UConn Junior Wins Prestigious Truman Scholarship

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) looks to use her Truman scholarship for graduate work in dual medical and public health programs. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)
Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) looks to use her Truman scholarship for graduate work in dual medical and public health programs. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

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] represents everything we at the University of Connecticut challenge our students to be. — Provost Craig Kennedy

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 the Korean language in Gwangju, South Korea through the U.S. Department of State.

Currently, she serves as 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.”

“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,” says Provost Craig Kennedy. “She represents everything we at the University of Connecticut challenge our students to be.”

For her graduate work, Chittibabu would like to pursue a dual MD/Master of Public Policy degree; and in the future, she aims to build and promote innovative health policies as a physician.

“As dean of the College, it is incredible to watch our students achieve the national recognition they deserve,” says 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.”

Adds Vincent Moscardelli, director of UConn’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, “Akshayaa is one of the most delightful and talented young scholars I have had the pleasure of knowing. 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.”

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 May 27.