Wednesday, December 12, 2018

UTSA Honors College student named a Truman Scholarship finalist

UTSA Honors College student named a Truman Scholarship finalist

Sanah Jivani overcame personal challenges by helping others.

(March 12, 2018) -- Not many college freshmen can say they have founded their own non-profit organization. But Sanah Jivani can. It’s just one reason why Ann Eisenberg, director of the UTSA Office of Scholar Development, knew she wanted to nominate Jivani for the Truman Scholarship.

The competitive scholarship, awarded annually since 1977, supports aspiring public service leaders in the United States.

“When I first walked into Dr. Eisenberg’s office as a freshman, she told me about the criteria,” Jivani recalls. “I remember reading the bios of the other Truman Scholars and thinking to myself, ‘This is not going to happen to me.’”  

As a freshman, Jivani wasn’t eligible yet. Three years later, though, everything has changed. Jivani, a junior majoring in sociology and communications, received an e-mail, naming her a finalist for the Truman Scholarship.

Jivani’s path to serving others began through personal challenges. In the seventh grade, she lost all of her hair due to a medical condition called alopecia, which she developed as a toddler. As a result, she says she struggled with wigs, self-hatred and self-harm.

Jivani eventually realized the best way to overcome her own challenges was by helping others. That’s when she founded The Love Your Natural Self Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving self-esteem and empowering others to be the best version of themselves. So far, the foundation has raised more than $30,000 to provide free curriculum to schools to educate students on how to practice self-love and self-acceptance.

“Every time I’m faced with a challenge,” Jivani said, “I ask myself, ‘How can this challenge inspire me to help others?’”

Jivani hopes to be the second UTSA student to ever win the scholarship. But to become a finalist is an accomplishment in itself.

Of the more than 750 nominations, The Truman Foundation has thus far selected 194 finalists. The foundation is narrowing the pool now, following interviews with Jivani and the other 193 competitors.

Each Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. 

The first-generation student calls this opportunity a dream come true that would not be possible without support from UTSA.

“Dr. Eisenberg believed that I could do it. She believed in me so much, that somewhere along the way, I started to believe in myself,” Jivani said. “I cannot imagine what my undergraduate career would be without her or the UTSA Honors College.”

Jivani interviewed with The Truman Foundation in Austin last week. The 2018 Class of Truman Scholars will be announced on April 20.

- Rebeca Gomez

Learn more about UTSA's first-generation family.

Learn more about the Truman Scholarship.

Learn more about the UTSA Office of Scholar Development or visit the office in the McKinney Humanities Building (MH 4.02.26).

Learn more about the UTSA Honors College.

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