DURHAM, N.C. – Claire Wang, an environmental science and policy major at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has been selected as a 2018 Truman Scholar.

Wang, a junior from North Salt Lake, Utah, is one of two Duke students – along with public policy major Kushal Kadakia – to receive the honor.

Truman Scholarships are awarded annually to outstanding undergraduates in each of the 50 states. Students are selected based on their leadership potential, high academic achievement and a commitment to careers in public service and advocacy.

This year, the Truman Scholarship Foundation received 756 nominations from 311 colleges and universities. Only 59 of these students were selected to receive the prestigious honor.  

Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.

“I am delighted to congratulate Claire and Kushal on this great honor, and I commend them for their pursuit of careers in public service,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “Over the course of their time at Duke, Claire and Kushal have demonstrated intellectual curiosity, a desire to serve the community, and a commitment to ethics – values that are needed in public life now more than ever. They are well-deserving of this recognition, and I look forward to following their careers.”

Wang, who earlier this week also was named a 2018 Udall Scholar, has dedicated her extracurricular time to environmental activism. She began her work in high school, working with Utah Clean Energy and then launching a national campaign for the Sierra Club called Seize the Grid, which organized students to push for 100 percent renewable energy on college and university campuses

The Sierra Club later modeled a campaign for city governments on the successful student campaign, and so far, 50 cities have committed themselves to 100 percent renewables in the near future.

Wang, an Angier B. Duke Scholar, arrived at Duke with a plan in hand to spur the university to meet its stated goal of carbon neutrality. By the end of the year, because of her advocacy, the university signed an open letter (authored by Wang) urging legislators to legalize third-party energy sales in North Carolina. This was Duke’s first direct engagement in renewable energy legislation.

During her sophomore year, Wang led a campaign to stop the university from building a natural gas plant on campus. Her leadership of a coalition of faculty, staff, students and community members halted the project.

“It would be an understatement to say that Claire is dedicated to environmental concerns … (she) is a serious student who is approaching issues at the intersection of energy and the environment out of a larger concern for social well-being, and I have no doubt that she will continue to make productive contributions throughout her career,” said Timothy Johnson, a professor in energy and the environment.

With Truman funding, Wang plans to pursue a degree in environmental law to lay the foundation for a career in environmental advocacy. She is particularly passionate about shifting American dependence on fossil fuels to renewables for electricity to address climate change. Wang’s activism, leadership, and dedication to creating a better world for others has already challenged Duke to become a leader in environmental advocacy.

"I am incredibly grateful to be selected as a Truman Scholar, and I can't wait to join this new community of advocates,” Wang said. “I look forward to seeing how students will continue to drive progress and tackle today's most pressing problems."