Serene Singh, a University of Colorado junior majoring in political science and journalism and minoring in leadership studies, has won a prestigious Truman Scholarship, an honor that brings with it up to $30,000 for graduate study, priority admission at graduate institutions and intensive leadership training for careers in public service.
Singh, who is from Colorado Springs, is CU Boulder’s 11th recipient of the scholarship and first since 2014. Singh is identified as the first NAM or pageant competitor, in general, to have won this prestigious scholarship.
The 59 new Truman Scholars were selected from among 756 candidates nominated by 311 colleges and universities. Recipients were chosen on the basis of their academic and leadership accomplishments and their likelihood of becoming public service leaders.
"Serene brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm to our campus and beyond. She engages in remarkable community service, has extensive leadership experience and maintains sharp academic focus all at once," said Deborah Viles, director of CU Boulder’s Office of Top Scholarships.
"She's already shown herself to be a change-maker, and the Truman Scholarship will help broaden her influence. I'm proud to have her represent CU as a Truman Scholar, and I'm looking forward to seeing where her path takes her."
Singh is a member of numerous groups and organizations on campus, including the Boettcher Scholars, Presidents Leadership Class, Colorado Bhangra, Political Science Honor Society and University of Colorado Student Government, where she serves as Chief Justice of the CU Supreme Court, or the Judicial Branch.
Singh started National American Miss in 2013 and has continued ever since. She says the program has "changed her life in the best way possible." She is excited and honored to be the first NAM girl to win the Truman Scholarship.
Singh, as the NAM former Miss Boulder as well as Miss Colorado Teen titleholder, started a nonprofit called The Serenity Project to offer an experience aimed at growing confidence and self-esteem for at-risk and marginalized communities of women. She hopes the project will empower participants to find their voices and focus their energy on causes they believe in.
She also works with women in The Serenity Project on speaking skills and coaches middle school and high school students for Speech and Debate in economically depressed regions, as well as students from low-income backgrounds across the country.
Outside of school work, Singh is active in the Sikh-American community. She started the first Sikh Student Association in Colorado and is working on an honors thesis in addition to policy that will help protect Sikhs in the United States from hate crimes. Annually, Singh organizes a camp for young students to learn Punjabi Indian dance and challenge their stereotypes surrounding South Asians and Sikhs in America.
Singh also has interned with the U.S. Senate, the Sikh American Legal Defense Education Fund and Opportunity Nation to further explore her interests in areas such as First Amendment rights, justice and tolerance.
Singh said of the award:
"I am incredibly honored and humbled to have received the Truman Scholarship, which is nationally known for its competitive nature and its strong desire to invest in our nation's most promising change-makers and leaders. I feel truly fortunate to have been selected amongst thousands of students.
This scholarship and the people I have met from this journey have changed my life in the best ways possible—I thank each and every one of them for their love and support in this rigorous process. National American Miss has helped me become a stronger leader, more engaged presenter, and a better person. Thank you NAM and all my NAMily for helping me see the changes I want to make in the world and giving me the tools to go out and see out those changes. I cannot wait for more opportunities to learn, grow and give back to my incredible community, state and country.”
Recently, Singh was also awarded various prestigious awards on campus including the Equity and Excellence Undergraduate of the Year, Inclusive Advocate of the Year, and the James E. Schaffer Leadership Award.
Singh aspires to one day be appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 as the federal memorial to President Harry S. Truman. The foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. The activities of the foundation are supported by a special trust fund in the U.S. Treasury.