Three Juniors Snag Truman Scholarship

Award honors students planning careers in public service

Three Harvard juniors have been named 2004 Truman Scholars, a prestigious honor for college juniors who intend to pursue a career in government or public service.

The winners from Harvard are Zachary D. Liscow ’05, Swati Mylavarapu ’05 and Melissa L. Dell ’05.

Candidates for the scholarship underwent a rigorous five-month-long application process in which they submitted a policy proposal and detailed their career aspirations.

A total of 77 scholars were selected from a national pool of 609 applicants representing 300 colleges and universities nationwide.

This year, each Truman scholar will receive a $2,000 scholarship for their senior year in college, in addition to a $24,000 scholarship for their graduate education.


Winners were selected based on leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of “making a difference,” according to a press release on the Truman Scholarship Foundation’s website.

The foundation is a federal memorial to former U.S. President Harry S Truman.

Liscow, a resident of Dunster House, said he was “really excited and pretty surprised” after finding out about his award via an e-mail from the Office of Career Services.

“I didn’t think I had that great of a chance because the field was very competitive,” Liscow said.

Mylavarapu, who lives in Mather House, attributes her award to the “concise and consistent story” she told about her goal to work in international development and human rights.

“Everyone enters with the same idealism, but what counts is the combination of idealism and a concrete plan for making a difference,” Mylavarapu said.

Dell, a Winthrop House resident, wrote in an e-mail that what helped her application was the “clarity” in her career goals and her “extensive involvement” in public service activities.

“I almost didn’t apply because the application seemed like a lot of work and I thought my chances were really small,” Dell wrote.

Liscow, a joint concentrator in government and environmental science and public policy, is the co-chair of the Harvard Environmental Action Coalition and recently advised University President Lawrence H. Summers on sustainibility principles for the Allston campus.

Liscow hopes to study environmental policy and biodiversity conservation at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and later work on environmental policy for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s international division.