Inspired by Social Change

April 27, 2015
Amanda Nagy
Machmud Makhmudov, a third-year politics major, is one of 58 in the nation to receive the Truman Scholarship for graduate studies in public service. Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Third-year student Machmud Makhmudov came to Oberlin with the intention of pursuing a creative writing major. Journalism, he figured, would be his medium to inspire social change. That same interest led him to run for Student Senate his first semester. Since then, he has been striving to enhance the student experience on campus, and he has sought summer and winter internships that have solidified his aspirations for a career in public service.

This spring, Makhmudov was one of 58 outstanding undergraduates selected for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for graduate studies in public service. The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president. The foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The 2015 Truman Scholars, mostly college juniors, were selected from among 688 candidates nominated by 297 colleges and universities. They were chosen by 16 independent selection panels on the basis of the finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders.

Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, special internship opportunities within the federal government, and priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be academically excellent, and be committed to careers in government or the non-profit sector.

Makhmudov is a politics major with an environmental studies minor. He has served as the head of Student Senate since his sophomore year, and he has served as an economics tutor and a teaching assistant in the environmental studies program. He also pitches for the varsity baseball team.

As a Cole Scholar in Oberlin’s politics department, he was a finance intern for the Michelle Nunn for U.S. Senate campaign in Atlanta in summer 2014. He has also worked in the Mayor of Atlanta's Office of Sustainability, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Office of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

Makhmudov was born in Uzbekistan and raised in suburban Atlanta. Working for the Nunn campaign “strongly reaffirmed my desire to go back home and be involved in community development work there,” he says.

With the Truman Scholarship, he plans to attend law and business school to earn joint JD/MBA degrees. He is particularly interested in programs with strengths in environmental policy and sustainable development. “Long-term, I hope to use electoral politics as a platform to advocate for environmentally sustainable development policies in my home state of Georgia and beyond.”

Makhmudov says he appreciates the diversity of experiences Oberlin has allowed him to have. “I've done everything from pitching for the varsity baseball team to serving in student government to teaching local kindergarten students environmental science. Combining that with an academically top-tier politics department makes for an unparalleled opportunity to work with different groups of people toward common goals. I can't think of a better place to learn about politics from both an academic and practical standpoint.”

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