UAA student Albiona Selimi awarded prestigious Truman Scholarship

by Michelle Saport  |   

Albiona Selimi
UA Student Regent and UAA Truman Scholar Albiona Selimi photographed on the UAA campus. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

UAA student Albiona Selimi achieved the prestigious distinction of being named a 2024 Truman Scholar. She is one of 60 college students from 54 U.S. colleges and universities selected to receive the foremost graduate scholarship for those committed to careers in public service.

Selimi, who also serves as the student regent on the University of Alaska Board of Regents, knew she wanted to attend college in state. "In high school, a lot of students wanted to go out of state," she said. "But I just never really had that myself. I found it much more practical for me to just stay in Alaska and continue my education here, especially since being close to family was really important for me."

A first-generation college student, Selimi's academic pursuits at UAA include a major in political science and minors in women’s studies and justice. Her passion for these subjects began in high school. "I took AP government, and it was just very eye-opening to my interest in government and politics. Then I thought that adding a women’s studies minor was a great way to get a feminist perspective," she said. Her decision to minor in justice stemmed from her aspiration to attend law school, aiming to broaden her understanding and potential career paths.

Her application journey for the Truman Scholarship was not without its challenges. Initially hesitant, Selimi was spurred on by friend and former applicant Katie Scoggin. "Katie kept hounding me, and I was like, 'You know what, I’ll do it.' And here we are now," said Selimi.

Selimi also credits the encouragement she received from her professors, particularly James Muller and Kimberly Pace from the Department of Political Science, as one reason she pursued the scholarship. "Professor Muller did such a great job of bringing it up to his classes and informing us about it. I remember he personally talked to me about it and encouraged me, which might not have been on my radar otherwise." She further credits the UA regents as well as the Justice Center's Amy Doogan and women's studies professor Tara Lampert as key supporters during her application process.

"First of all, it’s such a great honor. It’s such a competitive scholarship that I really didn’t think I would get it," she said. "The entire process has been so enlightening — just writing the application and then going to the interview. To get it was honestly a cherry on top of the already amazing process."

Looking ahead, Selimi would love to pursue civil rights or criminal law, noting that her interest in the latter was piqued by a wrongful convictions class and an upcoming internship with the Alaska Innocence Project.

In addition to her personal goals, Selimi is eager to support future Truman candidates from UAA. "It’s a very stressful and harrowing experience, but I’d like to help the next student feel a little less alone and a little less stressed," she said.

The Truman Scholarship, established by Congress in 1975, aims to support and encourage future leaders in public service. Each scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. Selimi is the 13th UAA student to earn the distinguished award.

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