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​Attiya Latif named 2017 Truman Scholar

Rising fourth-year receives highly competitive scholarship for public service leaders

<p>Latif plans to use the scholarship to study&nbsp;both law and theological studies.</p>

Latif plans to use the scholarship to study both law and theological studies.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation named third-year College student Attiya Latif as one of the 62 Truman Scholars for 2017. There was a total of 768 students nominated for the scholarship from a record 315 colleges and universities.

"Recipients of the Truman Scholarship receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for careers in public service leadership," according to a release from the foundation.

The scholarship, which is named after the 33rd President of the United States, is awarded based on three factors — leadership ability and potential, commitment to a career in public service and intellect and prospects for continuing academic success. The Foundation puts extra emphasis on the scholars being not just leaders, but effective leaders and "change agents."

"It's one of the joys of teaching when you come across students like Attiya, in whom you see promise of a great future — students who make you believe in the future and have a positive perspective on it," said Women, Gender and Sexuality Prof. Farzaneh Milani.

Latif is currently a Political and Social Thought major, with a concentration on Islam, Politics and Gender in the Middle East, and wants to later study both law and theological studies. Latif is also the recipient of the 2017 John T. Casteen III Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Leadership Award.

Latif said in the future, she plans to study Muslim women’s rights and the legal and political restraints against them in the West, Middle East and South Asia.

"Violence against Muslim women is on the rise — both in Europe, where the EU high court recently ruled that employers can ban women who wear head coverings from expressing their faith at work, and in the Middle East and South Asia," Latif said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. "I'm hoping to address violence against Muslim women through research of root causes and advocacy work."

Mentors described Latif as a remarkable individual and extremely dedicated to others through activism.

"She is both brilliant and passionate — she's passionate about being in service to others. Where she sees injustice she's a voice, not just for herself but for people who perhaps don't have a voice," said Barbara Ruddy, the director of human resources for the Law School. "Attiya's whole raison d'être is to serve others, and she does this in so many ways."

During her time at the University, Latif has been both an Echols and a Jefferson Scholar, chair of the Eliminate the Hate Campaign, chair of the Minority Rights Coalition, a TEDx speaker and a writer for the Huffington Post. Latif will also serve as the student director of the Multicultural Student Center for the 2017-18 academic year.

Law Prof. Kim Forde-Mazrui said he sees Latif as a different type of leader.

"What excites me about her so much is not only her ability to move people so much but also her values of respect and love and cooperation," Forde-Mazrui said. "We need leaders who will bring people together. That sounds cliché, but Attiya is someone who can really do that."

The people around Latif also said they see her as someone who is devoted to those around her.

"She is incredibly unassuming and extremely humble. She is completely unaware of the impact that she has on people. She just think she's going about doing the right things and the things she should and the things she's absolutely passionate about," Ruddy said. "You just have to spend five minutes with [Latif] and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about."

Latif said she is thankful for all those around her who have helped her get to where she is.

"I am so grateful and humbled to have received the Truman, and I can't thank my peers, mentors and those who put up with me constantly reading and rereading my application to them enough," Latif said.

Forde-Mazrui said she expects Latif’s drive, leadership and service to take her far.

"I would put my money on her being president one day," Forde-Mazrui said. "If anyone will convince America that we will benefit from [a Muslim female president], it's Attiya.”