SMU graduate Rahfin Faruk awarded Marshall Scholarship

The prestigious scholarship is awarded annually to intellectually distinguished Americans to advance knowledge in the scholars’ chosen fields and to promote understanding of Britain.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU graduate Rahfin Faruk has received a prestigious Marshall Scholarship. The highly selective scholarship is awarded each year to up to 40 intellectually distinguished Americans to advance knowledge in the scholars’ chosen fields and to promote understanding of Britain.

Rahfin Faruk
Rahfin Faruk

Faruk earned Bachelor’s degrees from SMU in economics, political science, public policy and religious studies in 2015, graduating summa cum laude. A President’s Scholar, he was selected to serve as the voting student member of the SMU Board of Trustees. He led the University’s student newspaper, The Daily Campus, and the Tower Center Student Forum, where students examine politics and public policy. In 2014 he was one of only 59 U.S. college students awarded a Truman Scholarship, which recognizes “change agents” who are committed to public service.

As a Marshall Scholar, Faruk will pursue Master’s degrees in development finance at the University of Reading and in comparative social policy at the University of Oxford. He intends to focus on financial inclusion, ensuring that individuals, particularly the most vulnerable, and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs in an ethical and sustainable way.  

“I am incredibly humbled to receive this opportunity to study in the United Kingdom and thank the British people for this scholarship,” Faruk said. “My life’s goal is to create an economically and financially inclusive world, which I believe can beget socioeconomic progress in critical areas like education, health and housing. With the support of the Marshall Scholarship, I will explore how different technologies, models and approaches can transform painful paradoxes – like the poorer you are, the more you pay – for billions of people.”

SMU nominated Faruk for the Marshall Scholars program, which was established in 1953 by the British government to express thanks to the United States for Marshall Plan aid received after World War II. Faruk is SMU’s second Marshall Scholar; the first at SMU was Rebekah Hurt in 2005.

“We’re so pleased that Rahfin’s exceptional achievements have been recognized by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said. “Rahfin is an SMU world changer. While excelling in multiple rigorous majors, he left a substantial mark of leadership on campus and in our community. We expect that, as a Marshall Scholar, he will serve as a strong ambassador for our country and continue to make a difference.”

Faruk, who grew up in Richardson, Texas, currently works in Washington, D.C., as a consultant at FSG, a nonprofit social impact consultancy that helps organizations across sectors better engage with society. He also has worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington as a research assistant to Jim Hollifield, director of the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at SMU and professor of International Political Economy in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. 

“It was my privilege to have Rahfin as a student at SMU, but in working with him on issues of migration and human development at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars over the past year, he became much more than a former student,” Hollifield said. “He is my colleague, collaborator and co-author, and the Marshall Scholarship affords him the opportunity to continue what promises to be a brilliant scholarly career.”

As an undergraduate at SMU, Faruk was the founder and CEO of a microfinance startup that provided zero-interest loans to low-income clients in West Dallas. He twice was awarded grants for his organization through Big iDeas at SMU. Faruk has held internships with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the U.S. Department of State and McKinsey & Co. He has also conducted research in Bangladesh as part of SMU’s Engaged Learning program.

Faruk has published op-eds in The Dallas Morning News and The Huffington Post. He was named a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington, D.C. He has presented, including at the American Political Science Association, and published original research on microfinance and migration. He was inducted as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa and was named the Robert and Nancy Dedman Most Outstanding Senior by Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

 “The Marshall Scholarship is the result of those who have invested, selflessly and earnestly, in my life – from the sacrifices of my parents and grandparents to all of the administrators and faculty who took me under their wing,” Faruk said. “Their investments, combined with the incredible opportunities available to students at SMU, is why I am here today.”

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Media Contact:

Sarah Hanan