritholtz ’14 have been selected as 2013 Truman Scholars. The scholarship provides $30,000 for graduate study to juniors who intend to make a career in public service.

An industrial and labor relations major, Boehme studies education policy with an emphasis on conflict resolution. As a research assistant at Cornell’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, he codes data on New York public school collective bargaining agreements as part of a national report on best practices.

On campus he founded Red Ideas, which promotes creativity and innovation among students improving the human condition. He also co-founded a public service trip on which Cornell students travel to Darien, Panama, to provide pro bono legal assistance to rural communities.

As a high school student in Michigan, Boehme led his school’s winning efforts in President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. He has interned at the White House and in the mayor’s office in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Mich. Last summer he conducted research and wrote policy at the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement in Mysore, India, and helped evaluate rural school districts in the area. This summer he will work at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Boehme intends to use the scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in education policy and a law degree. “Using my background in conflict resolution, I hope to expand efforts to improve relationships among key stakeholders creating better student outcomes,” he said.

Ritholtz is majoring in international agriculture and rural development with a concentration on economic development in Africa and Latin America in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is studying in Argentina this semester at the University of Buenos Aires.

On campus, he is president of Big Red Relief, a student organization that promotes awareness of and raises funds for international relief efforts. He is a founding member of Circle of Women at Cornell, which works to increase girls’ access to education in the developing world. A mentor to incarcerated teenage girls in the Ithaca area, he is also a Cornell Public Service Scholar and a Cornell Tradition Fellow. For four summers, he supervised counselors at a therapeutic camp for children with special needs in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Internationally, Ritholtz works as a United Nations Civil Society Youth Ambassador representing Voices of African Mothers, a nongovernmental organization that works for women’s education and empowerment as a route to African development. He has also worked with children with special needs and their families in Moshi, Tanzania.

Ritholtz will use his scholarship to do graduate study in forced migration and refugee issues with the eventual goal of receiving a Ph.D. His research interests include protracted refugee situations and how they hinder economic and political development and threaten national security. “I hope to one day be an advocate for displaced people on the world stage,” Ritholtz said.

The selection panels that chose Boehme, Ritholtz and 60 other winners nationwide included university presidents, elected officials, federal judges, prominent public servants and past Truman Scholars.

The scholarships are given by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, which Congress established in 1975.

Media Contact

John Carberry