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Congratulations Truman Scholar!

A Holistic and Nuanced Approach

Honors student Rachel Miner was recently named a 2021 Truman Scholar! BYU President Kevin J. Worthen informed Miner in a virtual meeting that she had won the award -- the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers as public service leaders. Upon learning that she was a recipient, Rachel said, “It is such a privilege and blessing to even apply for the Truman Scholarship. The learning you obtain through the application process is invaluable. Then, to be selected a winner – it is truly an honor and incredible blessing. I am humbled to join a network of thousands of scholars who dedicate their life to public service. The Truman Scholarship is a symbol of hope for me – an indication that there are good people working to make our country a better place. I want to be part of that hope for the future. I want others to know that I do not take the honor or responsibility lightly; I intend to contribute to the greater good, serve our country through public service, and ultimately help bless the lives of others.”

Rachel knows that the challenges we face in our society today are increasingly complex and will require interdisciplinary thinking and approaches. Recognizing that no solution is one-dimensional, Rachel was drawn to the Honors Program. She explained, “The Honors Program is preparing me to approach disparity in our world with a holistic and nuanced approach. I have also made lifelong friends and I have been mentored by incredible faculty.” That interdisciplinary approach and commitment to academic excellence helped to prepare Rachel for this competitive award process. As a Truman Scholar, Rachel represents not only BYU, but the state of Utah as well. She is one of 62 new Truman scholars this year, chosen from a record 845 nominations from more than 320 colleges and universities nationwide. Truman Scholars are recognized as future "change agents." They have the passion, intellect, and leadership potential that in time should enable them to improve the ways that public entities - be they government agencies, nonprofit organizations, public and private educational institutions, or advocacy organizations - serve the public good. Long before being named a Truman finalist, Rachel was working to effect change.

She is studying Economics, Global Women’s Studies, and Studio Art and is currently the president of BYU’s Freedom of Religion or Belief Club. Professor Dennis Cutchins, Associate Director of Honors, said of Miner, “Rachel’s commitment to her education is inspiring. She has seized every opportunity presented to her.” She has worked extensively on public policy in the United States Senate, and, most recently, with Dr. Julie Valentine and the Utah State Legislature to help draft and facilitate support for three separate bills that ensure protection to sexual assault survivors. Rachel is also Executive Director of Bellwether International – a nonprofit organization she founded to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief at the intersection of other human rights. In her work with Bellwether, she works directly with government leaders, faith and belief leaders, and other nongovernmental organizations to address the growing human rights violations that affect groups such as the Uighurs in China and Rohingya in Myanmar. One project in Nigeria included the delivery of over 40,000 books, school supplies, and clothing for implementation of a literacy program empowering children displaced because of their religion. You can learn more at her website: https://www.bellwetherngo.org/.

Public service is also at the heart of her thesis project. This summer, Rachel will be writing her thesis while attending the direct enrollment program at Cambridge University studying economics. She is constructing an economic model that explores religious liberty within market relationships, measuring indicators of human rights violations, and studying how pluralism and reciprocity contribute to society as a whole.

Recently, Rachel presented at the Faith and Flourishing Symposium at Harvard University, discussing how to prevent child sexual abuse at the intersection of religious and international law. The symposium is part of a larger movement to create a United Nations world day recognizing survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. When we asked Rachel what she has learned from her recent experiences, she noted the challenges this last year presented in particular and said, “If you can connect during a pandemic, you can do anything!” She continued, “COVID-19 has helped me realize the incredible privilege and blessings I enjoy. How many women in the world can obtain an education from a top tier university through online classes? How many women in the world have access to education at all? There is always something to be grateful for. Comparison is the thief of joy, so live in the present, adapt, and maximize the opportunities you have!”

Rachel is studying Economics, Global Women's Studies, and Studio Art. She also loves rock climbing and a good non-fiction read. She was born in Texas, and has lived all over the United States including in Colorado, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Upon graduation from BYU, Rachel is planning to pursue an MSc in Global Politics and then attend law school.


The Truman Scholarship Foundation recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to affecting change through public service by providing them with $30,000 for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students. Established by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Harry S. Truman and a national monument to public service, the Truman Scholarship carries the legacy of our 33rd President by supporting and inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. Students interested in the Truman scholarship should visit BYU’s Office of Prestigious Scholarships at ugrad.byu.edu/scholarships or contact them at national.scholarships@byu.edu to learn more. The Office of Prestigious Scholarships helps students interested in pursuing prestigious national and international opportunities for graduate study by providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application process.