Klemmer Nicodemus listens to Dee Allen talk about her public service career.
Klemmer Nicodemus listens to Dee Allen talk about her public service career.

On a bright spring day in April, the past and the future of public service came together in the courtyard of the Gheens Science Hall & Rauch Planetarium.

Klemmer Nicodemus of Hartford, Kentucky, was there with his parents to celebrate dual honors at a reception for the University of Louisville’s latest recipients of some of the world’s most prestigious scholarships. 

The J.B. Speed School of Engineering student , also a chemistry minor, had won Kentucky’s only 2023 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. In the United States, college juniors who hope to go into public service careers compete annually for the prestigious award, worth $30,000. Out of hundreds of applicants, usually just one student in each state wins the award.

Nicodemus, who hopes to spend his career in service as a scientist, became the 15th UofL student to win the award, giving UofL more Truman winners than any Kentucky college or university, public or private. In a rare double-honor, he was also a 2023 winner of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship for U.S. sophomores and juniors pursuing research careers in math, science and engineering.

Cheering him on that day was UofL alumna Dee Allen, who in 1977 made history when she became the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s first Truman Scholarship winner. The political science/literature major even accepted the brand new award directly from Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry and Bess.
Allen, who is retired from Metro Louisville Government and lives in Louisville, said winning the Truman scholarship “changed the trajectory” of her professional life. As part of a family of journalists, Allen said she thought journalism was in her future.
Instead, she used the scholarship ($20,000 at the time) to get a master of public administration/finance degree from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 1980 and worked as a budget analyst. “It set me more in the direction of government service,” she said. 
She went on to, among other things, work in the Reagan White House in Washington, D.C., and for the Legislative Research Commission in Frankfort, as well as spend a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer tutoring GED students in Cincinnati. She worked for the Metro Louisville Government Finance Department from 2007 to 2016 as the open records coordinator. 
Today, as a member of the Women’s Club of UofL, she has gone full circle, helping award scholarships to women working their way through UofL.