Akbar Hossain ’13 received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, becoming the first student from F&M to win this prestigious award.
Hossain, a government major, is one of only 54 college juniors in the United States to receive the scholarship this year. There were 587 applicants throughout the country and eight finalists in Pennsylvania.
According to the Truman Scholarship Foundation’s website, the organization “seeks to find and recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education, or elsewhere in the public service; and to provide them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service.”
To apply for the scholarship, Hossain needed to record his career goals and write a policy proposal addressed to a government official that outlines an important or controversial issue and provides a potential solution to the problem.
“In my policy proposal, I advocated legal representation and alternatives to detention for asylum-seekers, which was based on my work for Human Rights/Human Wrongs,” Hossain said. In Human Rights/ Human Wrongs, a community-based learning seminar, students compile legal research to help asylum-seekers get permission to stay in the United States.
In writing his proposal, Hossain sought advice from a variety of different faculty members on campus.
“I had numerous professors help me with the proposal,” Hossain said. “The best part about a liberal arts college like ours is we have professors who are interested and engaged in what [we] want to do and they help in every way they can.”
Hossain especially credits his academic advisor, Stephanie McNulty, assistant professor of government; Susan Dicklitch, professor of government, associate dean of the College, and director of the Ware Institute; and Monica Cable, director of post-graduate fellowships and adjunct assistant professor of anthropology, for their assistance and support throughout the application process, as well as Dan Porterfield, president of the College, and Michael Penn, professor of psychology.
He is also very grateful to Christian Hartranft ’12 and Lisa Yosevitz ’12 for their continued willingness to help edit his application.
Hossain’s proposal was directed to the highest-ranking official in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which is part of the United States Department of Justice. Therefore, he wrote his proposal to Eric H. Holder, Jr., the Attorney General of the United States.
Through the scholarship program, Hossain will receive $30,000 for graduate education. In return, recipients must commit to a career in public service for at least three years after completing graduate school.
Hossain plans to attend law school and work as an attorney to help immigrants. He will also attend the Truman Scholar Leadership Week, which runs from May 22-27 and will be held in at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.
“This week will teach us how best to use our scholarship and help us network with some of the top graduate schools in the country,” he said.
At F&M, Hossain has multiple leadership roles. He serves as president of Brooks College House, is an executive board member of the John Marshall Pre-Law Honor Society, is a tax preparer for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), and a founding member of the Muslim Student Association.
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