Alumnus wins prestigious scholarship

April 20, 2010 — by Apeksha Sharma

Saratoga 2007 alumnus Varun Sivaram, a junior at Stanford University, was recently named the recipient of the Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study to college students who plan on playing an active role in the government.

To be eligible for a scholarship, students must be citizens of the United States, attend a college creditable to the U.S. and have a grade point average of “B” or higher within their junior year of college.

Students are mainly chosen based on their records of community service, commitment to a career in government, leadership potential, academic record and many other leadership-related criteria. Sivaram was nominated by Stanford after a rigorous interview process.

Sivaram heard about his acceptance through a phone call that he at first dismissed as a practical joke.

“My dad called me to tell me that I had won. I hung up because I thought he was playing a late April Fool’s Joke. Seriously, people like me rarely get this––I’m an engineering major, and most of my work experience has been in labs,” said Sivaram.

Sivaram, who heard about the scholarship through the Stanford Fellowships Coordinator, was named along with 60 other students as the winner of this award, fueling his progress into graduate school for engineering physics. The scholarship also provides a special internship within the federal government and graduate counseling.

“I’m planning on getting a Ph.D in Materials Science. I actually changed my mind since the application––I had originally wanted to pursue a Masters in public policy, but I’m in interested in energy policy,” said Sivaram. “I think you need a serious science background to lead effectively in a technical policymaking field.”

It was not easy for Sivaram to commit to one major and he went through some inner searching to find his goal.

“Convincing them that I really wanted to apply my technical major to public service was obviously tough, and it took a lot of soul-searching just to convince myself that I really wanted to do that. It took me a couple days to actually believe this.”

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