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Two students selected as finalists for Truman Scholarships

Thursday, February 28, 2019

LAWRENCE — Two juniors at the University of Kansas will compete as finalists for Harry S. Truman Scholarships, which provide up to $30,000 for graduate study.

The awards are given to college juniors for leadership in public service. The Harry S. Truman Foundation reviewed 840 applications from 346 institutions before selecting its finalists.

From that pool, the foundation selected 199 finalists from 143 schools. Those students will now compete for about 60 awards.

This year’s KU finalists:

  • Saif Bajwa, majoring in political science and economics
  • Sam Steuart, majoring in American studies and biochemistry and minoring in Spanish

The foundation will interview finalists in March and April before announcing the 2019 Class of Truman Scholars in late April.

Criteria for the nominations include an extensive record of campus and community service, commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit and advocacy sectors, communication skills and a high probability of becoming a "change agent," and a strong academic record with likely acceptance to the graduate school of the candidate’s choice.

The campus nomination process is coordinated by the Office of Fellowships, a unit of Undergraduate Studies. Students interested in applying for the Truman Scholarship in future years are encouraged to contact the office, which can nominate a limited number of students each year.

Scholars 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.

Since 1981, 19 KU students have become Truman scholars. Taylor Zabel was the most recent KU student to receive the honor in 2017.

Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the federal memorial to President Harry S. Truman.

More information about KU’s finalists is below:

Saif Bajwa is the son of Abid Bajwa and Shazia Bajwa of Overland Park and a graduate of Blue Valley West High School. A double major in political science and economics, Bajwa is also a member of the University Honors Program and was selected as a sophomore for the competitive University Scholars Program. Bajwa has served on a variety of political campaigns and currently works in constituent services for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. He has been active on campus with Student Senate, the Student Legislative Awareness Board and the Dole Institute of Politics. A former member of the KU Debate squad, Bajwa has also worked as a debate coach and tutor. He recently volunteered as an English instructor at the Government High School in Mohlanwal, Pakistan.

Sam Steuart is the son of Renae and Jim Steuart of Topeka and a graduate of Shawnee Heights High School. A double major in American studies and biochemistry and a minor in Spanish, Steuart is a member of the University Honors Program and was selected as a sophomore for the competitive University Scholars Program. Steuart has served as program coordinator and now development director for the Center for Community Outreach, where he has focused on expanding a number of health-related initiatives with Hawks for Health. He completed a medical internship in Spain and studied abroad on programs in Costa Rica and England. He has done research since 2017 in the lab of Cindy Berrie, KU associate professor of chemistry, and more recently with Vincent Francisco, Kansas Health Foundation Professor of Applied Behavioral Science, with whom he is performing volunteer work helping establish a health clinic at Topeka High School.