UConn Junior Wins Prestigious Truman Scholarship

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS), a biological sciences and sociology major, has been named a 2018 Truman Scholar by The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. The competitive national award, given to 59 students across the U.S., selects and supports the next generation of public service leaders.

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS), a biological sciences and sociology major and 2018 Truman Scholarship recipient, poses outside of the Wilbur Cross Building on April 12, 2018. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Chittibabu, a junior, is a STEM scholar who has worked on implementing better health education for rural women in South India as a Holster Scholar; assessed barriers in American healthcare as a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow; and studied Korean in Gwangju, South Korea through the U.S. Department of State.

Currently, Akshayaa serves as the vice chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and Senator for Multiculturalism and Diversity in UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government.  She is an editorial assistant at the peer-reviewed journal Social Science & Medicine and is conducting her thesis research with Professor Audrey Chapman at the UConn School of Medicine’s Department of Community Medicine and Healthcare.

In Storrs, she serves on the UConn Hindu Students Council and volunteers as a community health educator through the Collegiate Health Service Corps. Her investment in global health has led her to chairing Connecticut’s first student-run global health conference, serving on medical development trips to Panama and Ecuador, and advocating for global malaria and polio programs as a UN Foundation Global Health Fellow.

“All my life I’ve wanted to enter public service, and this feels like an incredible affirmation of that goal,” Chittibabu says of the award. “It feels like there are endless possibilities, and that I’m really working toward making America a better place.”

For her graduate work, Chittibabu would like to pursue an MD/MPP degree, and in the future, she aims to build and promote innovative health policies as a physician.

“As Dean of the College, it is enormously gratifying to watch our students achieve the national recognition they deserve,” said Davita Silfen Glasberg, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “And as a sociologist, I am especially proud of Akshayaa’s work in global health, which will undoubtedly produce innovative health policies for future generations.”

“Akshayaa is one of the most delightful and talented young scholars I have had the pleasure of knowing,” said Vincent Moscardelli, director of the UConn Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. “She’s not only a double major, but a published poet, an accomplished artist, a speaker of five languages, and an aspiring physician. I simply cannot wait to see what she does next.”

“Akshayaa’s selection as UConn’s sixth Truman Scholar is evidence of her academic potential, her demonstrated record of leadership, and her extraordinary commitment to public service at every level,” added Provost Craig Kennedy. “She represents everything we at the University of Connecticut challenge our students to be.”

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to President Harry S. Truman. Recipients of the Truman Scholarship receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for careers in public service leadership. They will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on Sunday, May 27, 2018.

By: Christine Buckley, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences