Abdul-Aziz 1 of 600 applicants for public service award
AbdulRahmane Abdul-Aziz is making headway where no Minnesota State University, Mankato student has before.
Abdul-Aziz was recently named a Truman Scholarship finalist, a prestigious award given annually by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. He is 1 out of 200 national finalists.
According to Giovanna Walters, the University Fellowship Coordinator, Abdul-Aziz is the first MNSU student to become a Truman finalist since the Office of University Fellowship was first created in 2013. Roughly 600 applications for the Truman Scholarship are submitted annually from institutions across the nation. The scholarship, however, is only granted to about 60 Truman Scholars nationwide.
The required criteria to qualify for a Truman scholarship include: demonstrated participation in activities such as student government; government internships, commissions or boards; partisan or non-partisan political activity; community service; an intent to work in public service and desire to improve society or the environment.
“It’s an honor being nominated for a Truman Scholarship itself,” said Abdul-Aziz. ”I’ve learned a lot through the extensive process. It really showed me what kind of path I want to take and what kind of public servant I want to be and the work that I want to do.”
Abdul-Aziz, a first-generation immigrant from Togo, is currently a junior pursuing a political science and sociology double major. He expects to graduate from MNSU in 2020 after earning a master’s degree in public policy. His career goals are to become elected to public office so that he can inspire and uplift youth. He hopes to create and implement community-centric policies focused on benefiting marginalized communities.
In summer 2017, Abdul-Aziz worked as a project coordinator for the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith. While there he coordinated weekly with Urban Youth Corps Internship enrichment sessions for seven high-risk youth to prepare them for personal and professional success.
“[The process has] helped me grow as a person through looking at the work that I want to do through the future. And I’m excited for the interview,” he said.
Abdul-Aziz currently serves as a student trustee on the Minnesota State Board of Trustees, is president of MNSU’s student government, Minnesota State Student Association (MSSA), and also serves on the board of directors for Students United, a non-profit organization that advocates for over 70,000 students attending Minnesota state universities.
These scholarships are some of the best graduate scholarships for students aspiring to become public service leaders, according to the Truman Foundation. Not only does the scholarship provide up to $30,000 for graduate study, but recipients also receive priority admission to several top graduate institutions. Those who receive a scholarship are also eligible to apply for grants to fund leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.
Finalists for the scholarships will be announced at the end of April, after regional interviews take place in March and early April.