Junior Rahfin Faruk receives 2014 Truman Scholarship

SMU junior Rahfin Faruk, 2014 Truman Scholar

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.

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.

Two other 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.

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.

“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.”

“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.”

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.”

Written by Sarah Hanan

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Seven SMU students to attend 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting March 21-23

Clinton Global Initiative University Network logoSeven SMU students will share their research, goals and commitment to global issues during the 7th annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) at Arizona State University in Phoenix March 21-23, 2014.

Former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, will host the CGI U gathering. The 2014 agenda was announced earlier this year.

The event will bring together more than 1,000 college students with innovators, thought leaders, and civically engaged celebrities to address challenges facing their campuses and communities in areas such as education, environment and climate change, human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

Keep up with Clinton Global Initiative University news on Facebook: facebook.com/cgiuniversity

The SMU students who will attend the meeting, and a brief description of their work:

  • Rahfin Faruk is expanding Green Riba, an e-commerce and traditional microfinance storefront, to connect West Dallas and SMU-based artists to larger, national markets.
  • Adam Goff and Thomas Schmedding – through their microfinance loan project, PropeLend Economic Empowerment Ventures – will harness public support for economic development by empowering impoverished residents of developing nations to seek loans for entrepreneurship.
  • Jonathan Hess will start Veterans Day Nonprofit, whose purpose is to hold an annual Veterans Day celebration in Dallas to mark their contribution to the Dallas community, raise funds for veterans’ initiatives, and inform the community about Veterans Day and contemporary veterans’ issues.
  • Asia Rodgers will use art therapy to help victims of human trafficking gain confidence in themselves. She will provide access to art classes and events where victims will be able to showcase their creative work.
  • Trisha St. Fleur will partner with Projects Abroad to establish an interactive health education program and to allocate resources geared to women in Ghana.
  • Ashley Wali is completing the last stage of her research on what she has named The Nari Project. She will evaluate the psychological and physiological effects of the crisis kits that she provided to battered women in Dallas, Texas and Comilla, Bangladesh. She will also use her findings to conduct seminars that spread awareness about domestic violence.

Four other SMU students were approved but are not attending in 2014:

  • Joshua Bakarich
  • Joseph DiMarco
  • Daisuke Takeda
  • William Timmerman Wooten

SMU Forum: SMU joins the Clinton Global Initiative University Network

As a member of the CGI University Network of more than 50 colleges and universities that support and mentor Commitments to Action, SMU pledged $10,000 towards student projects as well as travel to the annual meeting.

Find a complete schedule at the Clinton Global Initiative University homepage