Auburn University student Allen Li has been awarded the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship, one of 58 nationally this year.
Li, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, is an Honors College junior majoring in political science and economics with a minor in philosophy within the College of Liberal Arts.
“Allen’s selection as a Truman Scholar is a testament to his remarkable impact on our campus community and his ability to continue influencing those around him,” Interim Provost Vini Nathan said. “His commitment to identifying important LGBTQIA+ issues on our campus and initiating meaningful solutions represents, in my opinion, the very best of our students.”
Created in 1975 by an act of Congress, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship is awarded to approximately 60 college juniors each year based on four criteria: service on campus and in the community, commitment to a career in public service, communication ability and aptitude to be a “change agent” and academic talent that would assure acceptance to a first-rate graduate school.
“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Allen for receiving this prestigious award,” said Ana Franco-Watkins, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “This is an extraordinary recognition, as only a select few students are honored nationally. We are extremely proud of Allen for his commitment to excellence in public service.”
The Truman Scholarship Program was established to provide scholarships to outstanding students who are committed to a career in public service. Scholars receive an award of $30,000 toward postgraduate education. They participate in leadership development programs and have opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.
“This is a richly deserved recognition of Allen’s role as an agent of change,” said Tiffany Sippial, director of the Honors College. “He has repeatedly demonstrated the power of moving toward a problem, listening to those involved, asking hard questions, being willing to take risks and then taking bold and decisive action to bring about transformative change. I am so proud of all that Allen has already accomplished and know his journey as a leader is only beginning. This is a truly outstanding honor.”
Li was awarded the Truman Scholarship thanks to his work with LGBTQIA+ issues at Auburn. As a sophomore, Li developed the Inclusive Housing Project, which specifically addresses LGBTQIA+ student issues regarding the roommate matching process. Li developed a three-phase plan with SGA that focuses on prioritizing a safe space for students who may be dealing with harassment, misgendering, fear and anxiety.
“It means a lot that an organization like the Truman Foundation recognizes the intersectionality of my communities and the work that I did through Auburn’s Student Government Association and the Human Rights Campaign,” said Li. “I am so excited to have a platform to magnify the work I’ve done at Auburn on a bigger stage and talk about issues in the LGBTQIA+ and AAPI community with leaders all around the nation.”
Li accredits his accomplishments to much of his Auburn family.
“For the endless support, reassurance, application edits, interview prep and for caring deeply about the LGBTQIA+ community, much thanks must go to Alex Sauer, Honors College coordinator for scholarships and research,” Li said. “I also must thank Dr. Paul Harris, department chair and professor of political science with the College of Liberal Arts, for supporting me academically, giving me the opportunity to study under him about one of Truman’s most influential policy decisions, connecting me with alumni that were incredibly helpful for interview prep and for being so willing to provide the space and accommodations needed for a successful interview.”
Li also acknowledges Sam Wilcox, Azeem Ahmed, Marian Royston, Ray Griffin, Sara Rains, Kelly Krawczyk, Dr. Soren Jordan, and Dr. Ryan Williamson for their support in preparing for the interview. As well as those at the Human Rights Campaign and Auburn SGA, “two organizations that spring boarded me into the field that I want to pursue in Public Service.”
Finally, Li would like to thank Abby Stapp, Sierra Berry, Molly Grubb, and Maggie Nelson for cheering the hardest and believing in him every step of the way, and of course his parents for their love, support, and inspiration.