Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation president and former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright April 12 announced the cohort of 2018 Truman Scholars, which included at least six Indian American recipients.
The group of 59 college students included students from 52 colleges and universities across the U.S. who aspire to become public service leaders, the foundation said.
The students, who are mostly college juniors, were chosen from a group of 756 candidates nominated by 312 colleges and universities. Sixteen independent panels chose the cohort based on their academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders.
Among the students chosen as scholars include Akshayaa Chittibabu, Sanah Jivani, Kushal Kadakia, Serene Singh, Sravya Tadepalli and Aman Madan.
Chittibabu, of Massachusetts, studies biological sciences and sociology at the University of Connecticut where she is active with the Honors Program and different global communities on campus.
Her passion for learning languages has led her to studying Korean in Gwangju, South Korea, on a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship. She serves as the vice chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee for the student government, works as an editorial assistant at the Social Science & Medicine peer-reviewed journal, volunteers as a community health educator through the Collegiate Health Service Corps, and leads Bhagavad Gita studies at the Hindu Students Council, her Truman bio said.
She has conducted research on how rural South Indian women access and understand cervical cancer screening and implemented novel health education programs in rural Tamil Nadu.
As a Global Health Fellow at the UN Foundation, she campaigns for the United Nations' global health programs and promotes in-district advocacy of global health issues like malaria.
After graduation, she intends to earn an M.D./M.P.P. dual degree and pursue a fulfilling career as a physician-public servant.
Jivani is a member of the Honors College and is pursuing a double major in sociology and communication at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is the founder and chief executive officer of The Love Your Natural Self Foundation, a nonprofit she started after losing all of her hair to Alopecia in the seventh grade and subsequently struggling with her own low self-worth, her Truman bio said.
Her organization has reached over 30,000 students in 100 schools and 28 countries through a curriculum that focuses on the social and emotional wellness of young people. Outside of her work with her nonprofit, she is one of 30 We Are Family Foundation's Global Teen Leaders, a member of the American Association of University Women Student Advisory Council, a trustee on the America’s Promise Alliance Board of Trustees, a Pearson Student Advisor, a State Farm Youth Advisory Board Member, a DoSomething and College Board Youth Advisory Council Member, and a 2016-2017 Character Counts Person of Character, the foundation said.
Kadakia, of Texas, is an Angier B. Duke Scholar studying biology, global health, and public policy at Duke University.
Aspiring to a career in health policy, he has conducted and published peer-reviewed research on accountable care, biomedical innovation, and radiation oncology, the foundation bio said.
He also interned on the policy team of the North Carolina governor. His work has been recognized with the United Nations Inspirational Peace Prize, Ole Holsti Prize, Baker Scholarship, Huang Fellowship, and POWER Fellowship and has also been awarded grants from the Innovation & Impact Fund and Bass Connections Program.
At Duke, Kadakia also serves as Student Body vice president, chair of the Honor Council, a panelist on the Undergraduate Conduct Board, a voting member of the Duke University Board of Trustees and a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Investment Responsibility.
He looks forward to a future in service to the public good, the foundation added.
Singh is a Boettcher Scholar who is double majoring in political science and journalism with a minor in leadership studies at the University of Colorado.
Her passion for social justice and The Bill of Rights — particularly the First Amendment as it relates to religious freedom — inspired her honors thesis research project studying the underlying pathology behind discrimination with a lens focused on attacks against Sikh Americans, her foundation scholar bio said.
Compelled to give back to her community after interning for the United States Senate during a time when suicide rates increased in at-risk women populations, Singh founded the nonprofit organization, The Serenity Project, as means to empower some of these women with skills to persevere through and fight against religious-based hate crimes, domestic abuse, human trafficking, and severe body dysmorphia.
On campus, Singh is the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the student government, president of the Sikh Student Association and a member of the Presidents Leadership Class, her bio said.
Tadepalli is pursuing a double major in political science and journalism with a minor in Middle East and North Africa studies at the University of Oregon.
A Wayne Morse Scholar, Tadepalli has worked on multiple political campaigns and reported on Oregon politics for KWVA Radio. This fall, she plans to study geopolitics and international relations in Jordan, while conducting field research on political reform organizations in the region.
According to her scholar bio, Tadepalli currently serves as president of the University of Oregon Foreign Policy Forum, where she strives to expand opportunities for debate and discussion on foreign policy/national security-related issues on campus. She hopes to pursue a career in foreign policy, focusing on democracy promotion and promoting human rights.
Madan, of Tennessee, is a Terry Leadership Scholar at Davidson College where he is pursuing a double major in political science and Arab studies.
As the son of two Indian immigrants whose lives were shaped by Partition, Madan is committed to issues of refugee advocacy, social justice, and feminist scholarship in the Global South, the scholar's bio said.
In 2015, he co-founded Davidson Refugee Support, an organization which seeks to address the Syrian refugee crisis within the local Charlotte community.
During his year-long study abroad program in Beirut, Lebanon, the scholar worked for the Issam Fares Institute where he researched U.S. foreign policy in Syria and the expansion of the so-called Islamic State in Deir Ez Zor, Syria. Currently, Madan is spearheading a South Asian Student Initiative at Davidson and regularly writes for a number of global publications focused on MidEast issues, the bio noted.
Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling and special internship opportunities within the federal government, the foundation news release said.
There have been 3,198 Truman Scholars selected since the first awards were made in 1977.
The newest group of scholars will assemble May 22 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and they will receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., on May 27.
The Truman Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Truman and the Presidential Memorial to Public Service.
The Foundation’s mission is premised on the belief that a better future relies on attracting to public service the commitment and sound judgment of bright, outstanding Americans.