Junior El-Halwagi Selected as Truman Scholar, First Aggie in 17 Years

Omar El-Halwagi
Omar El-Halwagi

The Harry S. Truman Foundation has announced that Texas A&M University junior Omar El-Halwagi has been selected as a recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for students who are pursuing careers in public service. El-Halwagi is the first Texas A&M student to receive this honor since 1994.

El-Halwagi is one of 60 Scholars selected from among 602 candidates nominated by 264 colleges and universities. Each selection panel interviewed Finalists from a 3 – 4 state region and generally elected one Scholar from each state. Each panel typically included a university president, a federal judge, a distinguished public servant, and a past Truman Scholarship winner. Truman Scholars are selected on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of ‘making a difference.’

Each Scholarship provides 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 US citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class, and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.

A graduate of A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, Omar El-Halwagi is a Management and Business Honors major with a minor in Communications. He is the co-founder and president of the Texas A&M Speech and Debate Team and was the 2009 Pi Kappa Delta national champion in extemporaneous speaking. He has been the Administrative Coordinator the Freshman Business Initiative and has proposed and led his own special topics course for the Mays Business School. A participant in the 2009 China-US Relations Conference, El-Halwagi has also interned with the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Public Policy Internship Program. He is also involved in undergraduate research on employment discrimination and identity performance. After graduation, he will pursue a joint degree in law and social policy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In the long term, he hopes to build a career as an employment discrimination lawyer and, later, a public official.

El-Halwagi is the first Texas A&M student selected as a Truman Scholar in over 15 years. The most recent Texas A&M student to be selected as a Truman Scholar was Kellie (Sims) Butler, in 1994. In the last ten years, nine Aggies have progressed to finalist, the most recent being International Studies major Karthik Venkatraj ’10.

Established by Congress in 1975, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation is the official federal memorial to the nation’s 33rd president. The foundation awards $30,000 scholarships to undergraduates who wish to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or public service. Truman Scholars are recognized as “change agents” and have the “passion, intellect, and leadership potential that in time should enable them to improve the ways that public entities…serve the public good.” Notable Truman Scholars include Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, broadcaster and political advisor George Stephanopoulos, US Ambassador to the UN Susan E. Rice, and Ford Foundation President Luis Ubiñas.

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 US Treasury. There have been 2790 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.

The 2011 Truman Scholars will assemble May 17 for a leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, on May 22, 2011. For a listing of the 2011 Scholars and more information on the Foundation, see www.truman.gov.

For more information, please contact Kyle Mox, National Fellowships Coordinator, Honors & Undergraduate Research, at 845-1957 or kemox@tamu.edu.


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