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Last modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Indiana University Bloomington student named Truman Scholar

April 10, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Rahaf Safi, an Indiana University Bloomington junior from Plainfield, Ind., has been named a 2013 Truman Scholar. She is one of only 62 undergraduates from 54 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the award.

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie surprised Safi with news of the Truman Scholarship last week. Safi is majoring in political science and philosophy and is earning a certificate in the Political and Civic Engagement, or PACE, program in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is also part of the Hutton Honors College.

"I am delighted that Rahaf Safi has received the prestigious Truman Scholarship -- our second in a row," McRobbie said. "Rahaf has demonstrated in her academic achievement and community activism the principles of service that define this scholarship. In keeping with the Truman tradition, it was especially enjoyable to surprise her with this announcement with her friends and faculty mentors in attendance. She has brought and will continue to bring great distinction to Indiana University."

Madeleine Albright, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and former U.S. secretary of state, announced the names of the 2013 scholarship recipients today. Each scholar receives $30,000 for graduate study along with priority admission and additional aid at premier graduate schools. Safi is the only Truman Scholar this year at a college or university in Indiana.

Safi has been deeply involved in civic activities and campus leadership at IU and in Bloomington. She founded and serves as president of the IU campus chapter of Oxfam America, a relief organization dedicated to finding lasting solutions to global hunger, poverty and injustice.

"It is an honor to be selected as a Truman Scholar," she said. "I am excited to meet the other Truman Scholars and learn about their experiences. IU is a great university that has provided me with the opportunity to interact with amazing faculty and staff and has given me the chance to turn my ideas into action."

Michael Grossberg, director of the PACE program and the Sally M. Reahard Professor of History and professor of law, said Safi has distinguished herself with her excellent analytical and communications skills and with her deep engagement with social and ethical issues.

"Rahaf is an outstanding student and an exceptional university and community citizen," Grossberg said. "The Truman Scholars is an ideal program for her; and she is an ideal student for it."

Safi cites her family background as an influence on her interest in international politics and policy. Her parents are immigrants from Damascus, Syria, and other family members remain in Syria, where they have been affected by the ongoing conflict there. With the start of the Arab Spring, Safi said, she became interested in constitutional design. She wants to attend law school and learn how non-democratic countries can design just constitutions that reflect their culture while protecting human rights.

Safi was recently appointed to the IU Board of Aeons, a student board that advises the IU president, for 2013-14. She served as student body representative to the Committee for Fee Review in 2012 and has served as student representative to committees for the university's Wells and Stahr senior awards.

As an AmeriCorps participant in Bloomington, she worked as a teacher's assistant and recruiter for the Head Start preschool program and tutored at the Rise, a transitional housing program for domestic violence survivors. She volunteers as a legal advocate for Middle Way House, conducting research on programs for women in prisons and jails. She has been a legal intern in a Bloomington law office and a policy intern in the summer of 2011 with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C.

The Truman Scholars program, established by Congress in 1975, recognizes college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in public service. In addition to funding for graduate education, it provides assistance with career counseling, internship placement, graduate school admissions and professional development. Scholars are invited to participate in programs such as Truman Scholar Leadership Week, The Summer Institute and The Truman-Albright Fellows Program.

Alicia Nieves, a current IU Bloomington senior, was named a Truman Scholar in 2012.