Two WKU students awarded highly selective fellowships for graduate studies

Erick Murrer is a columnist for the College Heights Herald.

Emily DeLetter

Two WKU students have been awarded highly selective fellowships.

Nancy senior Erick Murrer received the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which “provides graduate students with financial support, mentoring and professional development to prepare them academically and professionally for a career with the U.S. Department of State,” according to its website.

Murrer, who is also an opinion writer for the Herald, estimated that out of the nearly 600 applicants, only around seven percent are accepted, and many already have a few years of professional work experience.

He said he believes his home in the Appalachian region, background in homeschooling and being a member of the LGBT community helped set him apart from other applicants.

“This fellowship is the culmination of everything I’ve accomplished over the past four years,” Murrer said. “It’s an excellent opportunity to give back to my community and represent my state at an international level.”

Murrer is the current WKU Foreign Affairs campus coordinator. He’s spent the last two years working for the Dept. of State, which he said was a fast-paced, demanding and enjoyable job. This summer, he has plans to intern at the United States embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel.

As a fellow, Murrer will receive financial support for a two-year master’s degree in foreign service. He will also have two internships, one with the State Department and another at an embassy of his choice. Murrer said he hopes to work at the Australian embassy in Sydney.

He said in 2020, he will go into foreign service as an economic foreign service officer.

Student Government Association President Andi Dahmer was the first WKU student to be selected as a Harry S. Truman Scholar.

“It means so much to be the first [WKU student] chosen,” Dahmer said. “There were so many incredible students in the past who have been finalists. The help with interview questions, tips and other advice has been immense. I really stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Dahmer said Truman fellows receive $30,000 for graduate studies which are matched by many institutions both in the U.S. and abroad. They also participate in a summer institute, intern at the location of their choice in Washington, D.C., and participate in a weeklong leadership retreat with the other 58 scholars.

“Because this [award] has to do with the life and leadership impact of President Harry Truman, there are specific areas that recipients focus on,” Dahmer said. “I am passionate about LGBTQ and minority rights, especially concerning immigrants. I hope to continue work with these issues in the future.”

News reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @EmilyDeLetter.