Hanan Alexandra (Alex) Hsain, a junior majoring in materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University, has just been selected as one of 62 recipients of the renowned Truman Scholarship, which funds graduate studies for individuals committed to public service leadership.
Hsain, 21, of Colonial Heights, Virginia, plans to use the award to earn a PhD in electrical materials engineering and address the national security threats posed by climate change by working as a scientific advisor to policymakers.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established in 1975 as a living memorial to the nation’s 33rd president and invests in the education and professional development of undergraduate Americans. In addition to up to $30,000 for graduate education, Truman Scholars are offered summer internships in Washington D.C., mentoring opportunities, and placement in public service jobs.
Hsain is NC State’s ninth Truman Scholar; its eighth recipient, Tómas Carbonell, was named in 2002.
A record of 315 colleges and universities nominated 768 students for the 2017 Truman Scholar class; 54 institutions are home to this new cohort. Recipients were chosen from 199 Finalists who interviewed in one of 16 independent regional review panels. Selection criteria include leadership potential and communication skills, intellectual strength and analytical ability, and the likelihood of the Finalist “making a difference” in public service.
NC State nominated five outstanding juniors, with the help of its Truman Scholarship campus selection committee, through the Fellowship Advising Office: Jesse Bennett, Austin Bryan, Madeline Finnegan, Hsain, and Jeremy Nortey. Of the five, three were selected as Finalists: Bennett, Hsain, and Finnegan.
Chancellor Randy Woodson surprised Hsain in-person with the news of her Truman Scholarship selection. “The first thing I thought was ‘thank you’ to all who have supported and loved me and for the privilege and honor of U.S. citizenship,” said Hsain, a first-generation American. “This experience has reaffirmed my commitment to ensure opportunities of freedom and the pursuit of happiness for future generations through scientific innovation. As an aspiring scientist and advocate for evidence-based decision making, I am honored to enact the ‘Think and Do’ mentality and represent NC State in the Truman community.”
Hsain has conducted research with Michael Dickey, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, since 2015 in the Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) Center. She is also a founding member of SciBridge, which is based at NC State and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. This project connects U.S. scientists and students with African universities through hands-on “materials for energy” experiment kits that promote sustainability and scientific collaboration; Veronica Augustyn, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, serves as chair and U.S. organizer. In addition to Hsain’s summer research at NASA Langley Research Center and Bennett Advanced Research, she has been a leader for nearly three years in the University Scholars Program (USP) with support from USP assistant director Sarah Beth May and is vice chair for the Scholars Council. Hsain recently founded the Undergraduate Research Student Advisory Council and serves it as both vice president and mentor.
“Alex’s firm commitment to and passion for educating the public about climate change, combined with her intellectual abilities and personal drive, were clear indicators of her potential as a public servant and a leader in sustainable energy development,” said Tiffany Kershner, adjunct teaching assistant professor of anthropology and director of NC State’s Fellowship Advising Office. “Our office is beyond thrilled for her, and we know she will represent NC State well as a Truman Scholar.”
The 2016-17 Truman Scholarship campus selection committee included:
• Justine Hollingshead, Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice Chancellor & Dean for Academic and Student Affairs
• Rich Holly, Associate Dean and Executive Director for the Arts
• Ken Johnson, Associate Director, University Scholars Program
• Courtney Simpson, Director for the Student Support Services & Student Support Services STEM Programs, TRIO Programs
• Carolyn Veale, Assistant Director, University Honors Program (committee chair)
The 2017 Truman Scholars will receive their awards in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, on May 28, 2017.
Click here for NC State’s press release.
Click here for video of NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson surprising Hsain with news of her Truman Scholar selection.
The Fellowship Advising Office (FAO) helps NC State’s undergraduate students, graduate students, and alums learn of and apply for nationally competitive and prestigious awards. These awards fund a wide range of opportunities, and many are connected to undergraduate and graduate degree programs or internships, overseas opportunities, and independent projects.