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AU Applauds Winners of 2009 Merit Awards and National Scholarships

By Tony Romm

Add four more students to American University’s growing list of national merit award winners: Carrie Johnson, SPA/BA ’09; Kyrie Bannar, SPA/BA and CAS/BA ’10; Julie Munro, CAS/BA ’10; and Bill Flynn, CAS/BA’10.

These 2009 honorees join the more than 170 AU students between 2000 and 2008 who previously won national merit awards.

“This year’s recipients are extraordinary,” said Paula Warrick, director of the Office of Merit Awards. “They represented a wide range of majors, and I think this really says that AU has great strengths across a wide range of disciplines.”

Carrie Johnson, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, was named to the USA Today Academic All Star Team. She was also a 2008 Morris K. Udall Scholar, a 2009 South Dakota Senate Fellow, and a Truman Scholarship Finalist. Johnson also designed her own second interdisciplinary major combining political science, law, education, and environmental studies, and will receive the university’s highest award, the President’s Award, at commencement.

In March, junior Kyrie Bannar earned a Harry S. Truman Scholarship for her work in educating young women about domestic violence.

Bannar’s résumé is impressive: At AU, the Pennsylvania native has served as the director of Take Back the Night, a leader of the Domestic Violence Awareness Programming for the Women's Initiative, and the founder of a peer-mentoring program for high school students. Her impressive $30,000 scholarship will allow her to study law and public policy at the graduate level, with a focus on victims of domestic violence. She is the sixteenth AU student to win the award.

Bannar’s passion for public service is shared by junior Julie Munro, who took home a Udall Scholarship in April for her work promoting environmental sustainability on campus and throughout Washington, D.C.

The eighth AU student to receive the accolade since 2000, Munro embodies the commitment to community that defines Udall scholars. She is the current president of Eco-Sense, and she has worked on a number of environmental issues – from spearheading campus conservation efforts to promoting green-friendly local food producers – since arriving at AU. She will travel to Arizona this summer to accept a $5,000 scholarship, courtesy of the Udall commissioners.

Also in April, Bill Flynn, a mathematics and physics major with a near-perfect grade-point average, captured a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship – the nation’s highest award for science, math, and engineering undergraduates. Flynn will use his award to pursue a PhD in condensed matter physics.

Flynn is both a student and a teacher. The New Jersey native has spent his time at AU soaking up quantum information theory in class, collaborating with his professors on groundbreaking research, and sharing his math and physics interests with local D.C. students.

Warrick has high praise for the students’ accomplishments.  “This is undertaking an extra class; it’s a process that last multiple months,” she said. “Students need to plan a strong application, and they need to cultivate strong relationships, which these winners did.”