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Two Northwestern students named Truman Scholars

The award is regarded as the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the U.S.
truman scholars
With Anna Dellit (left) and Kaylyn Ahn, there are now 22 Northwestern students who have earned a Truman Scholarship. They join a community of more than 3,500 Truman Scholars named since the first awards in 1977. Photo by Shane Collins

Northwestern students Kaylyn Ahn and Anna Dellit have been named 2024 Truman Scholars in recognition of their academic achievement and commitment to leadership and service.

Kaylyn Ahn

Ahn inspired and testified in support of a bill to close a legal loophole in Illinois sexual assault law, stemming from her own experience in 2021. Since the bill’s passage, police departments across the state have trained officers in proper enforcement, rendering thousands of previously unaddressed sexual assault cases eligible for prosecution.

Now an advocate, Ahn travels across the country to speak at colleges, town halls and political events as a domestic violence survivor.

In 2021, she was named one of GLAAD’s 20 Under 20 LGBTQ+ changemakers for helping shape the future of activism.

The social policy and legal studies major from the School of Education and Social Policy plans to use her Truman Scholarship to pursue a law degree. She hopes to explore conflict-related sexual violence and international human rights in the future.

> Related story from SESP magazine: How trauma led to advocacy

“Through my position on the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, my internship with the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights, and my upcoming summer at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, I learned I could leverage my voice to help bring systemic change and fight for all survivors, past and present,” Ahn said. “My politics are personal because I am one of few who live to tell my story; my advocacy is my means to strengthen the courage of those I love.”

Anna Dellit

With a passion for ending mass incarceration and addressing racial discrimination in the legal and carceral systems, Dellit volunteers as a peer mentor at Illinois Youth Center-Chicago, helping prepare students for college. She also serves in a leadership role with Northwestern’s Undergraduate Prison Education Partnership.

As a multiracial Vietnamese American, she is interested in comparative race studies and transracial coalition building. At Northwestern, she is double majoring in legal studies and Black studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and has completed a certificate in civic engagement.

After she graduates, Dellit plans to pursue a law degree at an institution that holds a similar standard of having race-centered programs to create a holistic and community-centric educational approach that can be translated into her mission to abolish capital punishment.

“I have worked with and been in community with people impacted by the inequity and violence of incarceration within my family, at my local shelter and at the juvenile detention centers,” she said. “As I continue this summer to learn from those most impacted by the carceral state through my internship with the Tennessee Post Conviction Defender’s Office — assisting in providing legal care for incarcerated persons on death row — I hope to harness the momentum of this scholarship to honor all those who have supported and put their trust in me.”

The Truman Scholarship, awarded to a small number of college juniors each year, recognizes outstanding academic achievement combined with exceptional leadership potential and a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector. Each scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.

“Kaylyn and Anna have already made a profound impact in their home communities, on our campus and around the world,” said Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, director of the Office of Fellowships. “Although raised in different states and enrolled in different schools at Northwestern, they share a vision of public service that depends upon understanding U.S. policy issues in international context.

“Both women worked on their Truman policy proposals while studying abroad, Ahn in Ecuador and Dellit in Vietnam. Their shared commitment to improve American lives reflects their embrace of a sophisticated, global perspective paired with pragmatic, local, problem-solving acumen that leaves leaders twice their age in awe.”

With Ahn and Dellit, there are now 22 Northwestern students who have earned a Truman Scholarship. They join a community of more than 3,500 Truman Scholars named since the first awards in 1977.

Any Northwestern student interested in pursuing scholarship and fellowship opportunities can contact the Office of Fellowships to learn more.