Two Indian American students have been named 2020 Truman Scholars by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, as well as a Nepalese American, among a total of 62 recipients.

The Indian American Scholars selected are Nik Marda and Ashni Bhojwani, while Abrita Kuthuni is originally from Nepal. They, as well as the other Scholars, were chosen from nearly 200 students as finalists – including 10 Indian Americans – named earlier in the year (see India-West article here:

The more than five dozen 2020 Truman Scholars – the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States – were selected from 55 institutions, according to a news release.

Marda, a student at Stanford University, studies how governments can harness and regulate emerging technologies. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in computer science, Marda has published a paper on human-computer interaction, researched threats posed by artificial intelligence, and presented a proposal for supporting civic technologists to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, his bio notes.

On campus, he has led technical projects for Stanford in Government, edited articles for the Stanford Technology Law Review, and co-founded the Stanford Open Data Project, it said.

Last summer, Marda served as a Product Management Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where he built tools and pipelines for one of the most visited federal websites.

This winter, he interned for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, where he worked on consumer protection and technology policy, the bio said.

After graduation, he plans to pursue further graduate study in law and public policy, it added.

Bhojwani, of South Carolina-based Clemson University, is of Belizean and Indian origins, and was born in Belize before immigrating to the United States as a child, according to her bio.

Her determination to serve underrepresented groups stems from her experience as an immigrant and biracial woman living in South Carolina, and is her constant motivation to work and volunteer with vulnerable groups in her community, it said.

In the summer of 2019, she interned with the Campaign for Youth Justice, a nonprofit that tirelessly works to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth in the United States, and in doing so, found her career inspiration, her scholar bio notes.

A criminal justice and psychology dual-degree student, Bhojwani has been heavily involved with Clemson Undergraduate Student Government for six semesters.

Bhojwani plans on pursuing a JD with an emphasis on public interest law so that she can challenge institutionalized racism on a systemic level and continue her work with social justice issues and criminal justice reform, her bio said.

Kuthumi, a student at the University of New Hampshire, is a Nepalese-born American who hopes to uplift individuals and communities in developing nations by focusing on education.

During her time in college, she has sought out different opportunities: she is a two-time recipient of the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship for Korean, and interned at the Global Educational Program office within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. On campus, Kuthumi has been involved with the Global Education Center, participating in their Global Leadership Camp, serving as an Office of International Students and Scholars orientation leader, and currently, working at the office as an assistant, her bio notes.

She conducted research addressing the disconnect between international and American students, presenting that work at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference, winning the Award of Excellence.

Currently, she is studying political science and international affairs, and seeks to pursue graduate work in international development or international education.

The Truman Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Truman and the presidential monument 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.

For more than 40 years, the Truman Foundation has fulfilled that mission: inspiring and supporting Americans from diverse backgrounds and from across the United States to public service, the news release said.

The 62 new Truman Scholars, mostly college juniors, were selected from among 773 candidates nominated by 316 colleges and universities. They were recommended by 16 independent selection panels based on the finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders. The Executive Council of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved their selection. 

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.

Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, demonstrate academic excellence, and be committed to careers in government or the nonprofit sector, the release said.  

There have been 3,322 Truman Scholars selected since the first awards were made in 1977.

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