FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas student Sam Harris of Damascus was recently named as a finalist for the 2016 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Harris is a senior honors agricultural business pre-law and agricultural communications major in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

His selection places Harris among the top students in the country. Truman Scholars are selected based on a commitment to public service and are awarded $30,000 in scholarship funds to attend graduate or law schools. The applications process is rigorous and often requires more than 50 hours to complete. Candidates must also interview. Universities and colleges can submit up to four applications each year.

"Sam Harris is an energetic student and service-minded individual," said Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. "Just reading his extensive resumes can be exhausting. It is not surprising that the Harry S. Truman Foundation, which is looking for future ‘change agents,’ selected him as afinalist for this award. The competition is fierce at every level. The University of Arkansas is very proud of what he has accomplished and what we know he will do for his community throughout his public service career. We wish him well in this competition and in the future."

Harris is a University of Arkansas Honors College Pilot Research Scholar. In 2015, he earned the World Food Prize Foundation’s Elaine Szymoniak Top Research Award for his study on how to improve agricultural practices and minimize food insecurity in remote villages in India. He also received an American FFA Degree, for outstanding work with the organization. He also was named a Prudential Spirit of the Community Honoree and was awarded a Presidential Community Service Award. Harris has been involved with the Associated Student Government, the Student Alumni Board, the Bumpers College Honors Student Board, and Young Democrats. This past year, Harris was a Risk Management Agency intern and a Wallace-Carver Fellow for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has also volunteered on several local, statewide, and national political campaigns.

Harris’s work to alleviate food insecurity has taken him across the globe. In 2016, Harris traveled to Ho An, Vietnam, with a group of U of A students, where he spearheaded the instillation of bio-digester systems, an eco-friendly tool that can convert animal waste to fuel for heating and cooking. Encouraged by the initiative, Harris is currently planning a pilot research exchange program in 2017 to implement similar technology in rural communities in Belize. Closer to home, Harris has worked to foster increased political engagement in Washington County. In 2016, he organized the largest voter registration drive in the county’s history. His efforts led to a 20 percent increase in voter registration from the previous national election.

Upon graduation, Harris intends to study for a Juris Doctor and a Master of Laws, and he ultimately hopes to work toward alleviating food insecurity on a global scale. Following his studies, Harris would like to work in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Food Security, where he hopes "to address the disconnect between cultural sensitivity and the implementation of innovative agricultural technologies."

About U of A Truman Scholars: The U of A has produced 21 Truman Scholars, more than any other university in the Southeastern Conference. In 2002, the University of Arkansas was named a Truman Scholarship Honor Institution for student commitment to service and its record with the Truman Scholarship Program. Recent University of Arkansas Truman Scholars include Grant Addison, history and political science, 2015; Cicely Shannon, economics, 2014; Nathan Coulter, political science, 2013; and Mike Norton, agricultural business and poultry science, 2012. Last year, Victoria Maloch and Danielle Neighbour were named Truman Scholars, and the University of Arkansas joined Princeton, Alabama, Notre Dame, Vasser, and Yale as one of only six institutions to produce multiple scholars. The University of Arkansas had two Truman Scholars in the same year once before in 1999 when Megan Ceronsky and Angie Maxwell, now an associate professor in the political science department, were selected.

University of Arkansas students who are interested in applying for the Truman Scholarship should contact the office of nationally competitive awards at awards@uark.edu or 479-575-3771.