Emily Robitschek, Elizabeth Hale and Sarah Bibbey will interview in Denver March 18 for the $30,000 scholarship for grad school and an internship in Washington, D.C. Cisco Mora, CSU Photography.
For the first time since the Harry S. Truman Scholarship was established in 1977, three Colorado State University students in one year have been selected as finalists for the nationally competitive award for undergraduates committed to careers dedicated to public service.
Only 50 to 60 outstanding undergraduates – approximately one from each state – will receive a $30,000 scholarship to a graduate school of their choice, a weeklong leadership training session with other winners from across the country, and the opportunity to complete an internship in Washington, DC.
Sarah Bibbey, Emily Robitschek and Elizabeth Hale are among 195 finalists chosen from 775 nominees from 305 institutions nationwide for their exceptional leadership potential. Last year, two CSU students were chosen to compete for the Truman Scholarship.
“CSU nominated four students this year, so to have three be named finalists is a huge accomplishment,” said Mary Swanson, associate director of the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry (OURA) in The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT), who coordinated the Truman nominating process. “They are all super-impressive people.”
The three are also students in the CSU Honors Program, with majors in three different colleges on campus.
Bibbey, a graduate of Poudre High School in Fort Collins, studies social work in the College of Health and Human Sciences, with minors in Spanish and Leadership Studies. She took a year after high school to live in Kumasi, Ghana, where she founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving women’s rights and community development.
Today, 14 single mothers are learning to become self-sufficient through Enliven Mama Africa, and the experience has inspired Bibbey to work for change in both Ghana and the United States. She hopes to use her master’s and eventual Ph.D. in social work to strengthen non-governmental organizations’ practice worldwide.
“Many people working in NGOs don’t have education in social work or the knowledge of the best way to help the local population,” Bibbey said. “I want to find ways to help NGOs manage change so they can implement their programs effectively and improve their capacity.”
Robitschek, a graduate of Arvada West High School in Denver, studies biochemistry and anthropology as dual major in the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Liberal Arts. She is passionate about serving society through biomedical research and has conducted cancer research at several universities in the United States and in Argentina.
As a result of her experiences volunteering in Haiti, Nicaragua and Argentina, Robitschek plans a career in public health efforts. She hopes that her discoveries and the discoveries of scientists everywhere can be applied in a way that reflects the World Health Organization’s view of health as a human right.
She plans to pursue a master’s in public health and a Ph.D., to help her investigate chronic illness as a scientist. She will also use this training as a foundation for work with the public, politicians and scientists alike to eliminate health disparities as a professor and public health advocate.
“I want to not only work in the lab, but also to be able to communicate the importance of the science on human health to the people who can make a difference in the world,” Robitschek said.
Hale is an international studies major with a concentration in Middle Eastern and North African Studies in the College of Liberal Arts, and also studies Spanish. She graduated from Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico.
Hale is president of the Arabic Club and a Student Ambassador for the college. She aims to get a graduate degree in Arabic linguistics and become a professor of Arabic because of her passion for the language and her belief that more Americans should learn about Arabs, their culture and their language.
“Arabic is perceived as a difficult language to learn, but it isn’t,” Hale said. “We just need to find a better way to teach it. That’s important, because I believe that learning a language is the best way to learn about a culture, and learn about people, so we can understand each other.”
The three are scheduled to interview with the Truman Foundation’s Regional Review Panel, which will select the award recipients, in Denver on March 18. The 2016 class of Truman Scholars will be announced on April 22.