Once again, Colorado State University students have lived up to their legacy of leadership and community. Sarah Bibbey, Emily Robitschek and Elizabeth Hale were named as finalists for the Truman Scholarship, a prestigious award through which students can receive $30,000 for graduate education.
Of the 775 applications submitted to the Truman Foundation, 197 finalists were selected to be interviewed. Of those, three are CSU students. Each year, 55 to 65 scholarships are awarded.
“CSU is the only institution in the state of Colorado that was represented in the Colorado competition — all of the other finalists from the State of Colorado were from institutions outside of the state,” said Mary Swanson, the associate director for the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry.
Being a finalist for this scholarship is an honor that demonstrates what a leader that student is to their community and university.
“The award recognizes students for three things: for their academic achievements, for their commitment to public service and for their leadership potential,” Swanson said. “Students who receive the award can receive $30,000 for their graduate education, but they also have an opportunity to develop a self-designed internship in Washington D.C.”
Hale, a senior majoring in international studies, is passionate about Arabic language education in the United States and said the Truman scholarship would help her achieve her goals.
“What I want to do is get a degree in Arabic language and become a professor so I can use my position to reorient and expand Arabic programs in whatever university I’m at — and hopefully other universities across the country,” Hale said. “My hope is that by making Arabic more accessible as a language option, people will become more open minded about Arab culture as well as Arab people in general and mitigate the stigma that is going on against them in our society right now.”
Hale said the application process has been long and intense, but that she has grown as a person and a leader through the experience.
“It’s really forced me to look at what changes I want to make in the world and put that into a manageable format,” Hale said. “I fell in love with this language, and it’s really important to me to be able to share that love with more people and allow more people to learn it. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be more wide spread.”
Sarah Bibbey, a senior studying social work, agrees that being a finalist for this award has allowed her to take steps toward making her dream a reality and meeting other people who also value service.
“I really enjoyed getting to spend the interview day with other finalists from Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, because I got to meet a lot of other students who are passionate about public service and are passionate about making the world a better place,” Bibbey said.
Bibbey said her passion is social work and helping nongovernmental organizations improve their researching skills. She has spent about 13 months in Ghana and often interacted with NGOs there.
“If I get this scholarship, I want to pursue a masters in social work and learn different research skills to help nongovernmental organizations, especially (in) developing countries, improve their practices and their ability to conduct research and program evaluation,” Bibbey said.
Senior biochemistry major Emily Robitschek hopes that if she is granted the Truman Scholarship, her project will make the world a better place that is filled with equality.
“I really want to learn more about different health disparities,” Robitschek said. “In my field of biochemistry, we work a lot on innovating drugs and understanding disease, but we don’t really work a lot on how the products of science can be more equitably distributed to the people that need them, regardless of how much money they make.”
Robitschek said she appreciates this process and the impact it has had on her personally.
“The best part of this process would be the people I’ve met along the way, because they are so dedicated,” Robitschek said. “The process was also self-reflective, which was difficult but made me think of what’s truly important to me.”
Helping students refine their career goals is the most rewarding part of advising students, Swanson said.
“The Truman Scholarship application requires students to think very carefully about future career goals and where they would like to be five to seven years after their graduate program,” Swanson said. “Helping students think very deeply about what it is that they want to do is extremely rewarding.”
Collegian Reporter Pamela Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @pb_shapiro.