UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Student wins $30,000 Truman Scholarship

– University of California, Berkeley, ethnic studies major April Joy Damian has won a $30,000 Truman Scholarship, the first University of California, Berkeley, student to win the prestigious award since 2002.

Out of a pool of 602 applicants, Truman Scholarships recently were awarded to 75 students from 65 U.S. colleges and universities.

Damian is a first generation college student who entered UC Berkeley as an Incentive Awards Scholar and is currently in the UC Berkeley Biology Scholars Program. She created the SoMa (South of Market) Scholars Mentorship Program to promote healthy academic and social values among disadvantaged middle school students in the Bay Area. Last year, she participated in the Summer Medical Education Program at Yale University School of Medicine.

"I see health as holistic, not just as physical and science-based. I'm more aware of the socioeconomic factors that also influence one's health outcomes," said Damian, a junior who plans to get her joint medical degree and master's degree in public health, and then operate a non-profit clinic in a medically underserved community.

"My primary concern is increasing access to adequate healthcare for people of color and the poor," Damian said. "Health care has turned into this big industry, and a lot of people I know feel alienated from medicine. The personal contact has been removed from medicine."

Currently, Damian is conducting research on cardiovascular disease within the Filipino American community, with an emphasis on nutrition. Damian, who is Filipino, still returns to her old downtown San Francisco neighborhood every other weekend to volunteer at St. Anthony's Dining Room.

Each Truman Scholarship provides $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.

Recipients must have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class, and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.

"I wanted to find a way to give back to my community," Damian said.

Damian said she realized during the application process that she was going to see her plan through, no matter what happened.

"I guess that's the best thing that came out of the process - just putting down on paper not only what I want to do, but how I am going to do it," she said. "It just laid out what I was going to do, no matter what happened with the scholarship."

Damian was assisted in applying for the Truman Scholarship by UC Berkeley's Scholarship Connection, which is both a clearinghouse for information on external scholarships and administers the campus's selection process for prestigious scholarships such as the Rhodes, Marshall and Goldwater.