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GIST Major Among 5 KU Nominees for Truman Scholarship

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

LAWRENCE — Five outstanding juniors will be the University of Kansas’ nominees 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:

  • Saif Bajwa, majoring in political science and economics
  • Ellie Redmond, majoring in applied behavioral science
  • Sam Steuart, majoring in American studies and biochemistry and minoring in Spanish
  • Courtland Triplett, majoring in political science and minoring in journalism and public administration
  • Catalina Wedman, majoring in global & international studies and Spanish

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. A national selection committee reviews applications from more than 800 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 scholarship recipients will be announced in late April.

More information about KU’s nominees 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 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.

Ellie Redmond is the daughter of Jim and Sue Redmond of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a graduate of La Cueva High School. Majoring in applied behavioral science with an emphasis on adults with disabilities, Redmond has a substantial history of research and service related to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is the current president of the KU chapter of Best Buddies, for which she attended a national conference this summer. Redmond has conducted research in the lab of KU Associate Professor Claudia Dozier and will complete her practicum with the lab this year. For the past four summers, Redmond has been a counselor at Camp Rising Sun in New Mexico, which brings together campers with and without autism spectrum disorder.

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 KU Associate Professor Cindy Berrie and more recently with Kansas Health Foundation Professor Vincent Francisco, with whom he is performing volunteer work helping establish a health clinic at Topeka High School.

Courtland Triplett, originally from Kansas City, Kansas, is the son of Lorrell Triplett and Luvetta Triplett of Olathe and a graduate of Olathe South High School. A member of the University Honors Program, Triplett is majoring in political science with minors in journalism and public administration. Triplett has been involved with a number of student government organizations on campus, including through Student Housing, Student Senate, RiseKU and Multicultural Student Government. For the past year, he has served as the KU representative on the board of directors of the United Way of Douglas County. Triplett has been active on a number of Kansas City-area political campaigns, has interned in the district office of U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and is currently completing an internship in the Kansas Legislature. In summer 2018, he was selected for the competitive Hoover Institute’s Summer Policy Boot Camp at Stanford University.

Catalina Wedman, originally from Cartago, Costa Rica, is the daughter of Patricia Alfaro of Cartago and Michael Wedman of  Harper, and she is a graduate of Liceo Experimental Bilingue José Figueres Ferrer. Wedman is a transfer student to KU, having received associate's degrees in liberal arts and general studies at Johnson County Community College. At JCCC, Wedman worked as an admissions ambassador and as the lead student assistant for International and Immigrant Student Services. She has volunteered as a teaching assistant for English Language Learners in Johnson County and also at a school in Xi’an, China, where she studied abroad for a semester. At KU, Wedman is a member of the University Honors Program and the McNair Scholars Program. She is also a research fellow with the Foreign Military Studies Office and a scholar with the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence at KU.

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