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Announcing Drexel's 2020 Truman Scholarship Nominees

February 4, 2020

Congratulations to Drexel's nominees for the 2020 Truman Scholarship – Afrah Howlader, Gwen Ljung-Baruth, Liam Giberson, and Saniya Soni!

The Truman Scholarship recognizes undergraduate juniors committed to careers in service of the public interest, by providing them with mentorship, professional development through a summer internship program, and funding for graduate school. These students were selected to represent Drexel University in the national Truman Scholarship competition. We wish them the best of luck!

Afrah Howlader (BS Public Health ’21, Honors) is a junior public health major planning to pursue epidemiology in graduate school. She decided to study at the Dornsife School of Public Health because of its emphasis on social justice and urban health. Ultimately, Afrah would like to work in a governmental capacity and use evidence-based research to improve disparate health outcomes and empower marginalized communities. She was a 2018 Dornsife Global Development Scholar to eSwatini and is currently a Drexel Community Scholar, serving at Moder Patshala, an educational nonprofit organization. Afrah is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity and the president of the Dornsife Undergraduate Student Government Organization.

Gwen Ljung-Baruth (BA Political Science ‘21) is a junior at Drexel University majoring in Political Science, with a double minor in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. Gwen got her first taste of political life working for the Community and Economic Development Office for the City of Burlington, Vermont in her senior year of high school as a Social Media and Communications Intern. After coming to Drexel, Gwen completed the College of Arts and Sciences Fellowship (Summer, 2019) and collaborated with Dr. Erin Graham, an Associate Professor in the Politics Department, on her research regarding the evolution of mainstream ideas on world government and the United Nations. She is currently continuing her research with Dr. Graham through an independent study and plans to begin work with her on an academic article early next year. Gwen is studying abroad at the Foundation for International Education in London at present, with a focus on international diplomacy and the European Union. She plans to begin law school in the fall of 2021 after finishing her Bachelor of Arts Degree at Drexel. She is passionate about law and politics, international governance, human rights, and equality.

Liam Giberson (BS Public Health ’21, Honors) is a third year public health student minoring in French. He is currently in the process of applying to the accelerated BS/MPH program within the Dornsife School of Public Health to study epidemiology with a focus on infectious diseases. As a freshman, Liam was selected to be a 2018 Summer Experience Dornsife Global Development Scholar through the Department of Global Health. Partnered with World Vision Rwanda, he performed surveillance research in schools in Rwanda’s Gicumbi District to determine the efficacy of educational initiatives designed to elicit behavior change related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) management. Currently, Liam is a Community Ambassador at Drexel’s Community Wellness HUB - a partnership that was afforded to him through the Lindy Center’s Drexel Community Scholars program. Outside of research and service, Liam enjoys traveling, and he recently studied abroad in Montpellier, France with the University of New Orleans. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career in which he can apply his future research to federal and international health policy.

Saniya Soni (BS Psychology ‘21) is a junior psychology student interested in mental health advocacy and reform. Saniya began her undergraduate research in Drexel’s STAR Scholars Program studying motivation and the identity development of high-achieving African Americans under Dr. Danette Morrison. She started conducting her own research that summer as well, studying learned helplessness as a predictor of depression among undergraduate students. She has presented at the Stanford Undergraduate Conference, the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, and the 31st Association for Psychological Sciences Annual Conference. For her coop, Saniya worked at the Drucker Brain Injury Center at Moss Rehab as a traumatic brain injury therapist. She is currently extending her research to look specifically at Asian-American undergraduates. She is a student ambassador for the Jed Foundation, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention and mental health education across the United States.

Special thanks to the members of Drexel’s 2020 Truman Campus Committee, who worked with the Center for Scholar Development during the fall and winter terms to review applications, conduct interviews, and advise our nominees on their applications:

  • Jennifer Kebea, Executive Director, Lindy Center; Instructor, MS in Nonprofit Management
  • Kevin Egan, Director, Academic Programs, Pennoni Honors College
  • Paula Marantz Cohen, Dean, Pennoni Honors College
  • Amelia Hoover Green, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Christian Hunold, Professor, Department of Politics, College of Arts and Sciences

The Truman Scholarship is a highly prestigious national program that supports the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to careers in public service, including education and non-profit sectors. Since its creation in 1975, the Foundation has supported almost 3,000 Truman Scholars who are making a difference in all corners of the nation and around the globe.

For more information, visit the Truman Foundation website or contact Leah Gates, Director of the Center for Scholar Development, at