Although third-year political science and economics major Jacqueline Chattopadhyay may seem like your typical down-to-earth student who struggles to find parking only to arrive late to dance class, her 4.0 GPA and commitment to community involvement are anything but average. As a result of her outstanding undergraduate achievements, she has been awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
‘The Truman Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship for undergraduates interested in a career as a public servant, either government or non-government,’ said Audrey Devore, honors program associate director. ‘This [scholarship] is for people who want to be major leaders.’
Chattopadhyay was one of 77 students in the nation to receive the scholarship. She is one of three UCI recipients in the past five years.
According to Devore, well over 600 applicants throughout the nation applied for the scholarship this year, but only students with the strongest applications were able to compete.
Devore explained that in order to help Chattopadhyay prepare for rigorous interviewing, faculty as well as former Truman Scholarship recipients helped her. Former recipients called Chattopadhyay from all over the nation to hold mock phone interviews.
‘The scholarship is a lot of work for the student to apply for, but it’s also a lot of work for the faculty. [It] requires dedication from a lot of people,’ Devore said.
Chattopadhyay, who grew up in Irvine and attended Woodbridge High School, has held internships for Lorreta Sanchez and for former Gov. Gray Davis.
As part of the application, students had to write a policy statement.
‘I wrote about trying to increase access to college education for low income students, minority students, students who immigrated or whose families are immigrants,’ Chattopadhyay said. ‘The state should establish a rainy day fund to help so that there aren’t tuition surges.’
Chattopadhyay pinpoints her involvement as the secretary for the social science dean’s ambassadors’ council, where she takes part in on-campus activities in the social sciences, as well as Global Connect, an outreach program, as the most meaningful organizations in which she has been involved.
She said she is very active in outreach programs within the Newport Mesa School District.
‘I am community outreach director for Golden Key,’ Chattopadhyay said. ‘I’m trying to run this fledgling outreach project called Students Mentoring Students and it’s basically to help high school students plan for what they need to do to be successful college applicants, such as take their SATs, study for them, do community service and assume leadership roles.’
The Truman Scholarship
provides each recipient with a $26,000 grant