BY CARMEN SIERING
Rahaf Safi, an IU senior from Plainfield, has been named a 2013 Truman Scholar—one of 62 undergraduates, and the only one from the state of Indiana, to receive the award. Safi is a political science and philosophy major and is earning a certificate in the Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) program.
The Truman Scholars program was established by Congress in 1975 and awards scholarships to college juniors who show exceptional leadership potential and plan to pursue careers in public service. Scholars receive $30,000 and additional aid for graduate study. The program also provides assistance with graduate school admission, internship placement, and professional development.
At IU, Safi is part of the Hutton Honors College, which recruits “diverse, talented, and highly motivated students whose presence on campus serves to enhance the education of all undergraduates.”
Upon graduation, Safi plans to attend law school to study international policy, specifically legal rights and legal advocacy as they apply to constitutional design. She says her family background influenced her interests. Her parents were both born and raised in Syria, and most of her extended family still lives there. Her parents now reside in Qatar, and her father, Louay, works with the Syrian National Council, an opposition group to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“My dad’s been a great role model for me,” Safi says. “Seeing the work he does and talking to him helps me understand the importance of justice and dedication to serving others. Working to rebuild a nation is a long process, and the people should have a part in the dialogue. It takes a lot of work, and it’s time consuming, but it can be rewarding for the people living there.”
Safi founded and is president of the IU campus chapter of Oxfam America, a global organization dedicated to social justice and finding solutions to poverty and hunger. In the summer of 2011, she served as a policy intern with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C. Locally, she has volunteered as a legal advocate for Middle Way House, worked as a teacher’s assistant and recruiter for Head Start, and tutored at The Rise!, a transitional-housing program for survivors of domestic violence. She is a member of the Board of Aeons, a student board that advises the IU president.