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Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

May 5, 2008
CONTACT: Amy Lunday

Johns Hopkins' Kurt Herzer Wins Truman Scholarship

Kurt Herzer
Kurt Herzer

Kurt Herzer, a Johns Hopkins University junior from Melville, N.Y., is one of 65 students from 55 U.S. colleges and universities to be named a 2008 Truman Scholar. The prestigious annual award is for extraordinary juniors committed to careers in public service.

Chosen by Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation judges looking for leadership potential, intellectual ability, and the likelihood that a candidate will make a difference in the world, each scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study and is eligible for priority admission and supplemental financial aid at premier graduate institutions. Truman Scholars also receive leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and access to special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding communication skills and be in the top quarter of their classes. Herzer is one of two winners from Johns Hopkins this year; Sonia Sarkar of Austin, Texas, was also named a 2008 Truman Scholar. Johns Hopkins has had at least one Truman Scholar each year since 2005.

Through a Johns Hopkins undergraduate program known as the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship, Herzer, 21, has studied healthcare quality and patient safety both nationally and internationally, traveling abroad to work with patient safety leaders in the United Kingdom. He is also working on a multinational infection control and hand hygiene campaign with the World Health Organization. In Johns Hopkins' Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Herzer works with Lynette Mark on a number of perioperative safety initiatives centered in the Weinberg Operating Rooms. Herzer hopes to pursue both a medical degree and a research degree.

"I have learned that while the solutions posed by some policy theorists are scientifically elegant, they sometimes lack bedside reality,'" Herzer wrote in his application essay for the Truman. "By actively practicing medicine and studying health policy, my goal is to develop solutions that are both scientifically sound and clinically feasible, from policy to patient."

Legally blind from birth, Herzer says being told as a child that his visual disability could limit him compelled him to create his own opportunities. Rather than be discouraged, Herzer volunteered to teach computer skills to younger legally blind children and has become an advocate for better academic accommodations for students with disabilities. Herzer has also served on the university-wide Diversity Leadership Council, reflecting his interest in diversity issues and students with disabilities. Herzer was chosen to represent his undergraduate peers on the committee recently formed to select the next president of The Johns Hopkins University.

The Truman Scholarship is one of many accolades Herzer has earned while at Johns Hopkins. In February, Herzer was one of two Johns Hopkins undergraduates named to USA Today's 17th annual All-USA College Academic First Team. Only 20 students from around the country were chosen for this honor, which recognizes young people for academic excellence and also community service.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to America's 33rd president. Herzer is one of 2,610 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977. This year's winners will meet on Tuesday, May 13, for a weeklong 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 18. Information is available online at www.truman.gov.

Herzer is the son of Karl and Patrice Herzer of Melville, N.Y., and a graduate of Half Hollow Hills High School East.

Note: High resolution photos of Herzer are available upon request to Amy Lunday at acl@jhu.edu..