Nelson Institute certificate student wins Truman, Udall awards

April 13, 2011

Steven Olikara, a student in the Nelson Institute's Environmental Studies Certificate Program, has won a pair of prestigious national awards, landing both the Truman Scholarship and the Udall Scholarship.

Olikara, a junior from Brookfield, Wis., was one of 60 Truman scholars who were selected from among 602 candidates nominated by 264 colleges and universities, with generally one scholar selected from each state. The Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study.

He applied in the environmental policy category for the Udall Scholarship, which provides up to $5,000 for the scholar's junior or senior year. He won that prize for a second straight year and is one of only three repeat scholars in the nation.

Chancellor Biddy Martin made the announcement by stopping by his Resource Policy Issues graduate seminar.

Olikara says UW-Madison has helped him pursue both scholarships and join communities of leaders across the country.

"I think the university's public service mission, known as the Wisconsin Idea, has always inspired me to think about how my involvement is making a difference in people's lives in the state and around the world," Olikara says. "I have experienced first-hand the extraordinary force of the Wisconsin Idea to bring people together across disciplines to address pressing issues locally and globally."

Olikara plans to pursue a joint masters in public policy and business administration with a focus on public management after he graduates from UW-Madison. Sophomore Evan Eifler was awarded a Udall honorable mention.

Many of the national awards carry with them an intense and rigorous interview process, says Julie Stubbs, director of undergraduate academic awards in the provost's office. In recent years, UW students have excelled at winning major awards and that speaks to the caliber of UW-Madison undergraduates, she adds.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president. The foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. Scholars are selected on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of making a difference.

The Udall Scholarships honor the legacy of former U.S. Rep. Morris K. Udall, supporting students who have demonstrated outstanding potential and a commitment to pursuing careers related to the environment.