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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

May 5, 2008
CONTACT: Amy Lunday

Sonia Sarkar Wins Truman Scholarship

Sonia Sarkar
Sonia Sarkar

Sonia Sarkar, a Johns Hopkins University junior from Austin, Texas, is one of 65 students from 55 U.S. colleges and universities to be named a 2008 Truman Scholar. The prestigious annual award is for extraordinary juniors committed to careers in public service.

Chosen by Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation judges looking for leadership potential, intellectual ability, and the likelihood that a candidate will make a difference in the world, each scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study and is eligible for priority admission and supplemental financial aid at premier graduate institutions. Truman Scholars also receive leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and access to special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding communication skills and be in the top quarter of their classes. Sarkar is one of two winners from Johns Hopkins this year; Kurt Herzer of Melville, N.Y., was also named a 2008 Truman Scholar. Johns Hopkins has had at least one Truman Scholar each year since 2005.

Sarkar, 19, is the campus coordinator for Project HEALTH, a national non-profit organization that mobilizes college students to break the link between poverty and poor health. In that role, she has helped support more than 450 Baltimore families by connecting them to health and housing resources within the city. Sarkar's experiences with the group have led to her decision to pursue graduate studies in law and public health to gain a better understanding of the intersection between health and housing policy.

"The intricate systems of housing agencies and health policies that I have encountered through my interactions with inner-city Baltimore families often demand a strong understanding of legal implications and language," Sarkar wrote in her application for the Truman. "Although my experience as a community advocate at the grassroots level had been very fulfilling, a deeper understanding of public health and housing law is vital to my desire to enact change on a broader level."

The Truman Scholarship is one of many accolades Sarkar has earned while at Johns Hopkins. She was an honorable mention in USA Today's 17th annual All-USA College Academic Team competition in February. The United States Public Health Service gave her its Outstanding Student Award, and the Baltimore City Council passed a resolution of recognition and congratulations to honor Sarkar for her work to assist the city's impoverished families.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to America's 33rd president. Sarkar is one of 2,610 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977. This year's winners will meet on Tuesday, May 13, for a weeklong leadership development program at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and receive their awards in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., on May 18. Information is available online at www.truman.gov.

Sarkar is the daughter of Prabir and Irani Sarkar and a graduate of Westwood High School in Austin, Texas.