May 9, 2011

AMHERST, Mass.—Nathan H. Nash, a junior political science and biology major at Amherst College, is one of just 60 students from 54 U.S. colleges and universities selected to be Truman Scholars this year. Nash and the other 59 undergraduates were elected by 17 independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of “making a difference,” according to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. A graduate of duPont Manual Magnet High School in Louisville, Ky., Nash is the son of David Nash and Peg Catlett.


The Truman Scholarship will provide Nash up to $30,000 for graduate study. He will 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. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, have grade-point averages in the top quarter of their classes and show a commitment to careers in government or the nonprofit sector.

Upon graduating from Amherst, Nash plans to pursue a four-year joint degree course in law and public policy and to earn a juris doctorate and a master’s degree in public policy. He is particularly interested in law school programs that combine public policy and environmental policy. Enrolling in such a program, he said, will enable him to study law and environmental policy as well as complete a practicum and apply his newfound legal and policy tools to a real-world problem, often in conjunction with state and local governments, under the supervision of a faculty member. After receiving those two degrees, Nash hopes to return to his home state of Kentucky and land a position in the Environmental Law Bureau of the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, where he wants to “gain an understanding of how state law is applied, how it is perceived by different actors and how it can be improved.” His ultimate goal is to be appointed Secretary of Kentucky’s Energy and Environmental Cabinet, where he will oversee the political and legal aspects of the state’s energy industry.

Nash’s academic career has been and will likely continue to be simultaneously “deliberate and committed,” noted the faculty committee on student fellowships, in a nomination for Nash. “He believes that effective and visionary public policy and legislation hinge on both a thorough understanding of how laws are deciphered, shaped and used, as well as of the science needed to fully comprehend the costs and benefits that legislation often entails,” the nomination reads. “He is remarkably outward-looking for a man of 20, devoted to causes much larger than himself, and hopes eventually to be in the position to promote policy that seeks to prevent over-exploitation and environmental damage while at the same time allowing diversification and expansion of the energy industry and jobs for Kentuckians.… We believe that Nathan will become a skilled advocate and political tactician, and will carry through on his plan to return to his state in a leadership capacity.”

"I was both honored and humbled by winning this award, although I tend to view it more as a journey begun than an end attained,” said Nash. “I’m very excited to see where it takes me and hope to make the most of all that has generously been given to me.”


During his time at Amherst, Nash has participated in numerous activities, including the Mock Trial Team, the student government, the Amherst Symphony Orchestra, trustee committees on honorary degrees and student life, student committees on residential life and multiculturalism and the Russian Club. He has served as an ESL tutor and a conversation circle leader at the town library and as a mentor for both an Amherst-based literacy nonprofit and the college’s tutoring program with the local school district. He has worked as a resident counselor, biology teaching assistant and peer mentor in Russian and economics. He has held summer internships in the Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, and the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Office of the Chief Legal Counsel within the Office of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, he worked as a resident counselor, biology teaching assistant and peer mentor in Russian and economics.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as a federal memorial to the 33rd President of the United States. The foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. There have been 2,790 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were given in 1977.

The 2011 Truman Scholars will assemble on May 17 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., on May 22. For a listing of the 2011 Scholars and more information on the foundation, see