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Sakshi Sehgal has been named a Harry S. Truman Scholarship for 2021. (Photo from The Blue and Gold Newspaper)

College senior Sakshi Sehgal has been named one of this year’s 62 Harry S. Truman Scholarship recipients. 

The prestigious, merit-based award, created by Congress in 1975 to honor the 33rd president, offers recipients up to $30,000 for graduate or professional school to prepare for a career in public service. Sehgal, who is now the 30th Truman Scholar from Penn, was selected from a pool of 845 candidates nominated by 328 postsecondary institutions. 

Although most Truman Scholarship recipients are juniors, Sehgal, a philosophy major, was eligible for the scholarship because she sub-matriculated into the philosophy’s master program and will be completing her bachelor’s degree in three years instead of the traditional four. Sehgal is interested in medicine and public health, particularly the behavioral and mental health needs of lower-income populations. She plans to pursue an M.D. and an M.P.H. in the future. 

As a first-generation, low-income student herself, Sehgal has continuously worked to advocate for FGLI-specific needs on Penn’s campus. She is involved with Penn First, a student organization that aims to provide support to FGLI students through mentorship and social programming. She is also a New Student Orientation coordinator, co-chair of the Penn Undergraduate Health Council, co-president of Global Women Empowerment, president of Penn Walks to Wellness, and peer manager for the College of Arts and Sciences Peer Advising Program. 

In her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, Sehgal pursued opportunities related to health and public service, previously interning at the Centers for Disease Control. She also volunteered with the DeKalb County Medical Reserve Corps and South Fulton Country’s Behavioral/Mental Health Community Action Team. Sehgal is also a 2018 Gates Scholar and Jack Kent Cooke Scholar.

Sehgal said she is “absolutely ecstatic” about receiving the scholarship. 

“I'm just filled with a lot of gratitude for everyone who's contributed to my journey at Penn,” Sehgal said. “There were so many truly unique and outstanding finalists that it feels surreal that I'm able to represent Penn and my home state of Georgia in this way.”

Sehgal said that for underclassmen wishing to follow her path, she advises students to pursue their passions and to utilize Penn’s academic resources to help find opportunities relevant to their interests. 

“During my early days at Penn, I felt a lot of internal doubt about pursuing interests that didn't fit into a certain mold I had in my mind — it wasn't until really using so many of Penn's great academic and support services that I realized I could really cultivate my unique path here at Penn,” Sehgal said. “I feel that that's allowed me to tremendously grow not only as a student engaged in public service, but also as an individual.”