LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has nominated four outstanding juniors for Harry S. Truman Scholarships.
The students are competing for the prestigious national awards, which provide up to $30,000 for graduate study. The awards are given to college juniors for leadership in public service. They are highly competitive, with only about 60 Truman Scholars named nationwide each year.
This year’s KU nominees:
- Hythem Abouodah, from Overland Park, majoring in chemistry
- Kathryn Ammon, from Fort Worth, Texas, majoring in history, political science, and women, gender & sexuality studies
- Rachel Atakpa, from Belle Plaine, majoring in English and minoring in Spanish
- Zoya Khan, from Overland Park, majoring in political science and global & international studies and minoring in Middle East Studies
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.
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.
The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to President Harry S. Truman. Each year, a selection committee reviews applications from 700 or more nominees for the Truman Foundation in Washington, D.C. Approximately 200 students will be named finalists in late February and invited for regional interviews in March and early April. The 60 or so Truman Scholars will be announced in late April.
More information about KU’s nominees is below:
Hythem Abouodah, from Overland Park, is the son of Mohamed and Ola Abouodah. A graduate of Blue Valley West High School, Abouodah is a member of the University Honors Program and was selected as a sophomore for the competitive University Scholars Program. Abouodah has frequently served as a tutor, including with the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence and in the Kansas City Syrian refugee community. He has conducted research in the KU Baby Lab and participated in research internships at the University of Kansas Medical Center Hematology and Transplant Lab and Children’s Mercy Hospital. A certified nursing assistant, Abouodah has volunteered in a variety of hospitals and clinics, including at Nasser Hospital in Gaza.
Kathryn Ammon, from Fort Worth, Texas, is the daughter of Ann and Brian Ammon of Fort Worth and Karen Luellen of Allen, Texas. A graduate of Timber Creek High School, Ammon is a member of the University Honors Program, and she was selected as a sophomore for the competitive University Scholars Program and as a Hall Center for the Humanities Scholar. At KU, Ammon has served as president of Students United for Reproductive Justice and as a student facilitator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs' Colors of KU Social Justice retreat. In the summer of 2017, Ammon was a public policy intern for Planned Parenthood Great Plains. Ammon’s service experience includes volunteering for the Willow Domestic Violence Center and with KU Alternative Breaks. Ammon also holds on-campus jobs with KU Student Housing and as a mental health peer educator for KU Counseling & Psychological Services.
Rachel Atakpa, originally from Belle Plaine, is the daughter of Rebecca Atakpa and Etuk Atakpa. A graduate of Derby High School, Atakpa recently won the Lawrence Arts Center’s Langston Hughes Award for Creative Writing in Poetry. As a McNair Scholar, she has conducted research on black women’s writing. This fall, she was a participant in a KU Office of First-Year Experience Common Book event, “Engaging 'Citizen' from the Margins,” co-sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She has also served as a mentor for the Multicultural Scholars Program and as a student facilitator for the OMA’s Colors of KU Social Justice retreat. A former Hall Center for the Humanities Scholar and a member of the University Honors Program, Atakpa studied abroad on two short-term, faculty-led programs, the London Review and Travel Writing and Costa Rica.
Zoya Khan, from Overland Park, is the daughter of Sofia and Shahbaz Khan. A graduate of Notre Dame de Sion High School in Kansas City, Missouri, Khan was a recipient of the KU Alumni Association’s Ex.C.E.L. (Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership) Award this fall. Khan has been president of the Muslim Student Association and volunteered with KU for Refugees and KC for Refugees. Khan has served as a student senator in the KU Student Senate and participated in the Multicultural Student Government. A member of the University Honors Program, she has also served as a diversity, equity & inclusion ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and on the Student Advisory Board for the Dole Institute of Politics. In the summer of 2017, Khan was the W.E.B. DuBois Public Policy Intern for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington, D.C.