Apathy Turns to Activism for NWU’s Latest Truman Scholar

Political action wasn’t in Chelsea Johnson’s (’13) plans when she arrived at Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2009. But the Johnson, Neb., native’s very first college class triggered a change in her thinking. The class: Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Kathy Wolfe’s liberal arts seminar, “We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting for”.

“It challenged me by demonstrating the mindset that allows for humans to live unsustainably—a mindset I possessed,” Johnson said. She has since advocated for sustainable practices, interning with Repower America and Bold Nebraska.

Her experiences have reshaped the way she looks at volunteering. “Serving isn’t about what I can do for someone,” she said. “It’s about what I can do with someone. It’s a constant learning experience.”

Johnson’s learning experiences have propelled her to one of the nation’s top undergraduate honors: a Harry S. Truman scholarship, which will provide $30,000 toward her graduate education. After graduating from Nebraska Wesleyan next year, Johnson plans to study public affairs and sustainable development at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Johnson is Nebraska Wesleyan’s fourth Truman scholar in the past seven years.