October 7, 2020

Junior becomes latest Udall Scholar from Purdue

johnson-grace Grace Johnson

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. – The Udall Foundation has named Purdue University student Grace Johnson a 2020 Udall Scholar. Johnson is among only 55 students in the United States to be awarded with the scholarship. She is Purdue’s fifth Udall Scholar since 2013.

Johnson is a junior in the College of Agriculture and the Honors College pursuing a major in natural resources and environmental science with a concentration in environmental policy and analysis.  Originally from Guymon, Okla., Johnson has displayed a singular focus on environmental issues, applying leadership skills that made her ideally suited for the program.

The Udall Scholarship recognizes college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to the environment or American Indian nations. It provides up to $7,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year, connects them to a rich network of leaders in their fields of study and develops their skills with a five-day national conference in Tucson, Arizona.  Purdue students apply for the Udall scholarship through the National and International Scholarships Office (NISO), which is housed in the Honors College. 

“Being named a Udall Scholar is not alone an honor; it will help me work with others on environmental justice and public policy, particularly in fighting for groundwater preservation and the water rights of Great Plains communities,” Johnson said.

Her efforts to advocate for environmental sustainability have included roles on the Purdue Student Sustainability Council, the Honors Leadership Council Executive Board, and serving as an Agriculture Ambassador. In one example of her leadership with the Purdue Student Sustainability Council, she helped plan a town-hall discussion regarding the city of West Lafayette’s intent to become carbon-neutral by 2030, developing ideas for implementation in the next five years. 

“We are enormously proud of our students leveraging the skills of Purdue Agriculture to execute a vision for local and global impact,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture. “One need look no further for an excellent example of this than Grace herself, who is excelling and will continue to excel as a scholar focused on the environment and those affected by it.”

Rhonda Phillips, dean of the Honors College, said, “Grace exhibits many of the hallmarks of a Purdue Honors education: leadership, interdisciplinary scholarship and the goal of transforming the world around her. We’re so glad to see her work on the environment recognized, and have the utmost confidence that her efforts will be enriched by this Udall Scholarship.”

In the public policy arena, Johnson held internships with the United States Senate and the Center for Green Schools at the United States Green Building Council.  In the latter, she assessed state-level policy regarding standards for school construction and interviewed directors of state offices that oversee that construction.

The National and International Scholarships Office, which is housed in the Honors College, supports all Purdue students in applying for prestigious scholarships.  Students interested in such awards are encouraged to reach out to the NISO office by email at niso@purdue.edu, or to visit the NISO website at www.purdue.edu/niso.

Media contact: Jim Bush, 765-336-1909, jsbush@purdue.edu

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