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SMU junior Rahfin Faruk awarded 2014 Truman Scholarship

Becomes SMU’s 14th Truman Scholar since the honor was established by Congress in 1975

April 16, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU junior Rahfin Faruk has been named a 2014 Truman Scholar. The prestigious and highly competitive national scholarship recognizes college students who are “change agents,” with outstanding leadership potential and a commitment to public service careers.

SMU junior Rahfin Faruk, 2014 Truman Scholar
SMU junior Rahfin Faruk

Faruk was one of 59 students, mostly college juniors, from 52 U.S. colleges and universities selected to receive the award, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. He is the 14th Truman Scholar at SMU since the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975. He was one of 655 candidates nominated by 293 colleges and universities for one of academia’s most sought-after awards.

Faruk, of Richardson, Texas, is an SMU President’s Scholar majoring in economics, political science, public policy and religious studies, with a minor in mathematics, in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. He plans to pursue an MBA and a master’s in public policy to work in the social enterprise sector.

“As someone who wants to break down sectoral boundaries, I was attracted to the societal impact I could have as a Truman Scholar,” Faruk says. “Truman Scholars are everywhere – in a wide array of sectors and functions – and they are working to serve humanity in better ways.”

“It’s fitting that the Truman Scholarship Foundation honored Rahfin Faruk as a change agent,” said SMU Provost Paul Ludden. “Rahfin not only has excelled academically, but he also has applied his knowledge and research skills to important issues facing the North Texas and global community. With his record of servant leadership on campus and in the community, Rahfin is an SMU world changer with big ideas who no doubt will make a significant contribution as a Truman Scholar.”

Two SMU juniors also were selected as finalists for the Truman Scholarship: Prithvi Rudrappa, a Dedman College Scholar majoring in biochemistry in Dedman College and finance in Cox School of Business, with a minor in Spanish; and Fantine Giap, a President's Scholar majoring in biological sciences and minoring in mathematics and psychology in Dedman College.

In his graduate studies, Faruk intends to focus on improving financial inclusion, the financial system that gives the poor and marginalized access to credit, savings and insurance services. At SMU, Faruk founded a microfinance initiative called Green Riba, which provides zero-interest loans to low-income entrepreneurs in West Dallas. He twice was awarded grants for his organization through Big iDeas at SMU, an undergraduate research program.

“Services many take for granted — a savings account, free check cashing and ATM access — cost the poor disproportionately more money,” Faruk says. “Through my work with my microfinance organization, I came to realize that financial inclusion should have a bigger seat at the political table because it is interconnected to so many other aspects of life, such as health care, education and upward mobility.” 

Faruk worked in the microfinance industry during summer 2012 as an intern at Grameen Bank in Bangladesh; in 2013, he interned with the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. For both internships, he was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility.

SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies awarded Faruk the Jack C. and Annette K. Vaughn Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship for his work at the State Department. The Tower Center also named him the Edwin L. Cox Research Fellow and awarded him a Hatton W. Sumners Foundation Scholarship.

As a Hamilton Undergraduate Research Scholar in Dedman College, Faruk conducted and presented research at the Southwest Conference on Asian Studies and the Western Political Science Association Conference.

Faruk is the former editor-in-chief of The Daily Campus and has written op-eds for The Dallas Morning News and The Huffington Post. He is a member of the University Honors Program and serves as a student representative to the SMU Board of Trustees on the Academic Policy, Planning and Management Committee. He was named a Carole and Jim Young Fellow by TEDxSMU.

In May the 2014 Truman Scholars will attend a leadership development program at William Jewell College and will receive their awards at the Harry S. Truman Library in Missouri.

Learn about SMU’s Office of National Fellowships and Awards: smu.edu/nationalfellowships.

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