Five Indian-Americans are among 62 Truman Scholars

Five Indian-Americans are among 62 Truman Scholars selected from 58 U.S. colleges and universities. Indian-American scholars include Abhijay Murugesan of University of Arizona, Vivek Ramakrishnan of University of Chicago, Aasha Shaik of Rutgers University, Prathm Juneja of University of Notre Dame and Kritika Singh of Northeastern University.

The scholars were selected from a pool of 840 candidates nominated by 346 colleges and universities. Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study.

Juneja is studying political science and computer science at University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

As a dual degree student with interests in programming and policy, Juneja worked as a software developer for the City of South Bend, Indiana, and as a civic technology fellow for MicrosoftNY . He currently serves on the team for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Presidential Exploratory Committee.

On campus, Juneja is a member of NDVotes, Notre Dame’s non-partisan voter registration and voter information association.

He previously served as the Student Government chief of staff where he focused on furthering community relationships with South Bend, increasing access to health and wellness resources, and making Notre Dame a more inclusive place.

Murugesan is majoring in public health with a concentration in health systems theory and practice, with a second major in molecular & cellular biology. After obtaining EMT national certification and state licensure, Murugesan joined the University of Arizona Emergency Medical Services where he currently serves as chief of EMS and executive director.

He also gained experience at the state level during service as a Professional-Leadership Intern at the Bureau of EMS & Trauma System within the Arizona Department of Health Services. He has also joined the Medical Reserve Corps of Southern Arizona and the Southern Arizona Interagency Peer Support Team.

Apart from EMS, Murugesan is an Honors College Ambassador and has assisted research in the Department of Neuroscience, College of Science and Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine. He plans to study for an MD/MPH dual degree and pursue a career in emergency medicine.

Ramakrishnan, a third-year student at the University of Chicago, is studying public policy.  He previously worked for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services Data Analytics Division, leading a project involving identifying predictors for children at risk of aging-out of the foster care system and creating a report articulating best practices for mitigating risk.

He currently serves as president of UAID, an organization that runs annual initiatives addressing social determinants of health on the South Side of Chicago. His work analyzing segregation patterns and effects in Chicago has been published in the Metropolitan Planning Council’s Cost of Segregation Phase II report. 

He hopes to pursue a PhD in economics to continue developing data-driven tools to actively inform social policy.

Shaik majors in political science and Middle Eastern studies at Rutgers University, where she is in the Honors College and women’s Douglass Residential College. After her sophomore year of high school, Shaik began working at the United Nations doing gender equity advocacy work, her passion for which stems from a year she spent living in India, and the realities that she has been forced to confront since her time there and since returning to the U.S.

At Rutgers, Shaik has continued pursuing her social activism interests as a captain of the Rutgers Mock Trial team, president of Rutgers Petey Greene (which brings volunteers into prisons to tutor people who are incarcerated), president of the Women’s Political Caucus, and beyond.

She worked at Microsoft as its youngest-ever Civic Tech Fellow after her first year to explore how the private sector can partner in promoting equality, and spent the following summer on intensive Arabic study and cultural immersion in Amman, Jordan on a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship. She plans to pursue a JD/MPP, with which she hopes to continue uplifting marginalized voices, and ultimately aspires to a diplomatic position.

Singh is studying bioengineering, global health, and chemistry at Northeastern University (NU) with a focus on emerging and neglected diseases.

A recipient of both the Thermo Fisher Scientific Antibody Scholarship and the Goldwater Scholarship, Singh spent a year as a research assistant in a malaria immunology lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and, with the support of the Summer Scholars Independent Research Fellowship, has worked for over two years on epigenetics and malaria in the Mazitschek Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. She founded and directs a nonprofit organization, Malaria Free World, which engages in peer-to-peer education, fundraising, and political lobbying, and she has worked to empower others through the NU Global Health Initiative (NUGHI), which she also founded. She plans to earn a master’s degree in global health science and epidemiology or medical anthropology before pursuing an MD/PhD.

The 2019 Truman Scholars will assemble May 21  for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and will receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, May 26.

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.

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