U student receives the Truman Scholarship

Anna Weggel

Neuroscience and psychology junior Maya Babu said working hard to achieve success is part of her personality.

“It’s just sort of who I am; I like to get things done,” Babu said. “I get restless really easily if I’m not occupied and doing something meaningful.”

Babu is a recent recipient of the Truman Scholarship, which includes $26,000 and supplemental financial aid for undergraduates to attend certain graduate institutions, according to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation Web site.

Since the late 1970s, the foundation has given scholarships to 17 University students, including six awards in the last six years.

Babu is one of 77 undergraduates from 67 colleges and universities to receive the scholarship this year.

“I was completely surprised and very excited to see it,” Babu said.

The scholarship is available to juniors who have excellent academic records and intend to pursue a career in public service, said Sally Lieberman, senior academic adviser and campus coordinator for the Truman Scholarship.

Babu said she would like to spend her life advocating for individuals with mental health issues.

Battling a rare disease called Kikuchi Syndrome her sophomore year caused her to develop an interest in health issues, Babu said.

Universities across the United States are invited to nominate four students per year, and three University students were finalists, Lieberman said.

“We’re really proud of the number of University of Minnesota-Twin Cities students who have won the Truman Scholarship over the years,” Lieberman said.

Babu served on the board of directors for America’s Promise and worked to create the University Promise Alliance, both child advocacy groups. She was also the 2001 National Forensic League debate champion and has kept a nearly perfect grade point average throughout her academic career.

Donna Gillen, past Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration president, said she has had the privilege of working with Babu closely on a statewide initiative during the last five years.

She said Babu is extremely deserving of the scholarship because of her commitment and dedication.

“She is totally committed and dedicated to volunteerism and serving her community,” Gillen said.

Babu said she likes to keep herself busy with the things she is passionate about.

“You make time if you’re really interested in it and you view it as a part of who you are,” she said.