Purdue University student from Fort Wayne earns prestigious Marshall Scholarship to study in United Kingdom
If all goes as hopes, Abby Lemert of Fort Wayne could be on the forefront of encouraging countries around the world to cease using government control of the internet and social media to oppress their people.
“I would love to shape international norms on the use of technology,” Lemert, a senior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, said during a telephone interview with News-Sentinel.com.
The 2014 Carroll High School graduate will take a big step toward that goal next year when she begins two years of study in the United Kingdom as a Marshall Scholarship recipient.
The Marshall Scholarship, which was created in 1953, provides young Americans of high ability with an opportunity to study for a graduate degree in the United Kingdom with goals including advancing knowledge and building better understanding between the U.K. and United States, Purdue said in a news release.
Lemert is the first Purdue student to receive a Marshall Scholarship in 25 years.
The application process, which includes a personal interview, began about a year ago and focuses mainly on students with “ambassadorial potential,” Lemert said.
“I am struck by Ms. Lemert’s maturity and character, which was apparent when as a first-year student she was determined to design a one-of-a-kind engineering plan of study,” Mary Pilotte, associate professor of engineering practice and director of engineering education undergraduate programs at Purdue, said in the news release.
“Her efforts are now apparent to all, and she has positioned herself to confidently face the exciting challenges and opportunities that will present themselves in her future,” Pilotte added. “We can’t wait to watch her career unfold.”
In fall 2018, Lemert will begin a year of computer science study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The next school year, she will study intelligence and international security in the War Studies department at King’s College in London.
She then plans to return to the United States to attend law school, she said.
“I’m really grateful for all of the help and support my parents have given me through this process,” Lemert said.
She is the daughter of B.E. “Bert” and Doris Lemert of Fort Wayne.
Abby Lemert said new technology has had a dramatic impact on how we communicate and on politics and government. Technology also has become the means by which many ideas are spread.
The United States and United Kingdom have some of the strongest legal protections for freedom of speech, religion and public assembly, Lemert said. The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
She would like to encourage other nations, such as China, Russia and Iran, to adopt similar freedoms for their people rather than use technology to limit access to ideas and to monitor and to minimize the impact of people, such as human rights advocates.
To address that problem, Lemert – stressing she is not an expert on international affairs – suggests multinational organizations such as the United Nations could set norms for technology use and then possibly influence authoritarian regimes to adopt those norms.
To prepare for her career, Lemert has worked at a number of internships, including one last summer in the Civil Liberties and Privacy office at the National Security Agency.
At Purdue, she also has been very active in Campus Crusade for Christ, a Christian ministry program.
Lemert also is a founding member and current secretary of the Purdue Immigrant Allies student group, which since this fall has organized roundtable discussions and other educational programs on aspects of U.S. immigration policy.
Fort Wayne resident Meron Tamene, a Concordia Lutheran High School graduate who now is a sophomore at Purdue, is the group’s president.
Purdue Immigrant Allies grew out of a class, “Crossing Borders,” which Lemert and other students took this past spring. As part of the class, students traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to observe the humanitarian impact of U.S. immigration policy and programs.
Lemert has tried to share what she has learned through Purdue Immigrant Allies programs and at Campus Crusade for Christ events, she said.