After an intensive application process, Sadie Keller ’19 has won the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Awarded to outstanding college juniors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service, the $30,000 prize will help fund Keller’s postgraduate studies.
Between organizing on behalf of Obies for Undocumented Inclusion (OUI), serving on Student Senate in 2016, playing club soccer, singing in an a cappella group, and volunteering at the Bonner Center for Service and Learning, it’s difficult to discern how Sadie Keller even had time to fill out the lengthy Truman application.
But above all, her firm dedication to public service and helping others made her a standout candidate among the 756 applicants from 313 institutions in this year’s annual competition. Though Keller clearly maintains a broad array of interests, she has honed in on immigrants’ rights activism through her work with OUI and El Centro, a multipurpose Latinx support center in Lorain County. Her efforts helped build OUI from a group of five Oberlin students into a network of nearly 45 students who teach English as a second language and citizenship classes at El Centro.
“After the 2016 presidential election, I was driven to motivate more Oberlin students toward meaningful action to ensure the safety of underserved and vulnerable residents in our backyard,” says Keller, who majors in politics with minors in Hispanic studies and law and society. “Oberlin classes provided the political, economic, racial, and environmental context necessary for engaging with issues in Lorain County and across the country. I’ve also learned so much from the El Centro staff, OUI leaders, and our tutees.”
Though she still has time before deciding how to allocate the scholarship, Keller is leaning toward a joint JD/MPA degree program. Among possible career paths, she lists being an attorney, immigration policy analyst, leading a nonprofit like El Centro or conducting research.
“So much has changed since I came to Oberlin that I have no idea what the future holds, but I know that I love to ask questions and fix problems,” she says. “As a Jewish person in Kansas and Kansan at Oberlin, I’ve learned that I value connecting with people even when we seem worlds apart, and learning about new ideas. Regardless of my profession, I’m excited to keep doing that by asking questions.”
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