Umar Farooq ’17 has been named a 2016 Truman Scholar, one of the country’s most prestigious and competitive scholarships.
Farooq follows Zachariah Oquenda '16 who won the award last year and 17 other CMCers who have won the award over the years. Grace Lee '17 joined Farooq as one of a select-few finalists for the award this year.
"It's still sinking in, to be entirely honest," said Farooq.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, announced the 54 new Truman Scholars, all college juniors, from among a record number of applicants and institutions: 775 candidates nominated by 305 colleges and universities.
Farooq hails from a small Iowa community where he was one of only two Muslims. Noticing a gap in people's understanding of Islam and a dearth of Muslims in the public eye, Farooq served as a religious and cultural ambassador, working to bridge those gaps. He hopes to continue this pursuit by working in public service and doing international work, using his Arabic knowledge to understand the impact U.S. policies have on people across the Middle East and help reshape the image of the U.S. abroad.
Studying abroad in Ibri, Oman last summer on a Critical Language Scholarship and Jordan last fall, Farooq plans to pursue a graduate degree related to international affairs and economic development and also return to the Middle East.
"I'm interested in the relationship between conflict, political development, and economic development, so I hope to work on the ground administering programs or trying to improve ones that deal with those issues."
Farooq is a dual major in international relations and economics at CMC and has served as a research assistant at the Lowe Institute and Keck Center where he is the Middle East editor for the Keck Journal of Foreign Affairs. He has also interned or worked for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Asante Africa Foundation and even in the White House, as an associate in the Office of Presidential Correspondence.
Each 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, be academically excellent, and be committed to careers in government or the non-profit sector.
The scholars were chosen by sixteen independent selection panels on the basis of the finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders. Selection panels met across the United States and included distinguished public service leaders, elected officials, university presidents, federal judges, and past Truman Scholarship winners.
The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to our thirty-third President. The Foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the Foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury.